Posted in Reviews on June 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
One of the most challenging factors in listening to Decline and Fall objectively, or even attempting to do so, is in separating the reality of the four songs included from the fact that it’s Godflesh. Not just Godlesh, but newGodflesh, and the first new Godflesh since 2001′s swansong full-length, Hymns. Among bands both in the heavy underground and the wider sphere of metal, there have been few acts who’ve had the kind of influence Godflesh have within that 13-year span. To name three others in varied styles: Opeth, Neurosis, Meshuggah. That’s the caliber of contribution, and some 25 years on from their landmark 1989 debut, Streetcleaner, Godflesh hold firm to the core of what made their approach so singular and so heavy to begin with — the industrial churn and aggressive sensibility. Founding guitarist/vocalist/programmer Justin K. Broadrick has cemented a legacy via his work in the more melodic, ambient Jesu, who arrived in 2004 named for the final Godflesh song on Hymnswith a style that seemed bent on exploring the open spaces that Godflesh turned claustrophobic, but there’s no question Godflesh has endured a relevance beyond their original tenure and one that continues to flourish in an industrial revival today. So how on earth does one listen to the Decline and FallEP (out through Broadrick‘s own Avalanche Recordings) and separate these tracks from the massive influence that Broadrick and founding bassist G.C. Green have had on the heaviness that has followed in their lumbering wake?
Beats the hell out of me.
Since Broadrick and Green began playing shows again, the discussion inevitably turned to new material resulting from the reunion. The reality of Godflesh circa 2014 probably isn’t so far disengaged from what the reality of Godflesh circa 2003 or 2004 might’ve been. In a way, the four included pieces, “Ringer,” “Dogbite,” “Playing with Fire” and “Decline and Fall” are almost too easy to read as Godflesh picking up where they left off. Breaking cleanly into two vinyl sides with a more melodic track — “Ringer” and “Playing with Fire” — and a harsher one — “Dogbite” and “Decline and Fall” — on each as typified by Broadrick‘s vocal approach, Decline and Fallneatly answers some of the progressiveness Hymnspresented and Broadrick went on to refine with Jesu, most notably the more open feel and steady use of melody, but it also seems to have come from an alternate reality in which that refining process hasn’t already played out in the way it has. That is to say, Decline and Fall is Godflesh. It sounds like Godflesh from the static noise that opens “Ringer” to the double-timed beats that cap “Decline and Fall” and with every chugging riff in between. Circumstantially — not sonically — it’s not unlike Floor‘s recent release of their first post-reunion album, Oblation, which arrived after several years of playing shows and found a guitarist returning to the band in which he cut his teeth after continuing the creative evolution with another act. Broadrick‘s success with Jesu little informs the songs on Decline and Fall, and while that project has its distinct appeal, keeping them separate unquestionably works to the favor of both. What the EP winds up feeling like is the result of someone trying on an old outfit and finding out it still fits, but with songwriting. Over a decade later, it wasn’t clear what Godflesh would be or how much the intervening years and experiences would play into the songs. It turns out that what makes Godflesh Godflesh has remained intact.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 5th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
Here’s a way to start the week. Touring in support of a recent The End Records deluxe edition of their final album — 2001′s Hymns — reunited British industrial metal legends Godflesh have announced their first round of US tour dates in more than a decade. The tour kicks off Oct. 18 in Philly and hits major markets thereafter. No word as yet on a new Godflesh studio outing, but Justin Broadrick has a Spotify playlist you can link to in the PR wire info below:
GODFLESH ANNOUNCE US FALL TOUR
AMERICAN SHARKS & PRURIENT TO OPEN @ IRVING PLAZA
HYMNS DELUXE IN CD AND GATEFOLD VINYL OUT NOW ON THE END RECORDS
The time has finally come: Godflesh will be touring the USA this coming October hitting all key national markets along the way.
In celebration of this upcoming tour, Justin Broadrick has created a special Spotify playlist of songs that have influenced and inspired him over the years.
