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Photo Credit: Kim Solve

Whilst Christmas, birthdays and the wallet-busting promise of a council tax increase come once a year, Godflesh albums usually take a bit longer to arrive, but when they do, it’s a beautiful moment to savour and we should celebrate the kings of “feel-bad” music.

Before we go further, let’s ask ourselves some questions. Are there immutable things in our lives that feel like they won’t stop hurting us? Is there a person who badly let you down, who you thought was in your corner? Did you lose out on a big promotion or job that would have changed your life for the better? Do any of these events leave us with a feeling that humanity is a faceless and cruel concept? If the answers are yes, congratulations, you have taken the first, healing step to falling in love with Godflesh.

Godflesh aren’t heavy or brutal in the same way as a Metallica or a Slipknot, or as ludicrous and deranged as extreme bands like Anaal Nathrakh. There are no cool logos that kids had on their schoolbags, no bravado and no pretence at being more “metal” than anyone else, and no-one is going to tell you this is “a really fucking heavy one” when they play live, because most of their songs are so brutally oppressive and suffocating it’s a redundant point.

This album, the first since 2017’s Post Self and third since reforming, has by guitarist and vocalist Justin Broadrick’s own admission been written with the emotional themes of 1992’s Pure in mind, as well as its musical inspirtations. Broadrick has recently been diagnosed as a neurodivergent person, and has described the band’s music as a way of purging those feelings of otherness and outsiderness. The band have always been fairly sparse on the amount of lyrics, but when tracks like LAZARUS LEPER has a repeated refrain simply stating “nothing makes sense,” Broadrick’s explanations make a lot of sense.

NERO is built around a starkly swaggering riff and drum pattern, almost a bit upbeat for Godflesh, but fear not, the song pummels the listener in that machine-like way Godflesh have done for decades, and Broadrick’s impassioned, wonderfully weathered vocals…whilst LAND LORD centres around the sort of rhythm and beat you’d expect to hear in 1990’s hip-hop, and is brutally effective as both a soundtrack to ultraviolence against enemies and cardiovascular exercise, as this reviewer can attest.

PERMISSION rattles along like a nastier version of Pitchshifter, a band heavily inspired by Godflesh in their early days. The way the bass throbs and dances around like a mechanical lion about to grind you into paste is intoxicating. Dare we say it but THE FATHER is almost pleasant to listen to, the Godflesh equivalent of a chilled out number, as Broadrick is mostly singing on that one, not too dissimilar to his Jesu project, just with crushing guitars. 

YOU ARE THE JUDGE, JURY AND EXECUTIONER is a brooding, bad trip of a song and a haunting way to close this album. Built around a simple, insistent bass part from Ben Green, the song also features a haunting vocal counterpoint and slowly drives what’s left of your body into the ground, completing itself with a slow fade out and leaving the listener feeling, for want of a better term, purged.

The Bagger 288 was once considered the heaviest machine in the world. It weighed in at over 13,000 tonnes. If it was still the heaviest machine in the world, it would have been eclipsed by the drum machine on this album. The production on PURGE is brilliantly full yet very stark, really capturing a feeling of walking through your own despair, only that despair is a post-industrial city and all the shops are replaced by soulless vending machines that are out of stock of everything other than beans. Sure, the beans will sustain you and keep you alive so you can do your soul sapping job well enough to not get sacked, but you want more from your life. You want potatoes, carrots, fine meats and other more interesting foods. But all you have is beans. There will be no seasonings for you in this scenario. Only dry, joyless beans forever…but also maybe a light, peppery garnish peeks through, as there are cracks of potatoes peeking from the ground. That’s a lighter description, sure, of the feeling that only Godflesh’s soundscapes can inspire, but you won’t hear many other bands who attempt to capture this feeling without having to dress it up in some way.

PURGE takes a less musically complex path than Post Self, but it’s more direct nature doesn’t mean it’s sacrificed any power or feeling. That album ended with a piece that the reviewer wants played at their funeral as their body is incinerated, such is its beautiful finality. If you want your music to be easy on the ear and to be singable in the car you may wish to skip this, and that’s valid. However, if you want music that reflects the visceral cruelty of the world and its unstoppable supply of strife and indignities, then PURGE, and by extension Godflesh, is something you must have in your life and soul.



For Fans Of: Killing Joke, Swans, Lingua Ignota

Written by: Louis Tsangarides

Tags : Godflesh