The Hidden Gems Of Kurt Ballou’s GodCity Studio


WARNING: Serious levels of Kurt Ballou fanboyism lie ahead.

We recently had a brief talk on TovH’s Facebook group about our favorite producers. It seems that the consensus, or rather yet, my – this is not a democracy – favorite producers right now are Kurt Ballou and Colin Marston. Let us talk about the first.

Ballou’s studio, named GodCity, was founded in the late 90s after Kurt opted for a severance check from the company he worked as a biomedical engineer. A seemingly personal decision turned out to be pivotal to a plethora of different musical acts, and – why not – to the evolution of some of the best bands in modern metal. To be honest, I became a fan of Kurt Ballou’s work as producer and engineer long before I absorbed his work in Converge. If he’s behind a record, be it as producer/engineer/mixer, there is a very good chance it will hit home with me. Of course, we are all familiar with High On FireBaptistsTorcheEvery Time I Die and Skeletonwitch. At least I hope so. Today, we’re going to jam those GodCity recordings you probably slept on. Hell, even I slept on most of these when they came out.

 Sleeping in Gethsemane – When the Landscape is Quiet Again (2013)
Bandcamp | Facebook

I honestly can’t think of a different word to describe this album other than beautiful. The band plays heavy, instrumental music that is both thoughtful and poignant. My favorite aspect of the record is how warm and rich the bass tone is. The rhythm section is not there to support the guitarwork meanderings, like so many instrumental bands do. Instead, each member of the trio is a fundamental layer of a fluid, seamless sound. Listen to “Earth is for the Living”. Around the 2 minute mark, bass and guitar intertwine in a deep conversation, constituting one of the highlights of the LP.

 Empty Vessels – Seizures Within Reason (2014)
Bandcamp | Facebook


Only three of Seizures Within Reason‘s tracks are available for Bandcamp streaming. You will get through them fast. Then, you will listen to them again. Over and over again. This duo’s music is filled with sludgish noise and hardcore, with some other influences creeping in. “All Just Ghosts”, for example, features guitarwork very reminiscent of post-punk melodies, right before they start battering you once more. All within reason, of course. It only helps that their vocalist/guitarist, Allison Vess, is probably the nicest person I’ve talked to in a while. Empty Vessels has a TON of gigs booked, and you can find out when they’re coming to your block by stabbing here. Shouts out to Lazer/Wulf for sharing a live clip of EV in action, which in turn led me to finding out about them and coming up with the idea for this post.

 Genghis Tron – Board Up The House (2008)
Bandcamp | Facebook


In today’s volatile music world, a 2008 record is almost guaranteed to have fallen into obscurity. It is borderline criminal to let it happen to an album as good as Board Up The House. With this LP – the first under Relapse Records – Genghis Tron expand their unique brand of schizophrenic electro… grind? The sounds contained here are wild and unhinged. Free. Thankfully, the production is top notch and everything sounds like it should. The heavy, the grindy, the math-y and the dreamy all coexist in a single package. Some will think mixing these elements together is downright blasphemy. I think it’s fucking awesome.

 BATS – Red in Tooth & Claw (2009)
Bandcamp | Facebook


I really can’t say more than what BC user MisandryCannon has already said: “Science, math-rock, post-hardcore and metal. What more could you ask for? SCIENCE/10.” With songs named after mathematicians (“Andrew Wiles”) and elementary particles (“Higgs Boson Particle”), this album sounds like an insane mix of The RaptureBattles and sludgy hardcore.

 2015 will also be a banner year for GodCity Studio. Here’s some stuff to look forward to, beyond new albums from MagrudergrindBlack Breath and Cult Leader:

(Photo VIA)

Did you dig this? Take a second to support Toilet ov Hell on Patreon!
  • How have I never heard of Genghis Tron till now???? Jesus, it is good!


    • Dr. W.’s Tentacles

      I actually mentioned them in a blurb once.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Well, you never really checked out Morbid Angel, so how could not checking out Genghis Tron be some catastrophic problem?

      • I listened to both Domination and Gateways in full. I just never touched back with you guys.

        I enjoyed them both – I am not sure if I will buy either one though.


    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      Fuckin’ just nailed that interview GL.

      • BOOOOOM!!!! How was it?? Good????

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          Yeah, it was good. I was late, cause I got lost, so I was stressed, but the lady was chill about it. She was excited I am a college grad, there is a case management position I could transition into. Starting pay is not as abysmal as I thought. I have a two hour second interview on Thursday morning, see what the gig is like.

          • Hell yes. Second interviews FTW! Great great great!

            Did it seem like a much better place than your other prospect??

            None-abysmal pay is great too. That just means there is room to show them your badassery and grow!

            Fine work, buddy.


          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            I have to say, I was way more charming than normal during the interview, hahaha.

            Yeah, much better prospect. Full time, Monday through Friday, no evenings or weekends, tangentially related to where I want to end up, pretty close to home…

            BOOM GL.



          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            I just have to show up on Thursday morning *not* wearing a metal tee shirt.

          • Dealbreaker.

      • Dagon
    • Cause you’re a n00b to the sc3n3.

  • Mother Shabubu III 12 BRICKS

    God I miss Genghis Tron…

  • Kurt Ballou 4 Life. The man knows how to make great sounding records.

  • Tyree
    • Tyree

      Ryan Waste of Municipal Waste dose vocals/bass for this band. Just throwing that out there.