GODFLESH TOUR DATES 10/18/13 – Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts 10/19/13 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza 10/20/13 – Boston, MA – Royale 10/22/13 – Chicago, IL – Metro 10/24/13 – Seattle, WA – Neumo’s 10/25/13 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre 10/26/13 – Oakland, CA – Oakland Metro Opera House 10/27/13 – Los Angeles, CA – The Fonda Theatre 10/29/13 – Austin, TX – Mohawk
Newly signed to The End Records, stoner punk rockers American Sharks to open at Irving Plaza in NYC along with influential noise musician Prurient.
Godfelsh is classic, ballsy, catchy, and mean. Justin Broadrick (the band’s frontman, leader of the band Jesu, and ex member of Napalm Death) manages to craft catchy riffs and choruses into the mix without losing a drop of originality. Often called their finest album, “Hymns” was released on 2001, and has now been re-issued by The End Records as a Special Edition 2CD Deluxe Remaster with Bonus Tracks, Liner Notes, Lyrics and Never Before Seen Photos and Images. Always a few steps ahead of the pack, Godflesh have once again reinvented themselves, providing their audience with a challenging and inspirational slab of crushing industrial metal.
Posted in Features on April 20th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
04.21.13 — 00.25 — Sunday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg
Before Black Magician went on at Het Patronaat to start off day three of Roadburn 2013 and the final day of the fest proper (the ceremonial Afterburner is tomorrow with two stages instead of four-plus), there was a showingof Costin Chioreanu‘s animated short film, Outside the Great Circle, which made its premiere earlier this weekend. The Romanian guitarist has played with a ton of bands and did the soundtrack for the film as well with help from Attila Csihar, whose vocals were immediately recognizable, and a host of others. Pretty heavy on the visual metaphors and there were a couple points where the digital animation style seemed awkward, but apparently it was Chioreanu‘s first time out as an animator, so I’m not about to rip on the effort.
If nothing else, it made the wait for Black Magician significantly less grueling than the one for Dread Sovereign was yesterday, though sleeping later also eased some of that burden. In any case, I was there in plenty of time to catch Black Magician‘s set, which followed in post-Cathedral suit with some of what Witchsorrow got up to last evening and had me once again thinking about what it is that makes British doom British and American doom American. One of these days I’m going to sit down with a piece of posterboard and a list of bands — Trouble and Death Row here, Cathedral and Pagan Altar there — and get it figured out. In any case, the Liverpudlian fivesome belted out weighted riffs and trudging nod, earning the support of both the UK contingent in the crowd, which was sizable, and the rest.
Their 2012 debut, Nature is the Devil’s Church, which I was hoping to buy but will have to pick up next week in London, was well represented, and frontman Liam Yates underscored the classic influences while prevalent organ — Matt Ford played on the album, presumably it was also him live — complemented Kyle Nesbitt‘s guitar and offered a distinguishing factor for the band. Yates is a charismatic presence up front. As they took the stage, he announced in no uncertain terms, “We are Black Magician and we play doom metal,” in the we-are-we-play Motörhead tradition, and before a new song which he dedicated to, “all you Catholics out there,” he announced that Black Magician‘s next release would be on Svart Records, so I guess congratulations are also in order, both to the band and to Shaman Recordings in getting their name out.
No shocker, they lived up to the “We play doom metal” promise, and though Nesbitt seemed less comfortable in the extended solo that started their final song, the extended “Chattox” that also closes the record, than he did while riffing out, they still came out of that long intro and crashed into the slowly unfolding verse unscathed. Over at the Main Stage of the 013, French post-black metal trailblazers Alcest were getting ready to go on. Fronted by 2013 artist-in-residence Neige, they also played in 2011 (review here), and put up a much, much better performance than I recall the last one being. Part of it has to be the fact that their 2012 third full-length, Les Voyages de l’Âme (review here), was superb — I mean that — and gave Neige a little more space to change things up, adding screams on “Là Où Naissent les Couleurs Nouvelles” while also generally sounding like a stronger singer as well.
Backing him was the same second guitarist/vocalist who had been with Les Discrets alongside Fursy Teyssier while Neige played bass, and here as with the other act, he also added a lot to the lush melodies. Drummer Winterhalter set up on the side of the stage and had a laptop open for the synth parts and other ambient whathaveyous — it was, I believe, the first laptop I’ve seen all weekend — and it was put to good use on “Beings of Light” from Les Voyagesand its memorable bookends, opener “Autre Temps” and closer “Summer’s Glory.” Perhaps most impressive of all, Alcest managed both to capture the serene melodic wash of their studio output and still give an engaging live show, striking a difficult balance and providing a sound follow-up/answer-back to Les Discrets‘ set at Het Patronaat. They were an unexpected highlight of the day.
