When discussing the music of Godflesh
with almost any fan, two words are sure to make their way into the conversation: Dark and Heavy. So what, right? There’s tons of metal bands around nowadays claiming to be “a heavier [insert 80’s metal band here]” or even “bringing the underground brutality to the mainstream” or whatever the hell else passes for a catchphrase to sell some crappy album from former nu-metallers who decided to get with the times by tuning down to Q flat. Whatever. The word “heavy” is overused and we all know it.
Well not many bands come within leagues of the brutality and atmosphere of dissonant abyss that is Godflesh
. The only records that come close to the level of sheer weight that this album exerts might be early Isis
or post-Destroy Erase Improve Meshuggah
, and the former made no effort to hide their idolization of this legendary industrial power. Streetcleaner
is the album that put this band on the map of the underground scene and what has inspired countless of other bands looking for a way to best create a dense pall of black thoughts and feelings. When it was released in 1990, I would imagine this was the definition of sludge. The seed of a new wave of “doom metal” was herein planted, one that exhibited complete and unrelenting brutality not by way of havoc, but by of the impending doom and anxiety that precedes.
For the most part it plods along in its murk of distorted vocals, guitar and bass marching to the mechanized drum beats. Atmospherically disharmonic leads sometimes play under the entire song without changing while the rhythms and grooves experiment underneath as a separate yet connected entity seeking to compliment its counterpart in every possible manner. In fact, besides the few samples and programmed percussion, there isn’t much usage of electronic programming or synths as is common in industrial music for atmospheric creations; the guitar work is unnerving and slightly machine-esque enough to dominate the soundscape.
The rhythms usually repeat throughout the entire song with a few changes, and for the unaccustomed might threaten boredom. Delay-drenched drones of anguished yells and monotonous chants accompanies the pounding groove, promising never to let you taste of light until you stop listening. Streetcleaner
is devoid of remorse.
As an album, Streetcleaner
is best listened to whole, at once, or at least in succession. Some tracks do drag out a little long and can be a little unpleasant, but it should be remembered that Godflesh
did not create this music as pleasant art. This is a soundtrack to emotional devestation, the hellish confines of the disabled and disturbed mind and body, scorched souls devoid of hope and self-respect, the ones that didn’t make it out on top but instead ended up where man can sink no further. The art is not only in accepting this environment as real, and seeing the perverse beauty of disdain and utter nothingness of a moral wasteland, but accepting and realizing the fear of these environments and the futility of the self when confronted with these. Expecting Streetcleaner
as something different is not an option with one of the darkest musical experiences known to man.
not only for context, but for overall work as an album
Mighty Trust Krusher
Dream Long Dead