    • Dagon

      I like these dudes a lot. Out of the bands featured here I think Empty Vessels is the only one you’ll dig, but I might be mistaken.

      Check them out.

      • Tyree

        Not doing it for me duders.

  • Guacamole Jim

    Bats >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      • Guacamole Jim


        • Dr. W.’s Tentacles

          I like that bat’s little green scarf. Here’s another video for you.

          • Guacamole Jim
          • Dr. W.’s Tentacles

            You just went full weeb.

          • Guacamole Jim

            It was only expression that captured how my heart felt when I watched those ADORABLE BATS

          • Sometimes it’s the only way to express what’s in your heart. And sometimes what’s in your heart is KAWAII DESU NEEEE

          • Dr. W.’s Tentacles

            The boy ain’t right.

          • This one is gold. You can’t fuck with that face.

          • Tyree

            I just ate a banana and It was bad. Eating healthy is boring.

          • Dr. W.’s Tentacles

            I love bananas! I ate one today, plus two little nectarines and some carrots.

          • Tyree

            I had yogurt too. These are all things I’d never eat, but I’m trying to be good with my diet. Stupid stomach!

          • Dr. W.’s Tentacles

            Eating healthy can definitely be boring, but it’s worth it. Good for you, dude.

          • 3 bananas a day for me at least.

  • HessianHunter

    Saw Sleeping In Gethsemane when they were touring toward Salem to record this record at Godcity. They ruled. I saw the guitarist again when he took a train to Minneapolis from Salt Lake City just to see a sick Minneapolis band called Self-evident play their 15th anniversary show. What a guy.

    • EsusMoose

      I know the drummer of Self-evident, he used to be my drum teacher for year or so. He’s a great drummer and the band has some cool stuff

      • HessianHunter

        That guy rules. He’s like the Steve Jordan of math rock, only plays the bare minimum of what’s necessary.

        • Dagon

          OT but that Daikaiju band really is awesome.

          • My brother has seen them live a few times, says their shows are absolutely nuts.

          • Dagon

            Yeah, I accidentally confirmed my attendance to a concert of theirs the Pumpkin Baby is going, hahaha.

            Now me and another friend from Brazil are jamming the band hard thanks to this accident.

          • HessianHunter

            If there was ever a live review worth writing, it would be for that band. Holy fuck was that a fun experience.

  • The Armed >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Get on it here. It’s all free.

    • Their discography is solid, they will offer the new one as a free download as well.

      • Excellent fucking news! I’m gonna hafta throw them a few bucks, though.

    • Dagon

      Gonna get in on this ASAP.

      • The old drummer from DEP played on a couple of their releases and Nick from Baptists is playing on the new one. Try and contain your boner for this.

        • Dagon

          I actually tattooed “Nick from Baptists” on my crotch from all the boners he gave me in the last two years.

  • Dr. W.’s Tentacles
    • Maik Beninton

      Gonna stab for LP lyrics.

    • Death by dankness.

    • A Blue Whale’s Used Condom

      Did he just have a stroke? It looks like the left side of his face is practically dead and his left arm shrunk.

    • Dagon

      Glad you liked them. I almost decided not to feature them but after listening to the whole thing (it gets progressively heavier without losing the dance factor) I figured they were too good not to showcase.

      I may do a second installment of this a couple weeks from now.

    • Óðhinn
  • I discovered that Genghis Tron album my freshman year of college right after it came out, and I can still listen to it today and be wowed by it.

  • Sleeping in Gethesemane is very very good!

    The production is crystal clear without behind too much polished. This guy knows his art.

  • EsusMoose

    I almost know every group here already, take that! Great bands though didn’t know BATS had another record.

  • old_man_doom

    I cannot praise this man enough. If there are any aspiring producers out there (like myself), go check out the class he did for creativelive. I learned quite a bit

    • Dagon

      I think you learned alright. Everything I’ve heard from you was top notch.

      • old_man_doom

        Dank you, fish god.

  • Óðhinn

    This is good stuff Dagon. Agreed about Kurt Ballou and Colin Marston producing some great music.

  • Kurt also recorded a band that sounded exactly like Converge. This came out around the same time as Jane Doe.

    • Dagon

      Even the artwork resembles those Converge records pre-Jane Doe.


      I just went browsing those album arts and none of them look like this except Jane Doe. Am I drunk?

      • I think Bannon did the cover art on this, definitely looks like it.

  • A Blue Whale’s Used Condom

    Board Up The House was a good one. Haven’t heard GT in ages though.

  • The Beargod

    Oh Jaa! Me like a GodCity. Also most of these bands are v nice.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Genghis Tron woooooo!!!!!!!!!!! Also digging on Empty Vessels!

  • Manny O War

    There was a band that recorded there called THE PRAYER that were amazing.


    I listened this thanks to Tyree who named them. Now, the song is stuck in my head.

  • Guppusmaximus

    ” Instead, each member of the trio is a fundamental layer of a fluid, seamless sound. ”

    Well, a good trio understands that it needs 3 prolific musicians. You can’t afford to have a tonic pounder for a bass player and expect to fill the space.

  • Empty Vessels is dirty as all fuck and I love it. I knew there was a reason I got out of bed today . . .

  • Óðhinn

    Pettybone. All female punk band, album produced by Kurt Ballou…

  • Call the Slambulance

    Fuck yeah, The Armed are killer! Glad to see them get coverage! Also, this is really well written, fishbrah. Keep up the goodies 😉