Birmingham’s finest noise mongers are back! Godflesh have returned with their first new material for 13 years (excluding the flexi on the cover of Decibel magazine in the states that contained a cover version of the Slaughter song “Fuck of Death”). “Decline And Fall “ is a four song EP that will see the light of day on June 2nd through Broadrick’s own Avalanche records. More exciting is the new that this is a precursor to a full length LP “A World Lit Only By Fire” due this Autumn.
The first thing that strikes me is that the cover art is most reminiscent of “Cold World”, all grey scenes and white text. A sign of things to come? Justin K Broadrick has, since Godflesh last released material, spent much time exploring more restrained and fragile territories with Jesu and Pale Sketcher. However, in more recent years there have been signs of a dormant volcano preparing to return to life, with harsh releases from Grey Machine, The Blood of Heroes and JK Flesh to name but a few that have unleashed Broadrick’s angrier side. It seems that the tine is indeed right for a full Godflesh return.
Ringer kicks things off in raw style at a steady stubborn pace and with an unforgiving guitar assault. Vocals are almost lost in the mix as they drift in an ethereal fashion in contrast to the aggressive elements to the song. It is a punishing start to the EP at six and a half minutes duration with little in the way of respite. Business as usual for Godflesh!
Dogbite has more of a swagger, with an almost funky bass line accompanied by alternating harmonic and brutal guitar passages and vicious vocal barks.
Next is Playing with Fire, slower in tempo but still with somewhat of a groove to it. It stomps relentlessly forward, before double kick drum action jackhammers the track home hard. Again trademark jarring guitars and barked statements remind you that YES you ARE listening to new Godlfesh material!
The EP closes with title track Decline and Fall which is perhaps the most brutal track here, though admittedly it is a tough call. It initially has more of a stuttering rhythm which makes for a less comfortable listen, having a heavier feel with denser more metallic riffs and grindcore vocals that give way to a sludgy down tuned almost punky chord progression.
These four tracks should please any long term Godflesh listener and certainly shows how industrial metal and grind should sound. The EP is raw and heavy, perhaps more akin to the Godflesh and Cold World albums than Selfless or Us and Them which perhaps have a slightly more polished sheen. The EP doesn’t identify any great change in direction or add any significant new elements to the Godflesh equation, which will be fine by many. This reviewer on the other hand will be keenly waiting for the album in the hope that there will be a few surprises within that reflect the diversity of projects that Justin has been involved with over the intervening years. I will be thrilled with an album that follows the path that this EP has laid, but even more thrilled if there are a few unexpected moments in there too.