Review Summary: Godflesh are back and prove that ageing is sometimes a good thing.
Considering Godflesh's rather esoteric back catalogue, it does make me wonder if the creation of A World Lit Only By Fire
was something of a nostalgic conundrum for both band and fan alike; just where do they go? If Decline and Fall
was any indication, everywhere yet nowhere at the same time; using old ideas with a far more careful hand to find new forms of expression.
Indeed that idea is carried through and some on this album. All different strands of the band's DNA can be traced throughout A World Only Lit By Fire
yet they display a far more controlled and nuanced use of those past conventions. From the careful and varied applications of Pure
-esque guitar feedback throughout to the occasional use of dub elements and the return of Streetcleaner
-esque distorted vocals, it's a trip down memory lane that almost never feels rehashed or pointless, just fresh and inventive. The production is also bang on, containing just the right amount of grit and finesse as well as Ben Green's bass work with it's subtle little shifts and mutes that add so much to the music while being seemingly innocuous.
The most impressive part of this album, and the best evidence of how much care was put into it, is how complete the songwriting is at it's best. There are no grooves for grooves sake instead interlocking into alien melodies. These melodies sound at times appropriately militaristic but at others warped and mocking, like pop songs filtered through a lense of self-reflexive bitterness. Compile that with every other little detail and you have some of the purist outpourings of rage that the band has ever put out because of the added emotional depth. Godflesh's anger is still there but time has given it more definition and more angles.
A World Only Lit By Fire
then showcases a very particular stage in Broaderick and Green's lives through the careful balance of the past with hindsight. Time and hardships have helped create a very aged, misanthropic view that is spewed both on the world at large and their own past works, dissecting them, mocking them and moving on. As much as it's immediately brutal, it's also a slow burner that seethes with this bitterness. Does it make for a consistent album? Not always as some songs feel underdeveloped. Does it make for a good album though? Yes, one that gives a sense of real, lasting power through it's appeal to both brutality and subtlety and because of that it stands as one of their best.
New Dark Ages
Towers of Emptiness
Forgive Our Fathers