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Godiva: Godiva

Welcome one and all to the debut of Monday Oversight, a column designed specifically to throw back to some of my favorite albums from years gone by, or just generally spread the word about stuff from the days of Metal’s past(i.e. an excuse to momentarily ditch the new stuff and dive head first back into my CD collection once more). What spurred the concept for this new segment? A sudden quandry as to what exactly is going on in the camp of Switzerland’s Godiva while I continue to my quest to both brag and bash this group to damn near everyone who asks me for a good Heavy Metal suggestion. Why not one or the other? Well we’ll get to that, but first, let’s kick this series off right by talking about their criminally overlooked self-titled debut album.

(Note: Playlist composed of videos uploaded by other Youtube users and are not sanctioned by the band or label. These may not represent the material properly, or may have been altered after the time of posting this article.)

When I first happened on Godiva, it honestly was just a shot in the dark out of respect and familiarity to both Limp Music (LMP) and SPV Records. The latter of those two had been one of my “go to” labels since I started getting into metal, and the former was one I had only recently discovered aa few months prior, but immediately because a trusted source when I wanted some quality Power Metal. Having both slapped on the same disc was always “buy now” tag in my eyes, and I was rarely ever wrong. So amid the stack of albums from my meagre bi-weekly restitutions this one sat, only to jump to the front the second I got into my car. Windows rolled down, speakers at max volume, and shades on, “The Gate” greeted me with an insanely cheesy, albeit perfectly mood etablishing introduction that screamed classic Metal. But what I got was actually something far from it.

No, I’m not going to say that Godiva was one of the most underrated original sounding albums to ever fly under the radar. In fact the group’s mixture of Hard Rock and traditional Heavy Metal values we’ve all come to know and expect over the years were right on display in a manner that could easily have been considered hero worship. But what got to me was how fantastic the album sounded. It was a mix of analog and digital, that kind usually found at the turn of the century when studios were just starting to introduce the current recording format, leaving behind a crisp album that still had some heavy balls to back it up.

But aside infectious as hell hooks and a decent Hard Rock attitude, what really stuck out were the vocals. More specifically how well it complimented everything. Anthony de Angelis took over vocal duties from the original vocalist Adrian Mathys, a former member of Nekropolis, back in 2001. Much like some of the most notable vocalists in Metal today, (Bruce Dickinson, Ronnie James Dio, Ozzy Osbourne, Matt Barlow, Dave Brockie), Anthony’s range and just the tone of this voice was perfect suited to matching the melodies and aggression depending on the approach used, though it always fit the style at hand. When going for more of a Hard Rock experience, it was a deeper tone that sometimes was a bit rougher, or softer if going the ballad route, but for the Heavy Metal aspect you’d find higher clean singing with some falsettos thrown in.

Sadly, this wasn’t to continue. Anthony eventually parted ways with Godiva and, to this day, I still have no idea why. No official press release was ever made public, or at least not one I caught by the time I found out about this departure, and I cannot find any interviews where it is addressed. It really killed me deep down inside due to how fresh and exhilarating this line-up made the classic Heavy Metal style sound. There was passion, energy, and just so much life in the countless memorable performances that, as an instant fan, I did not want to see disappear, which it did. And painfully, might I add.

What followed from this stunning debut, and what I can only imagine a solid demo as well the year prior, was a sort of rediscovery. Call Me Under 666 introduced ex-Victory vocalist Fernando Garcia, as well as the most basic, generic, pandering Hard Rock inspired Heavy Metal album ever. The only song that stuck out to me at all was the title track, while everything else just felt patterned to make sure it followed as close to the Book of Metal as possible. It was slammed by fans and critics alike, and I don’t remember many positive reviews other than a few grateful for the trip back to the eighties. But this wasn’t at all what strength Godiva had already debuted, and instantly turned me off of them.

After what I consider the biggest let down of all time, the band issued Destruction in 2007. It felt like the group was getting back into the groove of sounding somewhat unique once more. but still not enough to really stick out. I only heard the album a few times, and truth be told, I cannot remember a single ting off it other than it was just a stronger effort compared to Call Me Under 666, which only one song’s chorus still sticks in my head to this day. I wasn’t alone in that sentiment either, as the reviews were more favorable this time around, but still nothing like their initial outing had received. It’s sad that these last two are the Godiva albums that fas of Metal are the most familiar with, and not their stunning 2003 debut.

I had given up hope on there ever being another awe-inspiring album on par with Godiva from these guys, but would once in a while check to see if there was any word of progress. I eventually gave up, never knowing that the group has essentially disbanded ever since 2009. According to Metal-Archives, Godiva‘s current status is listed as “unknown”. There hasn’t been a single release since Destruction, and the last known active members of the group are founding guitarist Sammy Lasagni, who is also involved with Kirk, and Fernando Garcia. It’s a nearly blank page that breaks my heart, especially knowing the potential this group right out the gate.

So, with what seems to be no new music coming, why even both getting invested with their debut? Because it’s a phenomenal album with one hit after another. I honestly can’t tell you how many times I’ve spun Godiva since I bought it, and it’s always my go to album for any occassion, especially for long road trips as it just never gets old. The moment “Razorblade Romantic” kicks in, I find my pulse racing into high gear, my head banging right along, and am immediately invested. Even with the slower material like “Cold Blood” strikes a chord with me in all it’s gloomy tones that kind of ruin the fun of the party, though never kill the buzz. “Heavy Metal Thunder” and the commanding “Tanks Roll” more than make up for it, as does the enthusiastic “Where Angels Die”, which is just the definition of melodic Heavy Metal. And then there’s “Bullshit Love”, which is just one I question about the intentions of the lyrics to this day, but damn is it an infectious as hell song either way I would rank up there with many of AC/DC‘s catalogue of hit sngles.

If you have never heard Godiva before, I cannot stress enough about how amazing this release is. Producer Tom Naumann did a superb job alongside the group in the studio, and House of Music Studios did a fantastic job mastering everything as well. This is the definition of eighties to early nineties Heavy Metal done right, and it’s a shame it never really got the respect it deserved, especially here in North America where the group was barely even given a fair chance. Maybe if this came out in the past five, maybe seven years, it would have had a profoundly different impact all over thanks to how open and socially oriented the net has become since 2003, but with little pr power in certain countries, it was destined to slip through the cracks unnoticed. Thankfully it isn’t impossible to find a physical copy at an affordable price on-line at this point (though finding streams of any songs to sample is pretty much impossible) so it’s not like your wallet will be raped due to my meer suggestion. I even saw a used copy in fine condition without the artwork selling on-line while getting this article together for one dollar US plus shipping, as well as a few factory sealed ones selling between twelve to fifteen. But, trust me, if you enjoy classic Heavy Metal, Godiva‘s self-titled debut is worth whatever you have to pay in order to have it in your collection.

(Pictured below is ‘Call Me Under 666’ Line-up)Godiva
Physical material for this article provided by personal funds.