Review Summary: Streetdecimator
Amidst the densely populated battlefield of bands and artists, the war can occasionally furnish a bleak outlook. A perception that previews music as a collective being swallowed up entirely by its contrived fad-focused flocks, who fight to over-saturate their chosen scenes into becoming stagnantly formulaic and conservative processes. But as every decade has proven, just as it looks like all hope is about to dissipate forever, at some point that said decade will give birth to a game-changing album; a genre defying masterpiece that will spur on another vicious cycle of echoic music making. These innovative reinventions might not be to everyone’s tastes, but a wise person can appreciate the tenacity for change. For the 80s, Godflesh contributed critically to metal’s evolution just before the turn of the 90s. At face-value Godflesh’s influences might not have been the nuclear explosion of Nirvana’s work, but it was certainly the nerve agent for the underground scene and has heralded an infinite supply of inspiration ever since.
1989 was a year that saw heavy metal on the down and out. The thrash and hair-metal bands at the start of the decade were beginning to overstay their welcome and a new strand for the genre was due to surface. Coming off the heels of their menacing self-titled EP, Godflesh answered the call with their exceptional debut album Streetcleaner
. This album, as well as the EP, took the archetypal stylings of Throbbing Gristle’s industrial genius and fused it with sludgy, down-tempos and crushing riffs. Justin and G. C. Green’s upbringing in the industrially unwelcoming landscape of Birmingham (Much like in the same way Black Sabbath drew their inspirations from a post-World War II Birmingham.) plays an importance to Streetcleaner
’s unique aesthetic. You can hear as many duplicated efforts that try to sound like this as you want, but there’s an inimitable quality to this LP that, to this day, can rarely be heard nearly as well. The cold, emotionless drone from the album’s drum machine clicks add further disconsolate and isolation, while Broadrick’s pulsed vocal spurts galvanise a finality to the tone of the tracks. I can’t emphasis the intimidation enough: as if the iconic artwork depicting a field of blacked out crucified men and the engulfment of fire surrounding them isn’t telling enough, I can only imagine the effect it would have on someone hearing the feedback introduction to “Like Rats” for the first time back in 1989 with Justin’s demonically declarative snarl of ”you breed like rats”
coming into play.
isn’t paving the way for an entire generation with its fresh perception on nihilistic aggression, it’s using stripped back root notes and hypnotic rhythm arrangements to do the rest of the lifting. G. C. Green’s iconic bass tone is simply unmatched and, like everything else going on in the record, adds further despondency to the forlorn throughout. The crunching drives and swings to the likes of “Dream Long Dead”, “Christbait Rising” and “Wound” or his pinpoint syncopation with the lifeless drums creates an unprecedented mayhem. From Broadrick’s end, he takes his guitar playing to a place of minimalism, relying on different types of feedback, effects and distortion to form depth and texture to this soupy nightmare. “Dead Head” highlights just how frantic and cathartic this abrasive LP can be, filled with a pummelling rhythm section, ethereal elongated vocal notes and descending chords this song shows an ironic sense of optimism for a brief moment in the album’s journey.
The importance of Streetcleaner
is irrefutable. Arguably the founding blueprint for industrial-metal – an argument I stand in favour of – Godflesh not only come out of the gate with a brand new and influential sound, they walk out of it with their first album. It’s no surprise they’ve gone on to reinvent themselves and the wheel time and time again without so much as a stain on their catalogue of music. If you’re a fan of industrial-metal and haven’t got around to checking this out, drop what you’re doing and get your headphones in. 30-years on from when this mad journey started and they still know how to engage their fans with albums like Post Self
, but it’s here where hell unleashes itself.
FORMATS//EDITIONS: D̶I̶G̶I̶T̶A̶L̶/̶/̶C̶D̶/̶/̶V̶I̶N̶Y̶L̶/̶/̶ 2-CD (REMASTERED)
PACKAGING: 10-Panel Digi-pak with descriptions on each panel explaining the album's creation.
SPECIAL EDITION: The second disc contains various mixes of tracks, as well as live versions, but the key selling point for the remaster is its exceptional mixing and mastering overhaul which makes the album sound that little bit more punishing.
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: https://godfleshband.bandcamp.com/album/streetcleaner