Review Summary: Godflesh delivers its last industrial hymn.
Justin Broadrick is man with many faces. To prove this, he is worshiped as a founder of the entire grind genre, releasing Scum
in 1987 with Napalm Death. Shortly after, Broadrick quit to form Godflesh and released the quintessential industrialized metal record that blew down doors in 1989 called Streetcleaner
. After calling it quits with Godflesh in 2002, Broadrick amazed critics by totally reinventing himself again as a shoegaze, industrialized whatever-you-want-to-call-it band named Jesu. So what’s the point of reiterating Broadrick’s career in a generalized fashion? The point of the matter is to show you how diverse of an artist he has become over time and to also point out how his fanbase has followed and adapted to all of Broadrick’s many changing faces over the years. Unfortunately, if you are just beginning to discover this eccentric, yet focused artist, I fully believe everything else that comes after only reinforces why Godflesh was his best work to date.
, as a whole, almost feels like a summarization of everything this band has done right up to this point in time, incorporating the mechanical, staccato riffing of Streetcleaner
and the jagged, memorable melodies and clean production of Selfless
. What seems to be missing on the vast majority of Hymns
are the noisy excursions of Us and Them
, which isn’t a bad thing considering Broadrick still knows how to beat you senseless with his mid-tempo, guitar driven assault. Speaking of guitar driven, all thirteen cuts on here pertain to the riff with the odd clean passage popping up here and there where Broadrick revolves his clean vocals around. This is particularly effective in the post-metal effect of “Anthems”, allowing Broadrick to enter into a more spacious mindset which he dabbled with a bit on Selfless
. What’s interesting about Broadrick’s power-chord use on Hymns
is that he lets the chords ring out a lot more, letting the songs breathe instead of capturing that suffocating atmosphere that his guitar work created on Streetcleaner
. Some fans may not take too kindly to this, but you might as well just face the reality of what Broadrick had planned in store for his next band. This could be a reflection of his first experimentations into Jesu, but it’s extremely unlikely that you could mistake the two bands; this is still Godflesh through and through. Want a good example? Listen to the crushing opener “Defeated” for a bi-polar example of old vs. new Godflesh. “Animals” really seems to benefit the most from his two amalgamated sides, coming out as a swinging, proggy beast and showing us that Broadrick has matured so much as an industrial artist.
Although, as great as most of Godflesh’s songs are, sometimes Broadrick’s vocals can become a little grating on the nerves, especially when the pounding music lets up and we find Broadrick repeating a crappy lyric over and over again as if he were trying to capture his audience in a type of trance (“Voidhead”). One particular track really stands out as an ear-sore, mostly for its terrible lyrics and bland song writing (“Vampires”); the filler track that always seems to mess up an amazing album. Another track that seems somewhat out of place is “Antihuman” that is simply a mix of Broadrick’s love for electronic experimenting and metal. It’s not that this is a horrible song, it’s that it feels out of place within the context of the whole.
Leave it to Broadrick to put out such a cold, mechanical album that jars, revolts and puts most industrial metal to shame. If you simply think that he has created another Streetcleaner
as his last farewell, the man of many faces will show you how to build on a past sound that includes a few nifty little tricks up the sleeve. This would be the last calling of a now defunct industrial band and you couldn’t ask for a more competent musician to go out on a higher note. One last thing, take note of the end track on here called “Jesu”. A hint perhaps?