Right, let’s get the obvious out of the way first: with What Matters, Godstopper have released one of the finest, most visceral debuts of 2012. The Toronto, Canada-based quartet combines the bludgeon and pummel of Unsane and the Melvins with a melodic post-punk core. Add into that brew the sawtoothed rasp of ‘80s hardcore, along with an imposing strut and the stomp of the Swans, and the result is an intimidating yet welcoming album, stacked with stormy, bad-tempered songs streaked with sympathetic flourishes.
“Don’t Walk Home” opens the album with pounding percussion, the doom and sludge-dripping off its riffs. “Bent” mixes jangling ‘90s avant-rock with snarling, brutish punk and “Temples” returns to the pummel, combining its forcefulness with a sweetened pop vocal and jagged, cutting riffs. Cavernous low-end trawls are contrasted throughout by Mike Simpson’s wide-ranging vocal stylings, as he flits between the mellifluous and sneeringly savage, telling tales of frustration and regret. What Matters is replete with candied filth and razorblade-filled treats. It oscillates between grinding, acid-oozing tracks such as “Sick of Everything (Hollow Eyed Friends)” and “Lyman”, and the slow-baked poison of “Clean House”. Ultimately, it’s a track like “Blame Them” that highlights exactly why What Matters is such a potent album. Alternating between bruising riffs, pulverizing drumming and blackened drone, the song reveals all the band’s strengths—both its beauteousness, and its abundant beastliness.