Although they describe themselves as being a noise-rock band, New Zealanders God Bows To Math are a lot harder to pin down than they would have you believe. Named after a Minutemen track (of course), they do share certain elements with the legendary San Pedro band but there are a host of other influences at play here. You could, in fact, nail a different influence to almost every track on the album, although New Zealand’s proud hardcore heritage is ever present and totally correct throughout.
‘Slow Decline‘, the opening song on God Bows To Math and the album’s single, is not necessarily indicative of how the band rolls. Essentially a flat-out punk blast, it’s clear this is territory in which the band is very comfortable, but there is so much else going on across the span of the album that you get the impression they could take any direction they wanted with the same degree of success. There are hints of CODY-era Mogwai in the slow build and tremolo of ‘Sixty Degrees Of Separation’, Slint in ‘Small Victories’, and ‘New Designs For Hip Kids’ is shot through with the furious spirit of Mclusky. They wear their heroes’ names on their sleeves at times: there are songs named for Don Caballero and Blind Lemon Jefferson, although neither sounds remotely how you’d expect it to.
The real delight here is how well the album scans. Despite the myriad musical styles and changes of pace, God Bows To Math hangs together beautifully. The stand-out track is undoubtedly ‘Paper Trails’, which seems to cram the band’s whole shebang into five thrilling minutes. Starting with a guitar squall almost identical to the one that opens Mogwai’s ‘Glasgow Megasnake‘ and bouncing along in a surprisingly sing-along fashion before it crashes into a searing cacophony of full band power, throat-shredding screams and all, it’s the perfect distillation of the band’s sound – noisy, schizophrenic, accessible and, ultimately, pretty fucking rad.