Justin Broadrick performing with Godflesh at Wetlands Preserve in New York City on November 11, 1996
|Also known as||Fall of Because (1982–1988)|
|Origin||Birmingham, United Kingdom|
|Genres||Industrial metal, post-metal, experimental metal|
|Years active||1988–2002, 2010–present|
|Labels||Earache, Music for Nations, Koch, Relapse, Columbia/Sony, Swordfish, Combat, Relativity|
|Associated acts||Napalm Death, Jesu, Final|
|Past members||Paul Neville
Godflesh are an industrial metal band from Birmingham, England. They were formed in 1988 by Justin Broadrick (guitar, vocals, and programming) and G.C. Green (bass) and disbanded in 2002. Godflesh's innovative music is widely regarded as a foundational influence on industrial metal and post-metal. Broadrick and Green reformed Godflesh in 2010.
- 1 History
- 2 Collaborators and side projects
- 3 Musical style
- 4 Influence
- 5 Cinematic connections
- 6 Members
- 7 Discography
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
In 1982, Green founded Fall of Because (named after a Killing Joke song) with Paul Neville. Broadrick, who had been playing guitar as a member of Napalm Death, joined the group in mid-1985 as drummer and vocalist. He left the band in 1987. Broadrick then spent a couple of years (1986–1988) as a member of Head of David. In 1988, he contacted Green about reforming Fall of Because. Justin decided to take over on guitars and they chose to use a drum machine to help out. They also decided to change their name to Godflesh.
Career trajectory (1989–2001)
Godflesh established a presence in underground music with albums such as Streetcleaner and Pure, which demonstrated the effectiveness of lo-fi production values in heavy music. A brief flirtation with major label Columbia Records in 1994 for Selfless and the Merciless EP saw the duo take on a more high-end production approach. In 1996 Godflesh released Songs of Love and Hate, which featured the drumming of Bryan Mantia (Guns N' Roses, Primus, Praxis). The next album, Us and Them, released in 1999, saw the group experimenting with a more electronic, drum and bass-oriented sound in which the guitar played a less central role. In 2001 Godflesh released the double album retrospective In All Languages. That same year they released an album of new material, Hymns, which featured the precise drumming of new band member Ted Parsons (formerly of Swans and Prong) and brought the band back to its slow and heavy roots while retaining elements of its experiments with electronica and hip hop.
Green left Godflesh in late 2001. The band announced that Green would be replaced by former Killing Joke and Prong bassist Paul Raven. In the interim, however, Broadrick's thirteen-year relationship with his girlfriend dissolved, and Broadrick suffered a nervous breakdown shortly before departing for a tour of the United States. Broadrick recalls the breakdown as a "real Brian Wilson moment" and said that he "felt paralyzed by the stress, which had been building for several months, and I literally couldn't get out of bed. I was numb and couldn't move, so when the car came to pick me up to take me to the airport, I ran and hid at another friend's house in Birmingham."
The canceled tour caused even more problems for Broadrick. Bus companies had been hired; the groups High on Fire and Halo had been booked to support. And everyone who lost money came after Broadrick. "I was getting death threats from the bus company in L.A.", Broadrick said. "I lost close to $35,000, which I did not have at all. I was broke and had to sell my house and pay off all my debt on credit cards. I pretty much did nothing for four months besides drink heavily." On a poster promoting Jesu's first EP Heart Ache, the caption read as follows "Godflesh is dead, long live Jesu."
Broadrick issued a statement about the end of Godflesh:
- On April 10, 2002, I disbanded Godflesh. This was something I had painfully been pondering since GC Greens' departure from the band in Oct 2001. Regrettably it took until the day of leaving for a lengthy U.S tour for the realization to finally take its toll on me. Unfortunately the finality of the decision and the responsibilities of making the decision proved too much for me to bear, and I collapsed under the weight. I found that without GC Green, Godflesh is not Godflesh, and him leaving proved to be an omen for me. I also feel that everything we originally intended or even imagined with Godflesh we have done. My only regret has been the hurting of both remaining band members Ted Parsons and Paul Raven, and disappointing those that believe in Godflesh worldwide... In the near future, my new rock project Jesu will surface. So this is by no means the end of my songwriting/guitar/vocalizing. Simply the end of a chapter. Endless gratitude to all those that have believed in and supported Godflesh throughout the 14 year history. You know who you are... Long live the new flesh...
