Godflesh - Decline & Fall EP

by Miz DeShannon Rating:7 Release Date:2014-06-24

Earplugs ready for Godflesh's first release in some years, since the reformation of the band (duo) bringing Justin Broadrick and Godflesh originator GC Green back together. With 'Ringer' opening the EP, hammer-like bass is matched with a swerving, droning Killing Joke-style vocal. This reflects past connections for the band, and makes the EP less guttural than it could have been. 

Godflesh's music isn't just your usual chug-chug thrashing metal. The bass is so low and so heavy, it's just a background rattle if you don't have the right system to listen to it on, genuinely sounding like tons of heavy steel clanging about when you do, echoing those roots of Brummie rock such as everyone's much-loved Sabbath. 

However, in a lot of places, Decline & Fall has an experimental mix, including dance music tempos, as on 'Dogbite', where the drum machine substantiates an experimental electro aspect.  There are and always have been lots of different elements to Justin Broadrick's work – intelligent, thoughtful metal drawing influence from electronic and ambient music, sprinkled with cryptic and bleak themes of schizophrenia and martyrdom, of course.

There's still the industrial growl, along with huge sections of menacing vocals and grinding guitar - the elements Godflesh have become so renowned and admired for. That's definitely not lost; Decline & Fall is said by Broadrick to be deliberately like early Godflesh material, back to their roots with discordant guitars and droning style. 

The tune of the release for me isn't it's title track, but 'Playing With Fire', filled with that obsessive, diving bass typically found in industrial metal. With stoned, reverbed vocals, it's catchy, if you could ever call this kind of music catchy. But for those into metal full of 'death grunt' sounds, 'Decline and Fall' is the one. Repetitive and intense, it's at the heavier end of their catalogue and absolutely following their Streetcleaner days.

Having seen them live, they can throw out quite different shows – I got a curve-ball in Barcelona when the show was leaning towards Jesu with a focus on huge stage visuals of black and white apocalyptic scenes and war films rather than an audible earth-shattering scourge. But it was never without the rib-rattling bass. Recently, their live shows have been utterly teeth-grinding, your lungs barely able to move to breathe in the pressure of the bass and vibrations in your every organ. Taking a psych fan to see Godflesh and them finding it appealing was a feat, proving the musicianship in Broadrick's material. 

It's not just a wall of noise. It's loud, really really loud, but it's good.

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