Godsticks burst onto the progressive rock scene way back in 2009 with their eclectic eponymous EP. The sheer originality of the music was greeted with enthusiasm by critics and music fans alike, with the band being considered “a refreshing approach to the contemporary music scene”.
In July 2010, the band released their debut full-length album Spiral Vendetta – the culmination of 16 months of writing and a lengthy production process. The extensive production proved worth it as the album received an unanimously positive response, being described as ‘mesmerising’. As Jez Rowden of DPRP said: "Spiral Vendetta has it all in spades with chops, emotion, musicality and imagination, the songs pack a breath-taking amount into concise pieces and the album in no way outstays its welcome."
A worldwide distribution deal was secured on the strength of Spiral Vendetta and the band completed a number of tours and festivals, supporting such acts as ‘The Pineapple Thief’. In March 2012, Godsticks were also the supporting act on a 5-date UK tour with ‘The Aristocrats’; featuring world-renowned guitarist Guthrie Govan. The tour was a huge success and introduced the band to a much wider audience.
At the end of that tour the band went into the studio to record The Envisage Conundrum. The recent and extensive live work had influenced the newer material and it became much heavier and more guitar driven. None of the band's vaunted originality was lost but the album represented a more focused and settled band, still offering an eclectic array of songs, but in a much more accessible package.
The Envisage Conundrum was released in 2013 and packed a hard punch in places, whilst maintaining a steady move forward in musicianship and writing. Kerrang Magazine said: "From the stuttering hard rock of Caught In A Bind to epic three-parter Borderstomp's electric jazz, we get flashes of innovation and virtuoso class". In 2013 Godsticks supported ‘The Mike Keneally Band’ on a 13-date tour of Europe and co-headlined a UK tour with ‘Knifeworld’. A three-week European tour in 2014 supporting ‘The Aristocrats’ followed, and that tour indirectly forged a path towards an even heavier sound.
In April 2014, Godsticks continued to explore the heavier side of their musical style and set to work writing their third full-length studio album Emergence (released September 2015). A great deal of research was spent in achieving the sound they had in mind for this album. Drums were tracked at Monnow Valley Studio in November 2014, with the incredible and acclaimed live room providing the perfect foundation for the heavy guitar tracks that were to follow on this album, and the next two to follow.
Emergence (as well as all subsequent albums on the Kscope label) was produced by James Loughrey (known for his work with acts such as Skindred, Manic Street Preachers and Def Leppard). It received great reviews and signified a milestone in the progression of the band from complex eclectic prog-rock to a more focused, heavier progressive metal style filled with addictive grooves and memorable choruses. Total Guitar Magazine said, “Emergence is a rare thing – an album of technically astounding prog-metal replete with hooks and melodies". Typically for Godsticks, who are difficult to pin down to a specific genre, Emergence has been likened to a variety of different bands at the heavier end of the progressive spectrum, including Mastodon, Rush, and Alice in Chains.
The band line-up that features on Emergence had existed since 2010. Drummer, Steve Roberts, was hired by founding member Darran Charles to play on the debut EP and subsequently joined the band. Bassist Dan Nelson was brought on board a short time later (original bass player Jason Marsh left in late 2009), having been discovered by Darran via a YouTube video Dan had posted of himself playing a Godsticks tune. In September 2015 Steve Roberts departed the band and an additional guitarist, Gavin Bushell, joined along with drummer Tom Price.
Godsticks subsequently went on to be signed by the Kscope label and released their fourth studio album Faced With Rage in October 2017 (described by Prog Magazine as “A winning blend of channelled aggression and emotional depth, combining lyrical intelligence and instrumental fireworks”) in addition to supporting The Pineapple Thief (featuring Gavin Harrison) on both legs of their 2017 ‘Your Wilderness’ tour, and playing headline shows and festivals across the U.K. in 2018. Lyrically, Faced With Rage explored the theme of people dealing with emotional conflict in different scenarios, and who have a powerful desire to change their behaviour or situation. The four-piece line up with drummer Tom Price and guitarist Gavin Bushell brought a more aggressive playing style to back up Darran Charles' unique vocal sound and Dan Nelson’s driving bass, resulting in one of the band’s most successful album releases to date.
The band’s fifth full-length studio album Inescapable was then released via Kscope in February 2020. Once again a hit with the fans and critics alike, the album was described as “Godsticks’ best album yet” by Classic Rock Magazine, and Powerplay Magazine called it “A mighty powerful piece of work that could be as perfect as Godsticks are going to get. Savour the moment.”
Although not strictly a concept album, the band wanted a definite theme running through ‘Inescapable’, one of a more personal nature. Shining an inquisitive light on Charles’ struggle with inner demons seemed one way of giving the songs a new level of intimacy. Musically, the band were still their heavy selves, with chugging guitar riffs, pounding bass and drums and but there are simple and catchy melodies aplenty on Inescapable that the band felt were perhaps not in abundance on previous albums. After the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns had run their course, Inescapable was promoted with headline shows across the UK in 2021 along with UK/European festivals slots in 2022 at Tech Fest (UK), Comendatio (Portugal), 2 Days Prog +1 (Italy) and Prog Power Europe (Netherlands).
Having released Inescapable a mere month before the world plummeted into lockdown, the band had no means to perform the new songs to an audience. Living in this world of stasis, it wasn’t until Godsticks were able to perform the tracks live that they began to think about their next album; their love for writing and productivity had been reignited simply by being able to perform again. Despite the newfound resolve, the band remain humble yet incredibly driven. Experimenting with electronic sounds and a more collaborative approach to writing led to their sixth studio album, This Is What A Winner Looks Like (release May 26th2023) recorded at the legendary Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire, and once again produced by James Loughrey.
The new album has seemingly surpassed the success of anything the band has done prior, with Prog Magazine saying “It might just be their best album yet!” and MyRock Magazine calling it “A must have album!”. Determined to perform as many live shows as possible in support of This Is What A Winner Looks Like, especially because it was live performance itself that provided the initial creative spark that spawned so much of the music, Godsticks have embarked on their biggest run of headline shows in their history and finally gained recognition as the explosive, high energy live act they’d always threatened to become. And all of this has been achieved despite a change in bass player just after the album’s release; Dan Nelson decided to leave the band seeking pastures new, to be replaced on all live dates by newcomer Francis George, who had previously filled in for Dan at the band’s Prog Power Europe performance.