Godflesh – A World Lit Only By Fire



God help us. Let’s groove.

Review by Gary Cordwell

Avalanche Recordings

Release date: 6 October 2014

The title says it all. A world destroyed, laid waste by global terrorism and flesh eating viruses – time to get back to basics and begin again. It’s been 13 years since their last album but Justin Broadrick has something to say – the world is again fucked up enough for a new Godflesh album!

Justin Broadrick and G.C.Green pick their moments, lying in wait – this is only their 8th album in 26 years! The scorched earth theme is again picked up on the lead track, ‘New Dark Ages’ – “don’t look back” roars Broadrick at one point amidst the onslaught. This is 21st Century Godflesh, concise and precise, the production is perfect, crystal clear… even the distortion sounds machine tooled and pristine! The bass in particular sounds frighteningly immense, it’s an enveloping sound, almost warm despite the ferocious, mechanical momentum.

Songs progress at a steady, Sabbath pace, brushing aside anything in their path like some pissed off, pain maddened behemoth! It is aurally stunning, a biomechanical steampunk aberration. It quickly becomes clear that this album has its own monolithic groove… although I dare you to try and dance to it! The howling vocals struggle to be heard amidst the dehumanizing roar, the sound of humanity being suffocated by the machinery of day to day life.

Several songs are vaguely redolent of early Killing Joke and Jaz Coleman’s mad preacher warnings. Songs hammer forward, disregarding any verse/chorus niceties, they just exist. Immoveable. Broadrick played most of the album on an 8 string guitar and, boy, can you hear it! The huge, downtuned, rumbling riffs create an atmosphere of menace and foreboding and leave your ears vibrating.

‘Obeyed’ has an awkward, uncomfortable riff that puts you on the back foot before it kicks into an incredible groove while Broadrick growls what could almost be Situationist slogans – “you will never make a difference” – in the background. ‘Curse Us All’ is Ministry-esque, a relentless, almost military riff with a YMCA “we want you” drumbeat! ‘Carrion’ is again almost groovy until the impossible happens – the heaviness kicks up several notches! The song ends on minute after minute of utterly relentless one note pounding, like some huge, punishing factory machine. From here on in the album gets increasingly mechanical – human flaws and touches disappear and pounding gives way to chugging which in turn gives way to bludgeoning and crashing, humanity slipping away.

Final track ‘Forgive Our Fathers’ is very ugly indeed, an industrial gothic, smog shrouded edifice of Gormenghast proportions. It’s very cinematic, although whatever was going on onscreen while this played in the background would have to be watched through your fingers, if at all. As the maelstrom fades, forgiveness goes out the window as Broadrick urges us to “kill our fathers”. Unforgiving… that sums up the album perfectly. This could almost be one single, ebbing and flowing piece of music. The songs bleed into each other, music as a thought provoking artistic statement. As pure sound it is as political and meaningful as Hendrix’s ‘Star Spangled Banner’ – an audio Goya painting.

It is a time of faceless beaurocracy and identikit political parties. Beheadings filmed on smartphones and celebrity sex offenders. Towns and cultures are wiped out by geeks in Washington sitting in front of satellite images. People are dislocated and fractured from each other by “social” media – we interact via screens (don’t deny it, you’re doing it now). Ladies and gentlemen, it’s 2014 and Justin Broadrick has served us the album we deserve. God help us. Let’s groove.

Godflesh – A World Lit Only By Fire9 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. New Dark Ages
  2. Deadend
  3. Shut Me Down
  4. Life Giver Life Taker
  5. Obeyed
  6. Curse Us All
  7. Carrion
  8. Imperator
  9. Towers Of Emptiness
  10. Forgive Our Fathers