While they played, Camera were getting ready to go on over in the Green Room. I only watched a couple minutes through the door, and though they had a laptop, they put it to much different use, setting a space-jammy tone and fleshing it out via personal computing. I’d get my fix of cosmic improv later with The Cosmic Dead and Endless Boogie, so I jive-turkeyed my way into Stage01 for the first time of the whole fest, managing to get in just after Raketkanon finished in order to see Texas fuzzers Wo Fat. Of everything that Roadburn 2013 has had to offer over the last three days, the balls-out stoner rock contingent has been relatively quiet (though I hear good things about Candybar Planet) in favor of doom, heavy psych, black metal and that specific kind of “other” that has become Roadburn‘s bread and butter these last few years, so I knew there was going to be a good crowd for Wo Fat, who rose to the challenge and dug right into the dirt with the title-track of last year’s excellent fourth album, The Black Code(review here), well representing their home state, American heavy rock, and well-spirited riffage. I can’t speak for everyone, but for my tired ass, they were an existential tonic. A pick-me-up like the espresso I’d soon grab from the machine in the merch area.
The three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Kent Stump, bassist Tim Wilson and drummer/backing vocalist Michael Walter didn’t exactly shy away from jamming on The Black Code, and their set followed a similar ethic, Stump taking extended solos while Wilson absolutely nailed the grooves underlying and Walter held all the pieces together. They were glad to be there, everyone seemed to be glad they were there — it was awesome. I immediately had “The Black Code” stuck in my head and figured that if I had to spend the rest of the night with that groove on mental jukebox perma-repeat, I had no problem with that. “Descent into the Maelstrom” from 2011′s Noche del Chupacabrawas preceded by “Hurt at Gone,” which featured a few highlight leads, and they rounded out with the last two tracks from the latest LP, “The Shard of Leng” and “Sleep of the Black Lotus,” which meant they played the whole record, just not in order, plus “Descent into the Maelstrom” and “Enter the Riffian,” from 2009′s Psychedelonaut. This being their first European tour, and first real tour in general unless they went to Japan without telling anybody, I wouldn’t be surprised if they come out of it a much tighter, different band than they came into it. Clearly they were relishing every second of the Roadburn experience.
And while I watched them, so was I. I felt refreshed on my way to see Victor Griffin’s In~Graved in the Green Room, making sure to get there in plenty of time to get up front. Griffin, of course, is American doom nobility as much as anyone can be, with a pedigree that traces back through Place of Skulls to Pentagram to Death Row, but as he’s joined in In~Graved by bassist Guy Pinhas (Goatsnake, The Obsessed, etc.), keyboardist Jeff “Oly” Olson (former Trouble drummer) and drummer “Minnesota” Pete Campbell (Sixty Watt Shaman and Place of Skulls, among others), it’s something of a supergroup. Their recently-released self-titled debut (review here) for sure is Griffin doing what he does best, singing and playing guitar with his unmistakable tone and professing his faith in song. He was in his element at Roadburn 2013, and said it was good to be back. I saw him here in 2010 with a Death Row reunion and again in 2011 with Pentagram, and he’s got his thing and it works well for him. He led In~Graved in such a manner as to be fitting of having his name in front.
“Digital Critic,” which also started the record, opened. My issues with the subject matter notwithstanding (because if anyone needs a good shitting on, it’s bloggers; actually, if the song was about poor syntax and needless hyperbole, I’d be down with it), they were tight, and “What If” followed, immediately establishing the dynamic of the band, with Olson‘s keys playing a major role in enriching the melodies and underscoring the grooves of Griffin‘s riffs. It seemed to me that’s where the real potential for In~Graved lies. Here Victor Griffin has this awesome band that’s out on tour. Pinhas on bass is a rhythm section unto himself, and he and Campbell were locked in from the first note, so what I’m left wondering about In~Graved is what happens next? Where do they go from here? Is it a real band or a Griffin project with a revolving door membership? Seems to me that this lineup could yield some fantastic material if they wrote together. I don’t know how feasible that is — last I heard, Pinhas lived in California, and everyone involved seems to have plenty going on besides, so scheduling could be a nightmare — but they had potential to be a real band and not just a touring lineup. We live in a universe of infinite possibility. Maybe it’ll happen, maybe they’ll do this European tour and never speak again. Who knows.
