THE EDITED PRESS RELEAESE: “If anger is an energy, then Old Gods — Shihad’s 10th studio album since forming in Wellington in 1988 — could singlehandedly power New Zealand’s capital for a year.
Old Gods is a step into fury for frontman Jon Toogood, whose lyrics encapsulate our collective anger at recent world events. As a new parent and convert to Islam, recently married to a Sudanese woman, Toogood begun to see perspectives other than those he’d been raised with. Add in the soul searching that came with the COVID pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement, and the band’s collective disgust at the rise of Conservative politicians such as Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, and he took on a new understanding of his place in the world as a privileged white male.
“My whole consciousness changed. I haven’t been able to see the world like I used to. And all of this was feeding into, oh right, we’ve written the soundtrack, and this is what I’m going to talk about. I’m going to talk about the fact that I don’t want a future where white supremacy reigns supreme, especially with my bi-racial children. I don’t want to see leaders like Trump hold sway over a big portion of the population on the planet. Cos it’s not gonna end well.”
The result is Old Gods, an album that states its intent from the moment the crushing, grinding riff of opener Tear Down Those Names explodes to life, and just one song later Toogood urges for the killing of the ‘old gods’ in the title track. Elsewhere, Toogood takes aim at conservative talk radio, the legitimisation of racism, and the radicalisation of a generation fueled by misinformation. “I know it’s just rock ’n’ roll at the end of the day, but it’s my art form, and I’ve got a really fucking powerful band to play with, making powerful music, so I’m going to write about that shit,” Toogood says.
Such vitriol would amount to nothing were it not backed by the sonic apocalypse created by Toogood, drummer Tom Larkin, guitarist Phil Knight and bassist Karl Kippenberger. There may be an unmistakable heaviness to Old Gods, but it’s offset by a dexterity and musical telepathy that comes from decades of experience playing together.”