Asked in a February 2010 interview about Godflesh's future, Broadrick replied, "Godflesh will not commit to anything but Hellfest currently. I am unsure as to where we will go from there, if we go anywhere at all." He also revealed that the band will not rule out the possibility of new material.
Godflesh played at the 2010 Supersonic Festival in Birmingham, UK on 23 October, co-headlining with Swans. They appeared at the 2011 edition of the Roadburn festival at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland, where they performed their first album, Streetcleaner, in its entirety.
In December 2010, Broadrick told Decibel magazine that the band is slowly putting together ideas for a new studio album. He explained, "It's something we're discussing all the time, and I do have bits and pieces of material. But it's something we'd really like to develop. It'd be quite easy to knock out eight to 10 in-character songs and release it as quickly as possible to capitalize on the popularity of the group, but it would feel entirely wrong. If it's another two years until another Godflesh record, so be it. The most important thing is making a record that stands up with the rest of the back catalogue. I do have this in me again, though."
In April 2012, Broadrick confirmed in the April/May edition of Rock-A-Rolla magazine that a new album is in the works: "We intend to release a new album, most likely in 2013, and to record it in late 2012. Probably an EP will come before the album. We will be taking our time with this album, we are not taking it 'lightly'." Godflesh performed as headliners at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest on May 25, 2012. It was their first North American performance in about 17 years. The new Godflesh album is tentatively titled A World Lit Only by Fire and expected to be released in early 2014. They will also release their first new recording in over 12 years through Decibel magazine's Flexi Series, which will include a cover version of Slaughter's "F.O.D. (Fuck of Death)". The flexi disc will be included in the November 2013 issue of Decibel.
Collaborators and side projects
Several other musicians have recorded and played live with Godflesh. Paul Neville rejoined Broadrick and Green for the Streetcleaner and Slavestate albums. Robert Hampson, former guitarist for Loop, appeared on Pure and Cold World. (In 1991 Loop released the split 7" single Loopflesh covering the Godflesh song "Like Rats" while Godflesh performed Loop's "Straight to Your Heart".)
Members of Godflesh have been involved in numerous side projects, allowing them to explore interests in other musical genres, including electronica, ambient, dub, industrial hip-hop, and digital hardcore. Broadrick has collaborated with Kevin Martin and Alec Empire, among others. Broadrick's other active projects include Jesu and Final.
Drawing influence from power electronics forefathers Whitehouse, noise rock band Swans, ambient music creator Brian Eno and fellow Birmingham heavy metal band Black Sabbath, Godflesh were among the pioneers of industrial metal. Godflesh have also been described as post-metal and experimental metal.
Godflesh is known for their unique mixture of drum machine beats with droning, discordant guitar and powerful, intermittent bass. On their earlier albums, the rhythms, synths, and samples are credited to "Machine" or "Machines". Later, Godflesh made use of human drummers Bryan Mantia and Ted Parsons. Their eerie, slow, and repetitive style is commonly described as "apocalyptic". The Godflesh sound was once described as "Pornography-era Cure on Quaaludes".
Broadrick's vocals are often guttural, making use of something akin to the death grunt technique, yet they also at times show a softer, more melodic side, as in "I Wasn't Born to Follow" from 1992's Pure. Godflesh lyrics are terse, cryptic, and bleak, often emphasizing duality or opposition. Paranoia and martyrdom are also common themes in Godflesh's music and cover art.
Broadrick has also taken inspiration from Leonard Cohen; both artists have albums titled Songs of Love and Hate. In the song "Mothra" (from Pure), Godflesh borrows the lyrics "Your pain is no credential here / It's just the shadow of my wound" from the song "Avalanche" on the aforementioned Cohen album.
