Review Summary: The album we should have got 3 years ago.
For how long it had taken to revive the flaccid corpse of Godflesh back in 2014, it’s questionable whether Broadrick and Green wanted to come back with the project in the first place, simply being pressured into making a new album. A World Lit Only By Fire
was a great return, there’s no doubt about that, but when you analyse what it brings to the table, it kind of feeds the case on why they came back. The best way I can describe it is by saying A World Lit Only By Fire
is a fan pleaser record through-and-through. The type of album you’d wish to hear from a band that has been away for so long; a collection of tracks that conjures up all the tropes, trademarks and characteristics of the band and squeezes every ounce of resource from them. For me, it was a little tainted however. I thoroughly enjoyed the return: both EP and LP satisfied my itch in a very gratifying way, but the cynic in me felt these songs were a little too
safe to come from someone like Godflesh – a band that has had an all-embracing, heterogeneous mindset to the music at hand. They might well have abrasion galvanised into their skeleton, but their catalogue of music documents a wide variety of styles that has constantly pushed the band to their creative limits, and with A World Lit Only By Fire
– for how well it does the old sound (and does it well) – you don’t really get that.
I’ll be quite open in saying, I didn’t see a new record coming from these guys, it literally fell under my radar and happened to stumble across it. The reason I never saw it coming was because I thought Godflesh had finally put the beast to bed; they were happy, we were happy – but the guys obviously felt otherwise. Upon hitting the play button, the question lingered: what was Post Self
going to be: a full-on nostalgic assault, or an album that would push the band into deeper creative territories? In all honesty, it looks as though Justin and Ben are looking at this era of their career as a bit of fun; a celebration of everything they’ve made up to this point – and not just in this band. Like A World Lit Only By Fire
, this record takes a certain dependency on their older works – albeit to a much smaller degree – with no real need for venturing into the unknown. Songs like “Post Self”, “Parasite” and “No Body” feel reminiscent of the Pure
, Street Cleaner
days, offering a flurry of the classic, crunchy drum beats, thunderous bass and grinding guitar riffs, matched by the band’s usual head-swaying grooves. Justin’s vocal work is a great highlight here as well, using a barrage of distorted vocal screams and grunts to solidify the band’s signature feral soundscape, and while nothing new, it’s all extremely entertaining stuff.
Yet, with the predicable nature of the album’s opening three tracks, if there was to be a comparison made on which of the two albums was better, Post Self
would win the battle with ease. This is because there’s a lot more happening on this LP; a real emphasis on influence from other projects makes its way to songs on here, and is much more experimental than the former, adding an injection of freshness to Godflesh’s sound: one of the album’s best tracks, “Be God”, is most definitely based around a Techno Animal framework of distorted, downright bleak and despondent electronics; whittling away at your mood right up until the end where a beautiful guitar part comes in, simply ringing out a chord with blinding clarity, cutting through the depressive mood set throughout. It’s little ideas like this that set it apart from its relatively derivative predecessor. The JK Flesh undertones on “Pre Self”, and the sprinklings of Jesu on the face-crushing “Morality of Sorrow”; to a well-accustomed vet of Justin Broadrick’s work, these things are nothing new, but when they’re integrated so effortlessly into Godflesh’s sound they make for a much more engaging listen.
To me, this is the album we should have gotten three years ago. It makes a statement and stands to say why they’re back at it again. It takes all of the things we love about Godflesh and adds a trove of things Justin and G. C. have learnt in the band’s absence. These other influences really stand to make this album one of – if not – the best industrial albums of 2017. At a lean 10 tracks, this thing operates on nothing but gristle, there really isn’t any padding to be found. The ambient passages on here stand only to enrich the experience and, with all the great Godflesh-y riffs to be found here, ties the album into one complete, punishing exercise on how to make heavy music with a difference. This should not to be missed by anyone.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A