December 20, 2021 Garbage – No Gods No Masters (Album Review)
One of the most cohesive bands hailing from the ’90s batch of Alternative Rock purveyors, Garbage to this day consists of the same quartet powerhouse–Shirley Manson (vocals), Duke Erikson (guitar, bass, keyboards), Steve Marker (guitar, keyboards), and the producer, Butch Vig (drummer).
Immediately upon its release in 1995, Garbage’s self-tiled debut garnered both commercial and critical acclaim, landing top spots on the U.S. Billboard 200 and the U.K. Albums Chart. Coming up with two albums every decade since, Garbage has just unleashed its first full-length for the 2020s.
Released on Friday, June 11, 2021, via Stunvolume/Infectious Music, No Gods No Masters is the band’s latest, seventh opus. It contains lyrically powerful tracks that touch on the greed of capitalism, the place of patriarchy in modern society, feminist activism, and Manson’s atheistic belief system. All of these rather controversial but timely issues are complemented aptly by the equally intense playing of Erikson, Marker, and Vig.
No Gods No Masters opens with the ominous stomp and angular crisp of “The Men who Ruled the World.” The more beat-driven “The Creeps” then follows in a slightly Industrial Rock fashion, exuding minute shrapnels of Gang of Four (“I Found That Essence Rare”) and Nine Inch Nails (“Head like a Hole”). With the ensuing “Uncomfortably Me,” Garbage then slow down the ambience a bit, only to step on the accelerator once more with the aptly titled “Wolves.”
The Trance-stylized and Tribal-rhythmed “Waiting for God” and “Godhead” then pulse their big bass sound into the senses of the listener. Interestingly, the synth-trumpet-adorned “Anonymous XXX” then takes the now captivated listener to the strobe-lit dancefloor.
Still in the same soundspace, Manson and the rest of Garbage then further hypnotize the listener with the slow Gothic burner “A Woman Destroyed,” which may remind the initiated of Siouxsie & the Banshees (“Kiss Them for Me”) when the Goth goddess was being sensual and sinister both in the same song.
Definitely the highlight of No Gods No Masters, “Flipping the Bird” is oozing with Pop and New Wave sensibilities, conjuring sonic images of the Post-Punk Dance masters New Order (“Krafty”) and the Indie Rockers Arcade Fire (“Rebellion [Lies],”).
The penultimate title-track is another upbeat Dance-Rock moment–a perfect mix of finesse and abrasiveness. Finally, Garbage finish off their seventh luck with the swimmingly alluring, subtle sway of the piano-laden “This City Will Kill You”–a seeming throwback postcard to where they started almost 30 years ago.
Grounded on their musical ideals and in touch always with the current sociopolitical atmosphere of the world at large, Garbage deliver another magnificent manifesto with No Gods No Masters. Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.