Godsticks – This is What a Winner Looks Like

Godsticks – This is What a Winner Looks Like
Kscope Records
Release Date: 26/05/23
Running Time: 42:05
Review by Paul Hutchings

2020’s album “Inescapable” had me purring like a kitten. The fifth release was a stellar performance, the best of the band’s growing catalogue of clever, progressive, hard–edged rock music. Released a month before the pandemic, it forced the South Wales outfit into the creative dead end that most artists faced. Frontman Darren Charles is clear in his view, “It was impossible not to notice the creative tsunami that the pandemic engendered in the music industry – every band and their dog were writing and releasing new music. For me though, it was the least creative time in my entire life”.  

Thankfully, Godsticks love of writing was reignited by live shows. And the result is the exceptional sixth long player, “This is What a Winner Looks Like”. It is a stunning album, unsurprisingly with the crisp production that is to the credit of Rockfield Studios, producer James Loughrey and Maor Appelbaum’s mastering. It is also the last to feature bassist Dan Nelson, who leaves the band to be replaced by Francis George. Nelson’s swansong is something special, with his performance as impressive as previous releases. 

There are experimental sounds, samples, and electronica in the mix this time around. But opener ‘If I Don’t Take it All’ reminds us that behind all the technicality, Godsticks is a rock band who like to play it heavy. There is a gorgeous riff that drives the track forward, introducing Charles’ clear and strong vocals. It continues on ‘Eliminate and Repair’, with a hook that sinks deep and lingers long. 

“This is What a Winner Looks Like” is an album that demands repeated plays to absorb fully. The quality of the musicianship is of an exceptional standard, oozing quality that it is challenging to maintain. Yet Godsticks have crafted another beautiful piece of work. ‘This is My New Normal’, the phrase that surely we all learnt to hate over the past few years, is clever, intricate but with a thumping riff that powers things along. 

There are gentler songs included as well. The beginning of ‘Silent Saw’ sees Charles singing alongside an ambient sound that gently moves into a more expansive, almost cinematic landscape of sound. It contains the darker edge that Godsticks weave so effortlessly. The guitar work is sculpted, calmly eked out as the song slowly progresses. A beautifully calm song, it still has an urgency that makes the song impossible to ignore. 

Godsticks haven’t overstayed their welcome either. The tracks are short, snappy, punchy, and memorable.  ‘Don’t Say a Word To Me’, is a few seconds over the five-minute mark, only beaten by mere seconds by closing track ‘Wake Up’. 

Fans may already be familiar with ‘Mayhem’. It is an intricate, complex, and no doubt challenging track to play. Charles is in no doubt of this, “I stumbled upon this really ugly dissonant chord that sounded great with distortion and thought about ways of making it sound even nastier and more chaotic (hence the title). But I was also interested in causing Tom (drummer) physical harm so I devised a bass drum pattern so complex that it will likely cause him a repetitive strain injury in the very near future. This song promises to be immense live, and the music video hopefully translates the energy we’re going to bring to the stage when we take this song out on the road.” For those who haven’t seen the video, set in the historic Westgate Hotel in Newport, it is well worth watching. 

“This is What a Winner Looks Like” is an album that needs indulgence. It needs concentration to experience and appreciate the effort that has been poured into it. But give it respect, live with it for a while, and it’s an album that is likely to rank as Godsticks’ best record so far. 

‘Mayhem’ Official Video

01. If I Don’t Take It All
02. Eliminate and Repair
03. This Is My New Normal
04. Devotion Made to Offend
05. Silent Saw
06. Throne
07. Don’t Say a Word to Me
08. Mayhem
09. Lying
10. Wake up

Darran Charles – Vocals, Guitar
Gavin Bushell – Guitar
Dan Nelson – Bass
Tom Price – Drums


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.