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Give the primary mental framer of grindcore a drum machine, a bleak view of mankind, some Throbbing Gristle influence and enough bass to sink a battleship and what do you get? You get Godflesh, the place were industrial despair meets metal weight, and one of the most quietly influential bands of the last 20 years. After disinteresting one of Napalm Death’s early unsteady guises, Justin Broadrick performed with distraught UK grime merchants Head Of David, but ultimately found his calling in Godflesh, creaking, pulsing beast blending the music of industrial music pioneers with the grindcore and death metal sounds that formed the heavy music scene’s most revolutionary approaches to date.
First off, Godflesh had the nerve to use a drum machine, not a flesh (ha!) and blood drummer. Second, they employed a bass sound tuned so low that it sounds more like some animalistic bellow than an instrument. Plus, Broadrick bathed his vocals in aural altering effects, and alternated his guitar work to incorporate either crushing or ethereal tones, creating a sound that was, for it’s day, incredibly unique. This release, the band’s six-song debut EP lays things out pretty uncompromisingly. You’ll either be enthralled by the density and desolation of the band’s sound, or find yourself running for ear protection. “Veins” is perhaps most accessible, featuring an up tempo beat and (somewhat) memorable riff structure, although Broadrick’s floating and moaning vocals make it very radio un-friendly. “Godhead” introduces one of the band’s signature rhythms; a slow paced trudge with snapping, abrupt tempo accents that bespeak of an underlying (and admitted) influence from New York’s seminal Swans. “Spinebender” sounds like it’s doing just that, and its super-slow dirge topped by unsettling guitar harmonics from Broadrick are impacting indeed.
The whole package (which has since been reissued, expanded and otherwise messed with) is the true meeting place for industrial and metal music, fomenting a sound that would be very influential and heavily marginalized by less creative hands in the years to come. Fortunately Godflesh would ever remain leaders rather than followers, setting the standard for meshing the bleak and emotionless pulses of the modern world with the force and weight of metallic science.
Beautiful... depressing... and genius,,, Godflesh.
So you heard it a million times... Justin went on to form this band after leaving Napalm Death, but make no mistake about it: this isn't grindcore or death metal like many people say! This is probably Godflesh's heaviest album, but it's not what everyone has been saying. This is pure experimental industrial. While many may crown Fear Factory the kings of industrial, Godflesh are the original kings of the genre with their bleak music and artistic expression.
This album is totally depressive... yet it's really beautiful despite it's very sludgy production. For the most part, this album is really bassy... all you hear is the bass being picked and plucked. You could hardly hear the guitar and the drum machines are pretty loud. There are also sound effects here and there but it all contributes to the gloomy sound of this self-titled album. Justin's voice matches up with the music perfectly... sometimes there's an occasional growl in the vein of Burton C. Bell of Fear Factory but clean vocals also pretty much in the vein of Mr. Bell. Though, for the most part, this CD is filled with distorted bass lines but it's not a bad thing... it makes the album really stand out.
To get a good idea of how this album sounds, picture yourself in a rugged industrious area under a grey pale sky. You're all alone and human life can only be found miles away from your location and you're surrounded by buildings reaching towards the dull sky. It begins pouring rain and you're left in the middle of this industrial area... that's the vibe I get when I hear this album. It's just so crestfallen to hear with the really distorted instruments and the very doomy beats.
All of the songs on this album are real standouts, but one song which really stands out is "Godhead." This is probably the most depressive track on the album with it's super doomy bass lines and guitar droning. Let alone, there's a real eerie sound effect which loops throughout the whole time which really gives you that "industrial" feel... or I should say that feeling I describe up above. It’s like there is some factory bell/horn being sounded in the middle of nowhere… I just can’t explain it, but it really gives this song some character. Justin’s vocal work is filled with despair in this song also where he sounds like he's talking to you as if he's dying. This song is definitely. If you would like something a lil faster and a bit "punkier," then check out "Veins" with it's loopy drum beat and consistent yet catchy bass guitar work.
All around, this album is pure industrial... you heard it many times, I know, I know! "Industrial metal is stuff like Fear Factory" and this may be true in some sense, but this is true industrial metal minus the death metal elements Fear Factory possess. For the most part, half of this album I wouldn't even consider metal because it's so different... I guess it's more industrial than being metal but hey they're Godflesh dammit. This is definitely essential if you're a fan of industrial or droning music or depressive artistic music... it's so beautiful (only if you can overlook the sludgy production.) This is definitely a great album to listen to whenever you're feeling lonely or stressed.
Ear Candy: All of the tracks, especially "Godhead."