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Godflesh - Post Self (Album Review)

Thursday, 23 November 2017 Written by Alec Chillingworth

In the post-truth era, it’d be quite comforting to receive a Godflesh-by-numbers album. Some crushing, ear-splaying industrial metal, opium of the people, wheel out the hits, yes please.

But Godflesh don’t play the game. They’ve never played the game. Even when releasing their inevitable comeback record in 2014, ‘A World Lit Only By Fire’, they refused to bow to nostalgia. The LP was a gruelling, intensely physical upheaval of the band’s early roots that went for the throat.

So with album eight, ‘Post Self’, the Birmingham two-piece continue to do what they do best: defy expectations. They lure us in before pulling the rug from under us to reveal a bed of nails.

The first three tracks are the rug. The comfy, safe, really, really heavy industrial metal rug. Justin Broadrick’s distorted screams open the album on the title track, running atop equally weighty riffs that 99.9% of bands would see fit to frame as their centrepieces.

But to Godflesh they’re just colour to decorate the blackest of canvases. The instruments pool together as part of a collective whole driven by the gut-churning, relentless rhythm of their unforgiving drum machine.

But, while there is the occasional eyebrow-raiser, such as Parasite’s primal hip hop shuffle, it’s nothing Godflesh haven’t done before. Once you get past No Body’s soaking beats and pneumatic riffing, though, there’s no going back. We’re really in the shit now.

What makes up the remainder of ‘Post Self’ couldn’t really be described as metal. It’s just heavy. Crushingly so. G.C Green’s bass greases the attack, bludgeoning through the sludgy, stuttering Be God and Mirror of Finite Light’s arcane beat.

The album is a trek, peaking with a one-two smack around the face in Pre Self and Mortality Sorrow. The former is a horrifying, spacious post-punk landscape, encompassing the levels of grief and sonic despair investigated by early Swans. The latter pits old-school electronics against Green’s thunderous bass, breathing new life into something old rather than rehashing it like so many chancers jumping on the back of Stranger Things’ success.

The Infinite End plays us out and releases the stranglehold, its eerie synths ending with a question mark rather than a full-stop. Godflesh aren’t here for the nostalgia, for the feel-good hits. They’re here to make challenging music like they always have done. They could’ve just retreated to the safety of their 1989 debut ‘Streetcleaner’ and been done with it. Instead, they’ve pushed themselves arguably further than ever before. They have reached post-Godflesh. So where to next?





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