Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire
Around 2010, the pioneering factory-inspired metal union of GC Green and Justin K. Broadrick, this union commonly known by its allegiant as Godflesh, reformed for live shows after about 8 years of silence. With this reunion came promise of new material, a promise that paid off twice in 2014 with the Decline and Fall EP, which was released around June, and the band’s first LP since 2001’s Hymns, A World Lit Only By Fire.
A significant presence in the late 80s as far as industrial metal, Godflesh helped lead the way for many of the drum-machined mammoths that pushed through the Alterna-breach of the early to mid 90s, bands like Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein, Stabbing Westward and Filter having enjoyed some time in the spotlight, creating some of the era’s best-known (and, at times, most disposable) releases. That being said, it would be easy enough to consider the genre exhausted and Godflesh’s return either the result of some decision to cash in on nostalgia or to maybe stave off boredom. Neither would be very fair considering Broadrick’s ongoing success with Jesu, which is in and of itself an industrial project. It’s taken about four years following the band’s reunion for them to produce new material, which means they either couldn’t carry on as a live act subsisting on classics, or it took Broadrick and Green that long to grow comfortable enough to begin swapping ideas and writing a new Godflesh album. From that standpoint, you could consider Decline and Fall as somewhat of a feeler, gauging interest and reception from fans’ perspectives so as to answer the question, “Is a new Godflesh album really necessary?”
Well, it’s a kick ass album. So necessity can go fuck itself.
A World Lit Only By Fire, the band’s seventh release, is propulsive, misanthropic and dense, riff-driven and seismic. It’s not too varied by any sense, melody and time signature two mostly absent factors as far as this album is concerned, but the emphasis on push/pull guitar riffs sells just about every cut. A tinny circuit-generated hi-hat sets the rhythm for the album’s intro, “New Dark Ages,” and the first chord falls directly on the snare beat. It’s immediately satisfying. The album’s third track, “Shut Me Down,” revolves around this hammer-meets-nails construct that I could listen to for days. The phrasing that follows each verse provides an excellent payoff delivered numerous times. For me, it’s an absolute highlight, although it’s one of the album’s least complicated tracks. The same can be said for “Curse Us All,” Green’s bass rhythm veritably scraping through its near 4-minute running time. “Carrion”’s start-stop sludge morphs into wiry sprigs of choked distortion, a chunky composition that thrusts more than it drives or hammers.
While the album could be viewed as structurally simple, Godflesh do make attempts at widening the music’s scope enough so you’re not inundated with repetition. “Deadend” finds opportunities for blast beats and shifts from the track’s basic theme a tad for the outro. For “Life Giver Life Taker,” Broadrick softly enunciates as guitar textures are explored and some chord tangents addressed. “Obeyed” takes some liberties with the otherwise rhythmic persistence found throughout the rest of the album, the beats placed oddly in correlation with the song’s verses, though the song lapses into moments of comprehensive stride.
“Imperator,” which is one of the album’s singles, sounds most composed next to many of the album’s more expanded tracks. Broadrick’s vocal floats across a series of sonic stabs and bass notes, a percussive march of sorts adding tension. While there’s no real lack of aggression, “Imperator” does have a more pensive tone to it, making it probably the album’s most accessible song.
The album’s longest tracks, “Towers of Emptiness” and “Forgive Our Fathers,” are also the last. Through breathy drones and walls of guitar-induced murk, each song plays like a final act, ultra-slow and loud though sullen. “Forgive Our Fathers” transitions from a percussively dented crawl into a mesmerizing 4-minute jam. Broadrick’s vocal fades out for its final minute, capping a renewed partnership without diminishing its legacy.
Genre: Metal / Sludge/Post-Metal
Label: Avalanche Recordings
Site: Related Link
Similar: Swans, Big Black
- New Dark Ages — 4:51
- Deadend — 5:08
- Shut Me Down — 4:26
- Life Giver Life Taker — 5:28
- Obeyed — 5:35
- Curse Us All — 3:47
- Carrion — 6:05
- Imperator — 4:27
- Towers Of Emptiness — 6:35
- Forgive Our Fathers — 7:40