Album: Decline & Fall EP
Record Label: Avalanche Recordings
Release Date: 2/6/2014
One of Metal's most influential bands mark their return with 4 tracks of glorious sonic abuse
The Heavens have opened and the Gods of all things rhythmic, dark and hostile have returned to Earth! Throw aside your Fear Factory LPs and grab a sledgehammer, for Birmingham's secondary sons of mechanical, systematic and grey fear-mongering have returned!
Hyperbole aside (sort of), the return of Justin Broadrick and G.C. Green's incredibly seminal band Godflesh is, for a Metal head, one of the most favourable pieces of music news transmitted so far this year. People well versed in Broadrick's dealings know that he's a maverick of several music spheres and sounds, but the influence and power that Godflesh instilled in Modern metal throughout the '90s cannot be understated.
'Decline & Fall', the band's first new material since they disbanded in 2002 (and subsequently reformed in 2010) is not only exciting; it's an opportunity that younger Metal heads should revel in. Like many indoctrinated into the ways of Metal in their young teens, bands like Korn, Slipknot and Deftones were a right of passage for me. It wasn't until years later that I realised that those bands, as well as a plethora of industrially minded groups and Black and Post-Metal bands, took more than first meets the ears from the blueprint laid down by Broadrick and Green. This new EP (as well as the new full-length, 'An Autumn Lit By Fire' to be released shortly) is so classic Godflesh that it could, and should, serve as a standard bearer for the precedent for all the slightly uninitiated people that haven't dug quite deep enough yet to find the worthiness of 'Streetcleaner'.
There's none of the sprawling, airily bleak soundscapes that also perpetuated Godflesh's catalogue as well as that of Jesu (Broadrick's second most renowned project). The 4 tracks on 'Decline & Fall' are all inarguably bangers of the most uncompromising persuasion. 'Ringer' kicks things off in rigidly fine fettle. Brutal, repetitive and pounding, Green's bass ruptures your brain encapsulation into submission. Broadrick's riff is indebted with enough sludge and groove to level tower blocks. This is industrial urban repugnance, laying waste to its own backbone with head-bobbing precision.
'Dogbite' is shorter and more melody centred. Green's bass is as virile and cocksure in its pulverising heft, but Broadrick's riff rises above in shimmering but unnerving style betwixt more descents into more swampy furrows.
The most "Fuck me! They're back!" moment comes 3 tracks in, courtesy of the monolithic 'Playing With Fire'. It's ludicrously rhythmic in the way that everything meshes into a destructive, looping whole. "It's all pain... There's no gain" barks Broadrick over surely one of the finest riffs to his name. Amongst his slightly dissonant, echo heavy vocal effects its possible to discern dark ruminations of "tainted feelings" and "invisible chains".
They deal one final bout of decimation with the closing title track, which is one of the more multi-faceted tracks here, manoeuvring seamlessly between cathartically violent riffing, screeching noise and the heavy-handed synthetic drumming that is dealt with steamroller-esque force throughout the EP.
'Decline & Fall' is, in some ways, the ideal way for Godflesh to mark their return to the public conscience. It's only 4 tracks long and thus doesn't contain a great deal of their titanic scope, leaving plenty to be had from 'An Autumn Lit By Fire' when it's released. At the same time, these are 4 tracks of glorious sonic abuse that should make both old fans and newcomers spit out their morning coffee across their sitting room amidst feelings of joy, horror and relief. Essentially, it can ONLY be a good thing that Godflesh are back; still destructive, still artful, and still sounding not quite like anyone else.
Key Tracks: All of it
For Fans Of: Godflesh, Anaal Nathrakh, early Korn