High on Fire delivered their second set of the weekend on the Main Stage. Thursday night’s headlining slot was Art of Self Defense-only, so this one replied with selections from the rest of the trio’s catalog, launching with the rush of De Vermis Mysteriisopener “Serums of Laio” and weaving a vicious blood trail through material from Surrounded by Thieveson, cuts like “Devilution,” “Frost Hammer” (Jeff Matz joining Matt Pike on vocals), “Rumors of War,” “Madness of an Architect” and “Eyes and Teeth” melding together in a career-spanning sampler that may have been missing the first album’s highlights, but in the context of the other spot still made sense. It hadn’t been that long since I had seen them do most of this material, late last year in Philly, but they never disappoint live and this was no exception. Who could complain about two High on Fire sets in one weekend? Not me, not this weekend, though I knew with Elder still to come there was much more of the day to be had, and so I took a quick break for dinner — fish, rice, salad — and to pick up some Cosmic Dead tapes from the merch area. More espresso was the right choice as well.
I sat outside Het Patronaat for a few minutes to get caught up on my notes and drink said coffee in the fresh air — actually it kind of smelled like old potatoes, but that’s still fresher than inside — but wound up going in to see a bit of UK black metal progressives A Forest of Stars, who wound up being probably the most elaborate act of the whole fest, between the double-guitars, violin, flute, keys, extra percussion, ebow, multiple vocalists, shirts and ties, and so on. It was a far cry from High on Fire, to be sure, as screamer Dan Eyre stood almost perfectly still to seethe when he had a break as the band around him continued their well-received onslaught. The people there knew who they were — Roadburn‘s a pretty hip crowd anyway — but I didn’t, so for just being something different, it was exciting even though what they were doing, black metal tinged with psych and folk influences, isn’t really where my head is at. Very atmospheric, very complex, very intense, mixing clean vocals and screams and everything else. I can’t imagine getting seven people to agree on anything, let alone be in a band, so kudos are in order.
The reason I was there, though, was for Elder, who played next. What a fucking blast. Seriously. That’s what it says in my notes: “What a fucking blast.” It’s a direct quote. Probably the best thing I can compare it to is when Black Pyramid played the Afterburner in 2011 and were given such a warm reception, but this was bigger, both in room size and in that reception itself. Similar to Goat last night, people were lined up out the door and down the alley to see Elder‘s Roadburn debut, and the crowd was cheering before they even started the first song. They waved and people cheered. It was a lot of fun to see, and as it was the 10th show on their 15-date European run with Pet the Preacher (who played earlier at another club down the way as a kind of annex to the festival), they also handed the place its collective ass. Both cuts from the Spires Burn/ReleaseEP were included, as well as “Dead Roots Stirring” and a host of others, and for the umpteenth time in the last couple days, I felt lucky to be there. I know for a lot of people, this was the first time they’re getting to see them live, but even for the several times I have, this one was something special. I’ve got my train booked to London in time to see them in Camden Town on Monday. Fingers crossed it actually works out.
My thought was to catch Mr. Peter Hayden at Stage01, but didn’t get there in time and so missed it. Drowned my sorrows instead in a few Electric Moon CDs — there are so many! — and ran back to drop them off at the hotel before heading back to the Main Stage for Godflesh. While I’m feeling lucky, I felt lucky to see Godflesh do Streetcleanerfront-to-back two years ago, so I guess I’m twice-over lucky as regards the seminal Justin Broadrick-led outfit for having now seen them do 1992′s sophomore full-length, Pure,as well. If it comes to it, I wouldn’t object if Broadrick and bassist B.C. Green wanted to go year-by-year through the whole catalog and wind up at 2001′s Hymns, but I doubt it will come to that. I had been wondering whatever became of the new record he alluded to when interviewed here for the last Jesu full-length, but nobody seemed to mind a roll through Pure — at least I didn’t hear any groans, “Oh, this again,” and so on — and from the sheer damage that material can inflict, it’s no real wonder why. Apparently one of the byproducts of being so ahead of your time is that later on your output is still vital. Go figure.
