Bad Brains - God of Love (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Bad Brains

God of Love (1995)


There are a couple things that are particularly interesting about the Bad Brains' sixth full-length, God of Love, released in 1995. For one, it served as vocalist HR's return to the band after being absent on 1993's Rise, and was the first and only Bad Brains album put out by Madonna's Maverick Records imprint. It's also the only Bad Brains album where the reggae songs are better than the hardcore, punk and hard rock tracks. Whether that's a strength or a weakness is up for debate.

The album shoots out of the gates in promising form on "Cool Mountaineers," with a giddy-up pace as fast as anything on I Against I. However, it proves to be not at all indicative of the album that follows, with nothing as high-energy thereafter. There are still some rockin' numbers on God of Love, though. The groove-infused "Justice Keepers" kicks into gear with HR's command, "Activate!" which surprisingly hasn't turned into a mosh call for the hardcore bands of today but should be. Despite a slower tempo and simple chorus, the title track is catchy and engaging, with a verse that sounds almost like a breakdown alongside a bevy of metal guitars, much like another standout, "Tongue Tee Tie."

Despite its 1995 release, the reggae tracks on God of Love have an identifiable '80s vibe and instrumentation akin to records like Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers' One Bright Day or Barrington Levy's Love the Life You Live. "Long Time" is an upbeat rub-a-dub number that showcases HR's toasting skills embellished with synth horns and a handful of other effects. "Over the Water" is boosted by a strong guitar lead, while "To the Heavens" boasts a funky bass that amounts to half the same melody that bridges Bob Marley and the Wailers' "Is This Love." "Big Fun" is arguably the best of the reggae tracks, with a sunny upstroke and majestic electronic trumpet blasts.

"Rights of a Child" sounds heavily influenced by the fading grunge scene as one of the few really weak tracks on God of Love. "Darling I Need You" is also pretty lackluster until halfway through, when they double-time the tempo and follow it up with a crunchy hardcore breakdown adorned with soloing metal guitar.

Compared to the rest of the band's catalog, God of Love may not be as readily notable, but it's still the real Bad Brains and there is still some really great stuff here.