God Forbid released their third full-length album Gone Forever in February of 2004. This was their second album (of four) for Century Media. God Forbid used a mix of Thrash, traditional Heavy Metal and Metalcore styles to bring their voice to the masses. Although the band never reached the heights of some of their contemporaries such as Chimaira, Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage and Lamb of God, but they plowed through the world of heavy metal all the same and left their own distinct mark in their wake.
My first introduction to God Forbid was at the 2003 Mushroomhead Halloween concert in Lakewood, Ohio. It was a long night that was full of bands (as usual at a MRH concert). I believe God Forbid would have been either the direct support or one of the last three bands to play before Mushroomhead. By that point people are already getting rowdy and impatient and they let the bands know it. I distinctly remember a guy in full Nazi uniform getting into the pit and giving the Nazi salute toward the stage. Now, it may be Halloween and all but there’s no excuse for that bullshit. I vaguely remember the band calling this guy out and that’s about it. Maybe something happened, maybe not. I cannot recall. This might be a good time to point out that the band is made up of mostly black members (the sole white guy at the time being the bass player). Byron, the lead singer, is a large, commanding man that I would never think of messing with. His presence definitely spoke volumes and very clearly said “Stay the hell away from me” as he prowled the stage. At the end of their set I wasn’t really impressed with them, only remarking to my buddy that the last few songs were pretty good but overall “God forbid they play any longer.” Oh man, did I feel foolish the next time I saw them.
The summer of 2004 rolls around and Ozzfest is fast approaching. It’s a Metalcore-lovers wet dream as Darkest Hour, Throwdown, God Forbid, Unearth, Bleeding Through, Atreyu and Lamb of God were all on the second stage. I kept an open mind and hoped to see God Forbid pull out more of those “good songs” that I remembered but honestly I wasn’t there to see them. I wanted to see Slipknot, Lamb of God, Hatebreed, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. Well, when God Forbid came on I became an instant fan. Everything I liked from their set at Halloween was pulled out and then some. They had a different sound, a different look and a different groove from everyone else that was there. It was evident even in the early morning time slot that they had. I loved it and just soaked it up.
Afterward, I immediately bought the Gone Forever CD and waited for the band to show up at the signing table. My buddy noted that it “looks like their trying to hide a bear under a hand towel” when Byron had a small white towel over his head while trying to relax and come down after their set. It was truly a funny sight. After a little rest, they took their places at the signing table and I was able to chat a bit with them about their songs and set, snag a photo and then they were off again. But from that day on I was a monster fan of theirs. I still listen to their whole catalog frequently and I ended up loving everything they put out. They evolved over the years and created some truly wonderful sonic landscapes.
Gone Forever was my jam for a solid two years upon its purchase. I loved the way they mixed in classic heavy metal elements into the metalcore approach. Over time the album was replaced by each subsequent release but now that their discography is complete I was able to find a renewed appreciation for the songs. While living in Chicago, one of my trips to Reggie’s yielded this gem. Released on Corrosive Recordings, the album came tucked into a clear picture disc jacket with just the die cut artwork that was taken from the front of their CD release. The front has the bird along with the band logo and album title while the back features the liner notes and track listing. The only changes to the labels is the letter A and B to indicate which side you are listening to. This die cut is totally bitchin’ and it’s probably what inspired me to make a die cut for the 7″ release of “Holy Diver” from Dio and Killswitch Engage.
The booklet that I received when I bought Gone Forever at Ozzfest 2004 contains all the artwork that is missing from the vinyl release. Travis Smith created the artwork for the 3-page spread cover and it is wonderful. A bleak, bombed-out world where the lonely crow manages to find something beautiful in all of the chaos. The booklet houses the artwork, lyrics, full liner notes and the obligatory band photo. Take a look at those goons. How could you not love ’em? I just keep this booklet with the vinyl now as I don’t have as much use for CDs anymore.
God Forbid is a band you likely aren’t familiar with but you definitely should be. Their lyrics had a different voice and social consciousness to them that many people could get into if only they were a more popular band. For fans, it’s a shame that they broke up but at least the music lives on and we can watch the DVD they released any time we want. Check out the song below and get converted.
3 Songs to Give You Better Days
Judge The Blood