Now, I’m not going to claim to be the biggest Godflesh fan in the world. To me, they’re a band I’ve appreciated more in hindsight — hearing their records years after the fact and recognizing the parts that others have ripped off; there’s no shortage — but I don’t honestly think they would’ve worked as anything but the headliner for this final night of Roadburn. The energy and the volume they bring, Broadrick, Green and the drum machine, didn’t really leave room to be built upon. Robert Hampson, who played on Pure and the preceding 1991 Cold World EP following the dissolution of his band Loop that year and who also did a solo set on Thursday, joined them on second guitar, so that the three were spread out across the stage, Broadrick on the right, Green on the left and Hampson in the middle.
It only got louder and more pulsating from there. I made my way over to Stage01 to watch some of Mr. Peter Hayden through the open door — I had really wanted to see them — and even then, the sounds I was getting was a mixture of their heavy-as-hell psych freakout and Godflesh‘s dissatisfied industrial frustrations. Figuring that I was going to want to work my way up anyway for The Cosmic Dead‘s 23.15 start, I started through the crowd as Mr. Peter Hayden did a sort of space rocking baptism rite on the front row that involved a tinfoil-covered hand. Seemed like a great set, and it certainly ended riotous enough, but having missed them, there was no way I was letting The Cosmic Dead go unseen. I got to the front of the stage just in time to see Mr. Peter Hayden sell a DVD to the dude standing next to me for 10 Euro that I’m pretty sure was the visuals that were playing behind them and not, as I’m relatively sure this guy thought it was, a live video of what they’d just played. The day had been long for everyone.
But The Cosmic Dead were something of an arrival for me. You see, I knew this day was going to end jammy and spaced out, and so when I got up front at Stage01, it was the proverbial home stretch. My feet were sore, my back was sore, I smelled like other people’s smoke and the fish I ate for dinner, but dammit, I wanted to see the Scottish band bring their heavy space to life. I didn’t have much time, because New York’s Endless Boogie were going on the Main Stage at 23.50, but I’d get in what I could. This was fine until The Cosmic Dead made it apparent they were running on SRT (“stoner rock time”). They started closer to 23.30, which meant I had all of five minutes before I had to head out and see the last band. In my head, the voice of Lana from Archer made a “womp womp” noise, though what I saw of The Cosmic Dead was right on. The bassist set up facing away from the audience, and they were so densely fogged up from the smoke machine that one almost had to take the sound’s word for it that they were there in the first place, but they made it known that they’re in it for the jams. What little I got to see was a boon.
Earlier in the day, I was asked why I wouldn’t just go see Endless Boogie in New York. They’re from New York and I live in New Jersey, about an hour away. It makes sense. Well, the thing is some of the shows they play in New York are terrible, and I get bummed out at terrible shows. If you’re ever going to see a band live, no matter who they are or what they do, in my experience, there’s no better place to see them than at Roadburn. I’ve seen some awesome shit in my day, and when it came to me and Endless Boogie, I knew that if I was gonna run into their low-end moody improv, this was how I wanted it to happen. Asphyx were playing at Het Patronaat, but I didn’t care. I watched guitarist/vocalist Paul “Top Dollar” Major preach impromptu about whatever the hell he felt like while Endless Boogie smoothed their way into an all-flavor/no-filler groove that I think was loosely based on one of the cuts from this year’s Long Island(review here) but ultimately headed somewhere else.
The same could be said for me. I’d stayed later than the last two nights to at least get a glimpse of The Cosmic Dead and Endless Boogie, but with this ahead of me, I knew my time was limited and that I needed to get back to the hotel and start with the clacky-clacky. Tomorrow is the Afterburner — like Roadburn‘s (relatively) laid back way of transitioning its audience back into real life. There’s always a cool vibe throughout the day and from Sigh and Nihil to Golden Void and Electric Moon, I’m sure tomorrow will be no exception. First though, sleep. I lost track this morning of what day it actually was and started doing work that needed to be in by Monday — and post time after sorting through the 80 pics with this post is 06.30; I have not slept — so maybe I’m a little frayed, but nothing I’ve thus far encountered has made me regret any of this.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 11th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
The final album Godflesh issued before breaking up in 2001, Hymnsmarked the point of transition between the groundbreaking industrial heft of the now-legendary UK outfit’s earlier work and the more inward looking melodic ethereality that Justin Broadrick would bring to light over time with his subsequent project, Jesu. In an interview last year, Broadrick confirmed that Godflesh had new songs in the works, and while those have yet to materialize, it was announced today that Hymnswill be reissued in February and that remixed and remastered demo recordings of Hymnstracks would be included as a bonus disc and incentive for fans.
