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Godflesh – Decline and Fall

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Godflesh - Decline and FallSo I defrosted my fridge yesterday. Inches thick in ice, it was. Had to take a hairdryer to it in the end. Scalding hot air. Huge expanses of frozen water. A lot of wrenching, smashing and cries of frustration. All in all, it was a lot like the new Godflesh EP.

Decline And Fall is the first new material from the reactivated Godflesh project in thirteen years, and right from the start, “Ringer” sees Broadrick and Green going back to their roots in chuggy minimalist brutalism. The drum machine’s back, and it restores to Godflesh that sense of cybernetic onslaught that their last release, Hymns, was missing. When they’re on it, as they are here, it’s impossible to mistake them for anyone else, even given the huge amount of bands influenced by them and who have tried to replicate the formula.

Once again the drums are like an ever-so-slightly-funky robot laying waste to all around it merely by absent-mindedly stomping on stuff, while the guitar and bass onslaught takes any survivors out into the town square and shoots them in the face. Melodies don’t really enter the picture until the second track, “Dogbite,” where Broadrick’s guitar chucks out a cheeky little riff that sounds not entirely unlike something Steve Albini might do in his angrier moments, all chime and grind, metal Wolverine claws scraping down sheet metal. Like all the best Godflesh stuff, it’s somewhat akin to being trapped in a furnace or an immense steam engine. Like Michael Gira said all those years ago, “the heat hurts” — but it’s a transcendent kind of pain, like achieving enlightenment through trepanning or ingesting drugs through the face via a knuckleduster.

“Playing With Fire” is another instant Godflesh classic, Broadrick shouting “THERE’S NO GAIN, IT’S ALL PAIN” like the stompy robot’s become the most evil aerobics instructor to ever prancercise upon the Earth. And it’s up against some stiff fuckin’ competition there, or so I have been led to believe by a diet of ’80s movies. Things loosen up on the title track — although by “loosen up” I mean “the ever-so-slightly-funky robot gets ever-so-slightly-funkier” — hi-hats going off all over the place like fireworks or machine guns and with a proper moshy bit in the middle for the guitar to burst into flames over. Like Kevin Martin‘s King Midas Sound dub outfit, it’s not so much music that you dance to, it’s music that physically grabs you and moves your body.

There aren’t too many surprises here, really, which is no bad thing given that what we all hoped and expected for was pretty damn epic in itself; but now they’ve proved they can still do what they always used to do so well, it’ll be fascinating to learn where Godflesh take it next.

In short, it’s much better than defrosting a fridge. But that sounds a bit like damning with faint praise, so I’ll be lazy and say it’s fucking awesome.

-Justin Farrington-

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