Review Summary: An introspective return that relishes in past glories over moving forward
2017’s Post Self
was a blinding achievement that came out of nowhere. The record was a vast, experimental peregrination that was far less immediate than previous offerings but thrice as rewarding, largely drawing from the atmospheric dirge of Broadrick’s side-project, Jesu. The album set the stage with a brace of traditional, fan-pleasing Godflesh tunes, exactly how you’d imagine them to be, and in check with what A World Lit Only by Fire
had left behind, but then the record took a hard, electronic-heavy turn into ethereal explorations with a ‘Flesh-y filter over it. All-in-all, it was a genuine surprise after A World Lit Only by Fire
’s very solid but by-the-numbers entry. Fast-forward to present day and Godflesh have dropped Purge
; a record that disregards almost all of its predecessor’s triumphant accolades. Purge
is ostensibly a spiritual successor of sorts to 1992’s seminal experimental-post-metal powerhouse, Pure
. Basing its foundation on Pure
’s bouncy, mechanical hip-hop grooves and the band’s bread and butter hypnotic repetition, Purge
sets out to capture the aforementioned album’s aesthetics, with a modern-day technological toolset to draw out a different perspective.
Unfortunately for Purge
, it fails to live up to its promises. On the whole, the album isn’t a bad one by any stretch, but it lacks the distinguishing features that make previous works stand out. I’ll be honest, I was bracing myself for pacing and structure more akin to Post Self
– since it was such a successful formula last time – in that it decimates the listener with a few grinding hard-hitters, before transcending the listener’s mangled body parts onto an ethereal plane of highly engaging vistas, filled with lamentations and grotesque beauty. There’s nothing wrong with boycotting the winning template Post Self
laid out, of course, and not having my expectations met is equally okay. The problem however, is that Purge
never seems to get off the ground and past those quintessential Godflesh tropes. The band was built on intentionally utilising repetitious loops and this album is no exception, but unlike previous entries that make a concerted effort to give each song its own identity, Purge
’s tracklisting for the most part amalgamates into one big nihilistic blur. I will admit, the first half of the record sets off strong in terms of groove, but by the midway-to-end point of the album, it becomes drone in all the wrong ways.
It's hard to deny “Army of Non” of its glorious syncopation and head-bobbing grooves, as well as the bizarre juxtaposition of furtive “ch-check it out” hip-hop samples nestled underneath. I can’t pre-empt my love for “Land Lord” and “Permission” for their nineties’ techno flavour, as well as “Lazarus Leper”’s drawling and unsettling dissonant guitar passages. Hell, I can’t even lie and say I don’t adore the despondent bleakness of “The Father” and the guttural brutality of “Mythology of Self”. Each track has a lot of exceptional ideas entrenched at the heart of them, but their overall lack of urgency for shaking up core ideas makes them feel like they’re overstaying their welcome after a few minutes – which is obviously exacerbating the issue the longer the tracks go on for. As a collective, this makes the tracks lack distinction somehow and the pacing suffers for it, detracting attention away from what the album does so well. Like A World Lit Only by Fire
, it’s a solid album, but I can’t see myself going back to it as often as their bigger hitters like Post Self
. At the end of the day, Purge
is Godflesh doing Godflesh and doing a good job at it, but as far as how it stacks up against the rest of their discography, it’s far from a high point.