Being last in the catalog (to date) and well after their mark had been made with albums like 1989′s Streetcleaner, the preceding self-titled debut EP or 1992′s Pure, Hymnsis often overlooked in Godflesh‘s highly populated discography, but definitely worth a revisit, and it should be interesting to hear how its tracks have been reinterpreted by the band more than a decade later.
Details courtesy of the PR wire:
Godflesh To Release Hymns Deluxe Remaster
Available In Deluxe 2CD/2LP Packaging – Remastered With Bonus Tracks, Liner Notes, Lyrics And Never Before Seen Images
Out February 19th On The End Records
Godflesh is classic, ballsy, catchy, and mean. Justin Broadrick (the band’s frontman, and ex member of Napalm Death) manages to craft catchy riffs and choruses into the mix without losing a drop of originality. Even though ”Hymns” is the band’s swan song, it still sounds just as passionate as their first record “Streetcleaner”. Often called their finest album, “Hymns” was released on 2001, and is now being re-issued by The End Records as a Special Edition 2CD Deluxe Remaster with Bonus Tracks, Liner Notes, Lyrics and Never Before Seen Photos and Images. Always a few steps ahead of the pack, Godflesh have once again reinvented themselves, providing their audience with a challenging and inspirational slab of crushing industrial metal.
1. Defeated 2. Deaf, Dumb & Blind 3. Paralyzed 4. Anthem 5. Voidhead 6. Tyrant 7. White Flag 8. For Life 9. Animals 10. Vampires 11. Antihuman 12. Regal 13. Jesu
Disc 2: Bonus Material
1. Voidhead (Demo 2012 Mix) 2. Vampires (Demo 2012 Mix) 3. Deaf, Dumb & Blind (Demo 2012 Remastered) 4. Anthem (Demo 2012 Remastered) 5. Paralyzed (Demo 2012 Remastered) 6. For Life (Demo 2012 Remastered) 7. If I Could Only Be What You Want (2012 Remastered)
Posted in Features on May 6th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
Justin K. Broadrick was 19 years old when his band, Godflesh, released their ultra-seminal full-length, Streetcleaner, in 1989. Born and raised in Birmingham, England, he’d been a founding member of grind pioneers Napalm Death as they got their start, and left to pursue divergent musical interests — which, as anyone who’s ever sat and put Napalm Death and Godflesh side by side knows, he did. Streetcleaner was a new breed of extremity in music, something as emotionally weighted as it was inhumanly heavy, and though in their initial run, Godflesh would be lumped into various genres — industrial, metal, etc. — and would play into those designations at different points of their discography, the fact is that what might be their most pivotal and expressive work existed almost completely outside of classifiable genre in its day, and was all the more powerful for it.
Broadrick began Jesu (the band named for the final track on Godflesh‘s last album) with a limited issue of the Heart Ache EP via UK imprint Dry Run in 2004. Since then, he’s filled much the same role he played in Godflesh as the driving creative force behind the band’s output, overseeing massively well-received full-lengths like 2005′s Jesu and 2007′s Conqueror through Hydra Head while also unleashing a barrage of EPs and splits, among them the highlights Opiate Sun (2009) and 2007′s split with Battle of Mice. The latest Jesu offering follows a 2010 re-release of Heart Ache that coupled it with the previously unreleased Dethroned EP and is called, appropriately enough, Ascension.
Constructed with many of the same kinds of dense harmonic washes as Jesu‘s prior output, Ascension marks its progression in Broadrick‘s increased use of acoustic guitars and offsetting organic and synthesized elements from each other. As someone continually fascinated with pop music, he’s grown over time (and with much practice) into a formidable songwriter, able to keep an experimental feel to songs like “Broken Home” and “Small Wonder” while also playing off classic melodicism and structural foundations. Still, no matter how you choose to categorize his work — and it’s often that an artist will hear nothing in his or her own material beyond their influences — Jesu sounds like nothing else. The more Broadrick‘s creative development plays out over time, the more that remains true.
