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The Art of Godflesh

Godflesh is one of my favorite bands, and its not only because of their music (which kicks ass), but because their sensibilities. There's something going on there that distances itself from the rest of the industrial/sludge, another vibe. And you can tell already by looking at their cover art. Of course i'm on the "can't take multi-media art by separating it from the whole" camp, and talking about cover art without the music is a bit sus, but I feel there's a lot of Godflesh's ethos that comes straight through their choice of covers.

s/t EP (1988)
What a great way to start off! A band's first release has to be a strong statement of intent and purpose, a manifesto of sorts. So it makes sense that their first EP literally comes at you. It's bold, it's cold, it's menacing and it's MEMORABLE. There's also this implication of violence, a snuff-like vibe that will run through a lot of their future art. Literally perfect. 10/10.

Streetcleaner (1989)
Streetcleaner's might be just as, if not more iconic for the image of Godflesh as a band that their previous EP. The cover, which comes from a stillframe of the movie "altered states", depicts a field of crucifixions, behind a backdrop of what seems like flames. A very hellish scene, indeed. Here we can see, very summarized, most if not all of Godflesh's consistent iconography: Crucifixion/Christian imagery; Body horror/torture/snuff (in the vouyeristic pleasure of violence and pain); and lastly the metaphysical theme, a tendency towards ecstatic states, which relate heavily with the themes of torture and pain (see Bataille). A consentrated doze of Godflesh. 10/10.

Slavestate EP (1991)
A close-up of a child's face, semi-obscured, seen through what seems to be a TV or some screen. Again, the persistence of themes. A distance from reality, an irreality of reality depicted in the double separation: a still from a photo of a screen. Again, a close-up of a face, a child this time, looking out with his mouth open, not particularly showing any emotion. Detatchment? Isolation? The only warmth in this picture seems to come from the light of the TV. Very good cover 8/10.
Cold World

Coldworld EP (1991)
A man stands over looking down on... something? with his faces obscured and a grimace that makes it hard to make out what he's feeling atm. Tbh this is not their best cover art. Mostly I don't like the shirt lol. 6/10

Pure (1992)
Now this is a very interesting cover. Here we can see what appears to be the hand of a statue, partly shrouded, and heavily deteriorated by the weather and growths of small plants. It's a beautifully textured picture in all tones of gray and black. Again, we see this theme of decay, linked back to the body horror of previous covers, but there's also this aesthetification of decay. From dust to dust kind of theme going on, makes me think of graveyards. The title in gold is also a really nice touch. 10/10, classic cover.

Merciless EP (1994)
Another still frame from a movie, this time we can see a black and white image of a flower on the floor as the shadow of a hand, distorted, seems to reach towards it. Very eerie imagery. There's a longing in this picture, but a sinister one. It's not someone picking up a flower, but a shadow hand from a face-less thing. The shadow can't ever reach the real. The real (the flower, in this case) is dying, or most likely already dead, on the floor. Notice that the flower isn't on the ground, but cut out from its own "reality" as well. Quite merciless. 9/10.

Selfless (1994)
Selfless introduces a new twist on the theme of body and corporality that runs through the whole band's concept (music and artwork). Here we see what appears to be a human brain-cell "growing" on a microchip. The idea seems interesting, and the image i am left with is somewhat creepy, like a cancerous thing, an evil thing. I like it as an idea but to be honest i don't think this color scheme has the impact that it needed to have. It's far from a bad cover, but put in context? it's servicable at best, great concept, lacks impact. 7/10.
Songs of Love and Hate

Songs of Love and Hate (1996)
Ok ok ok. Im not gonna lie here. I love this cover. It's got a cool dichotomy of body-machine, materialism and spirituality, religious imagery and industrial rust-belt, "S1 True Detective" nihilistic atmosphere that's just COOL. Is it a bit on the nose? yeah, wgaf, loser. 10/10.
Us and Them

Us and Them (1999)
Now, this might be a bit harsh, mostly because of my love for this album. But I gotta be honest. This is one is kiiiinda lame. A stretched out gargoyle with a blue-filter? that's like... nothing. I don't like this one. It's got a cool looking gargoyle in it, ig... But why is it stretched out? what was the theme? the idea? what did they want to convey? I know that some people consider this and the next album the "lost years" of Godflesh and tho i disagree, it makes sense to think "wth were they thinking?" as soon as one sees this. Only because gargoyles are still cool, i give this a 3/10.

Hymns (2001)
The band's last studio album before their reunion. After the last cover it was going to be a difficult task to do worse, so they decided to play it safe. There's nothing particularly bad about this cover. I can even see some sort of guiding theme: an energy source of some kind, a star or a sun, something that's spouting out sparks violently. The angular and sharp ends of the sparks gives this an aggressive, fiery image. It's not a masterpiece, and doesn't get along too well with their other artwork, but it's ok. 6/10.

Messiah EP (2003)
Godflesh post-humous EP, officially released in 2003 after seeing only a limited release a few years back. The cover is a photo of a dawning sky with some beautiful clouds. White as a dominant in the cover immediately shows us that there's something going on here. Dawn/dusk aren't opposites, but rather polarities. As Godflesh reaches its own dusk, new things come with the dawning skies. The band's name boldly front and center, proud, i'd say, aware of the legacy they've created. This cover fills me with a sense of dignity and pride, not without a little sadness. 9/10.
Decline and Fall

Decline and Fall EP (2013)
After reuniting back in 2011, the band goes on to release a new EP in 2013. A grainy black and white negative of a man behind bars. There's a lot of menace in this image, like it's Manson behind those bars lol, but there's also I guess a lot of anticipation, it's like it's saying it doesn't want to be contained anymore. A return to a well known path for this return. 8/10.
A World Lit Only by Fire

A World Lit Only By Fire (2014)
Another stillframe, this time from an experimental shortfilm, "Lot in Sodom". In it we see the naked body of a man holding a sword with both hands, with his face completely out of frame. Now this is an amazing cover. Once again, the stillframe gives off this detatched reality vibe that we know well is a band trademark. The tension between the beauty and homoerotism of the naked body and the inherent violence and religious zealotry implicit in the image. This immediately made me think of crusades, holy wars or inquisitiors. The battle between transcendence and body and the morality of man is peak Godflesh artwork. Another banger. 10/10
Post Self

Post Self (2017)
And finally. The silouette of an angel, probably a statue, with a morning sky as backlight. This cover seems to work in contrast with the last one, both functioning as counterpoints of each other. While "a world..." is bodily and violent, "post self" appears significantly more tranquile. I wouldn't say peaceful, but here it is again the contemplation of death as transcendance, a respite from the world of flesh. This cover doesn't work as great on its own as "a world"s does, so i won't give it a perfect score, sorry. 9/10
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