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My first exposure to the monolithic sound of Godflesh came in the form of the "Cold World" EP. Outside of Swans and early Neubauten, it is hard to find a more rigid, cold, and nihilistic worldview that is equal parts assaultive, meditative, beautiful, and ugly. I cannot think of a more apt title for this EP. From the promo art to the type font to the music itself, Godflesh's musical vision is stark, skeletal, mechanical, and sterile -- a repetitive bludgeon of unceasingly relentless industrial metal.
The title track is one of Godflesh's great songs. The false lull of the opening synths sets you up for a sucker punch as J.K. Broadrick's abrasive guitar chords and G.C. Green's tank tread bassline obliterate all hope, painting an aural canvas so harsh it borders on unlistenable. The echoey, inchoate vocals deteriorate things further, glazing on a layer of melancholy that makes 'Cold World' a portrait of despair writ large. I get chills every time I listen to it.
'Nihil' is even more extreme. The pummeling loop of the drum machine pushes the austerity to maximum levels. Add in a head-nodder of a bass line and Broadrick's screaming guitar noise and you get one of Godflesh's most mechanized and effective tracks.
In 1991, these songs were truly terrifying. I had never heard anything so dark, dense, and atmospheric before. Something so alien from metal that was also so obviously metal. It sounded like nothing else and still does. This EP is an excellent sampler of their early sound and is essential listening for all. Though long out of print, the songs have been repackaged several times by Earache and are easily available.
I should note that there are two remixes of 'Nihil' appended to my version of the EP, neither of which vary greatly from the original, though they hardly detract enough to warrant a low rating.