Having just borne witness to Godflesh‘s landmark Streetcleaner reunion set at Roadburn, it was a pleasure to (after screwing up international dialing for an embarrassing 437th time) ring up Broadrick and discuss some of the differences between Jesu and Godflesh, the self-indulgent nature of art, the possibility of a new Godflesh studio record, playing live with Jesu, how the imperfection is part of the charm, and more. It had been more than half a decade since I’d last interviewed him, but I found him this time to be just as open and honest as I remembered.
Complete 4,500-word Q&A and pics from Roadburn are after the jump. Please enjoy.
Posted in Features on April 14th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster
2:00AM — Thursday night/Friday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg
It’s late now. I did indeed get that much-needed cup of coffee, and it’s probably what let me make it to the end of Godflesh‘s epic set, which was a full hour and a half and featured the whole Streetcleaner album and then some — as promised. I felt in some way like I was missing out on something there, since I was never a hugeGodflesh fan. I certainly appreciate Streetcleaner, but it’s not like I know the words. A lot of people did. Justin Broadrick certainly did. He sang them loudest.
It was just Broadrick and bassist GC Green on stage with a laptop handling drum sounds. Nothing strange there, that’s pretty much the heart of Godflesh anyway: the two players and the technology. They were so loud that I had to move back from the front of the main stage room where I was situated. They vibrated my earplugs in my ears. Very, very loud, if I haven’t made the point yet.
I got back to the 013 shortly before they went on and took my place amongst the hungry hordes in the photo pit. I’m not sure I like that kind of thing. People are pushy and rude and everyone seems to be trying to get in everyone else’s way. There’s a three-song limit for the photographers that was varyingly enforced throughout the day, but I only stayed for two, then went upstairs to get some other shots. I thought after a while I might pop over to the Green Room and catch The Atomic Bitchwax‘s set. They’re Jersey boys, and killer besides, so the choice made sense.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought so, since the Green Room, yet again, was so packed I couldn’t get in the door. I stood in the doorway and caught the end of “So Come On” and some of the riff parade that is their new album, The Local Fuzz, but soon made my way back over to the band merch in the building next door for another look over. I didn’t buy anything (this time), but thought about it once or twice before heading back to the main stage for the feedback-saturated end of Godflesh‘s show.
I found a spot on one of the tiers in the back of the room and stood there for the duration, after previously moving around so much. Part of the appeal, I’ll admit, was that — Broadrick and Green being so loud — the floor where I was literally shook, and I thought of it as kind of being like a foot massage. It was and it wasn’t, I guess. Still a bit of fun, and as the coffee wore off and I started to fall asleep standing up, the additional entertainment went a long way.
Count Raven closed out the night in the Green Room, while Soilent Green prepared to take hold of the main stage, and I managed to catch a bit of the former before deciding to pack it in for my Thursday night. Like I said, with Roadburn, you’re just not going to see everything. Count Raven, it’s worth noting, also packed the Green Room to capacity, and people were singing along, throwing fists, generally enjoying themselves as people seem wont to do at European heavy shows. That hour of sleep had just caught up to me, and if I wouldn’t feel so terrible about making a running analogy given my slovenly ways, I’d say I “hit the wall.”
When I got my photo bag back from the coat-check, I found that I did indeed lose a lens cap for my camera (Go get ‘em, chief. Heck of a first day!). I thought about grabbing some pommes frites, thought about waiting it out to see what the annual Metal Disco party is all about, but decided to do this instead. And now, having done this, I’m going to try and get some rest and be ready to pick it up again tomorrow for SunnO)))‘s curated day. Much to do.
Ditto the last post — more pics after the jump, click to enlarge, and so forth.
A quick reissue roundup for anyone who may have missed these:
Godflesh‘s 1989 über-classic, Streetcleaner, has recently been given a two-disc reissue by Earache Records that may or may not be timed to coincide with the announcement that the band will reunite for next year’s Roadburn festival in The Netherlands. Earache, who are the last of the “metal majors” to habitually send out physical promos of albums to press, have been on a spree for the last year or two in repressing landmarks from their back catalog, and Godflesh has been no exception, as the recipient of several boxed editions and multi-album compilations. Streetcleaner is Streetcleaner, though, so it stands on its own.
