Review Summary: The begining of an underground legend. Armed with raw anger, power and DIY production comes the bleak eyesight of our mechanical beasts.
Welcome to Birmingham in 1988, young Justin Broadrick is barely a teenager after leaving Napalm Death and playing with Head of David but he's still got creativity and ideas to share. With his friend Ben Green on Bass and the Machines on drums he decides to create the artistic entity known as Godflesh. Heavily influenced by the likes of Swans, Killing Joke as well as Throbbing Gristle. Justin and Ben chose to channel their anger through a violent mechanical lo-fi sound. And so the same year sees the birth of Godflesh as a band and as an E.P.
The Godflesh E.P is structured, repetitive, cold, bleak, filthy and primal. The drumming of the machines pummel you into the ground like on "Spinebender", the bass and guitar are in search of texture and atmosphere and achieve in doing so by giving us the ambiance of an empty but functional factory, filled with only the rhythms of the machines and the racket of the pipes. The only human presence to be found is Justin's voice, ranging from angry and guttural like on the opener "Avalanche Master Song" or calmer and menacing like in the cold immensity of "Godhead". His vocals and repetitive lyrics manage to reinforce the already oppressive feel of the music and serves the machines more than the machines serves him.
Outside of such a crushing atmosphere, all of the riffs from both Justin and Ben are ridiculously tight and can just devour one's self-control and calm in a second, leaving you entranced and following their rules as with "Veins" or the furious "Weak Flesh" the two really throbbing pieces on the album and (like all the rest of the E.P) killer material in their own right. The rhythm section is strong and (as aformentioned) primal since it's under the careful hands of the machines. A longer composition like "Wounds" sees a song based on a few rhythm sets and the rest revolving next to it; creating an engaging track that keeps on progressing within the factory with the sounds of the manufacturing belt and human whispers around it.
Songs like "Streetcleaner II" (added as a bonus like "Wounds" but part of the same sessions and era) even show the more experimental side of Godflesh. Here taking a lot of influence from noise and power electronics bands with a recording played alongside a void of dissonance, dead slow rhythms and general eeriness; resulting in a tense and brooding piece that will make you certainly uneasy...
This record simply encompasses what makes Godflesh such a special band, they rose and denounced the horror of the industrial alienating world by becoming the infernal machine themselves. The S/T gives us a general view of what they would later accomplish as well as being a biting and dark first record that should be heard by any fan of Isis or heavy music in general. Here's to Godflesh: Masters of a new found heaviness that didn't solely rely on the power of your amps but also on the world that they can convey; in this case a world that has lost all hope and dreams, where every day is exactly the same...
Side fact: See the cover? It's a still from "Seconds" a pretty damn good horror flick from 1966; watch it if you're getting sick of all those remakes of horror movies.