Garbage – No Gods No Masters (Album Review)

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.

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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