With the second disc offering unreleased mixes, live tracks from 1989-1990 and rehearsal and studio demos — all of which may or may not have been heard before — the 2010 Streetcleaner is as biting as ever, and shows why over 20 years later, the band are still a much-wanted commodity. It’s one of those albums that, if you don’t have it, you probably should, so I thought it was worth a look.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the sludgy spectrum, three Crowbar records just got reissued by E1, making them more widely available than ever before thanks to the label’s far-reaching distribution. Crowbar, Live +1 and Time Heals Nothing cover the venerable New Orleans slingers’ work from 1993-1995, and though I’m not sure why E1 would go after the rights to the second album, a live EP and the third album without also reissuing 1991′s Obedience Thru Suffering debut, I’m sure they have their reasons, as they’ve been pretty on the ball since deciding it was okay to like metal again in 2008/2009.
All three discs are bare-bones, and by that I mean no bonus material, but honestly, I’m so desperate as for any Crowbar release at this point I might consider picking these up just for the sake of their being newly issued. With the band allegedly beginning a new period of activity that involved touring last month down south, heading north next month and supposedly even recording a new album, there’s plenty to hope for, and of course, guitarist/vocalist Kirk Windstein has been plenty busy in Kingdom of Sorrow and Down (neither of which is as good as Crowbar), but man, it’s time for some new Crowbar. Today.
Until then, this is as good as it’s going to get, and in the case of Godflesh — who I’m actively hoping won’t release a new album — it may be as good as it’s ever going to get. Sure we can sit here and complain about rehashing the same records over and over, but when you find a better way to spend time than listening to Crowbar again, you let me know.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 24th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster
I know it’s Sunday, but some news just won’t wait for the weekend to end. This from the Roadburn website:
Roadburn is elated to announce that Birmingham’s seminal post-punk/industrial behemoths, Godflesh, will perform their seminal debut full-length album, 1989’s Streetcleaner, in its entirety at the 2011 Roadburn Festival, Thursday, April 14th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland. Not only will founding members Justin Broadrick and Benny Green play Streetcleaner in full and in track order, they will be playing the Tiny Tears EP, which was conceived as part of the overall Streetcleaner vision, in full as well.
At this point, the subgenre’s trend level has crested and most of what the specific style of music has to offer has likely been explored, but although it gets the ol’ eye-roll “not this again” treatment these days, it’s worth remembering that post-metal has produced some great, landmark albums, and that the bands who came after had solid reasoning behind being influenced as they were.
Blending post-rock elements with heavier, often crushing guitar work, the classification post-metal is as amorphous as any genre term. I’ve heard everyone from High on Fire to Ulver referred to under its umbrella, but I want to be clear that when I talk about post-metal, I’m thinking of what’s also commonly called “metalgaze,” the specific branch of metal heavily inspired by the bands below.
I wanted to do this Where to Start post not just for those looking to expose themselves to the genre, but also in case anyone who maybe is tired of hearing bands that sound like this has forgotten how killer these records were. Here’s my starting five essential post-metal albums, ordered by year of release:
1. Godflesh, Godflesh (1988): I saw the album art on hoodies for years before I knew what it was. 1989′s Streetcleaner was better received critically at the time for its industrial leanings, but Justin Broadrick‘s first outing after leaving Napalm Death has grown over time to be the more influential album. At just 30 minutes long in its original form (subsequent reissues would add bonus material), it’s a pivotal moment in understanding modern post-metal that predates most of the genre’s major contributions by over a decade.
2. Neurosis, A Sun That Never Sets (2001): Take a listen to A Sun That Never Sets closer “Stones from the Sky,” then go put on just about any post-metal record, and you’ll see many of them trying to capture the same feel and progression — if not just blatantly transposing that riff onto their own material. Say what you want about Neurosis‘ earlier material, I think if everyone was honest about it, it would be A Sun That Never Sets mentioned even more. An awful lot of the modern wave of post-metal bands formed in 2001 and 2002, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.