Godflesh has been cited as an influence by Korn, Metallica, Danzig, Faith No More, Fear Factory, Converge, Isis, Pitchshifter, and Ministry, among others. Justin Broadrick was asked to join Danzig and Faith No More as a band member full-time, but Broadrick wanted to focus on Godflesh.
The image on the front of 1988's Godflesh is a still from the cult 1966 John Frankenheimer film Seconds. The image on the cover of Streetcleaner is a still from the movie Altered States, a 1980 horror film by director Ken Russell in which the film's protagonist, played by William Hurt, explores other states of consciousness with the aid of hallucinogens and an isolation chamber. Photos from the insert sleeve for the album are taken from David Lynch's Eraserhead (another major influence cited by Broadrick). The cover of Merciless is a still from the 1943 experimental film Meshes of the Afternoon.
Godflesh showed the video for "Crush My Soul" (by Andres Serrano) to Kirk Hammett and he loved it. Metallica later used a piece of footage by Serrano for their cover on the album Load. In a later interview with Hammett, he is asked where the band got the idea of the cover. Hammett tells the interviewer that he saw something on television about Andres Serrano and that is how it came about, not giving any credit to Godflesh. Justin says, "There's no copyright on Serrano. We'll be the first to admit that. But we planted the seed, and unfortunately we're not getting the credit, obviously." Hammett once gave Broadrick a custom Fender Stratocaster after his was stolen on tour, and has commended the band by stating that they are the "heaviest band in existence".
After Earache merged with Sony (Columbia), Godflesh began appearing on soundtracks. In 1995, they appeared on the soundtrack to the movie Hideaway. They also appeared in the movie itself. During one of the club scenes, they are playing onstage in the background, performing the song "Nihil".
- Justin Broadrick – lead vocals, guitars, programming (1988–2002, 2010–present)
- G.C. Green – bass, programming (1988–2001, 2010–present)
- Paul Neville – guitars (1989–1991)
- Robert Hampson – guitars (1991–1992)
- Bryan Mantia – drums, percussion (1994–1996)
- Ted Parsons – drums, percussion (1996–2002)
- Steve Hough – guitars (1999)
- Diarmuid Dalton – samples, moog (1999)
- Paul Raven – bass (2002)
- Streetcleaner (1989)
- Pure (1992)
- Selfless (1994)
- Songs of Love and Hate (1996)
- Us and Them (1999)
- Hymns (2001)
- A World Lit Only by Fire (2014)
- Jon Caramanica, "The alchemy of art-world heavy metal", International Herald Tribune, September 20, 2005.  Access date: July 25, 2008.
- The Rough Guide to Rock. Buckley, Peter. 2003. p. 908. ISBN 1858284570.
- Gardner, Noel (August 21, 2009). "Godflesh - Slavestate, Pure, Cold World Reissues". The Quietus. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- "The Godflesh FAQ". July 31, 2001. Retrieved April 29, 2010.
- Wiederhorn, Jon (2002-05-01). "Godflesh Singer Suffers Breakdown, Breaks Up Band" (JHTML). MTV. Retrieved 2009-10-20.
- "Godflesh Mainman Doesn't Rule Out Possibility Of New Material". Blabbermouth.net. 2010-02-05. Retrieved 2010-02-06.
- "SWANS + GODFLESH HEADLINE SUPERSONIC FESTIVAL 2010".
- "BLABBERMOUTH.NET - GODFLESH To Perform Entire 'Streetcleaner' Album At ROADBURN Festival". Roadrunnerrecords.com. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
- "BLABBERMOUTH.NET - Reunited GODFLESH Working On New Material". Roadrunnerrecords.com. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
- Rock-A-Rolla Issue 37, page 7.
- "BLABBERMOUTH.NET - GODFLESH: First New Recording In Over 12 Years To Be Made Available Through DECIBEL Magazine". Roadrunnerrecords.com. 2013-08-14. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
- "Godflesh To Headline Roadburn Festival 2013; Performing Pure In Its Entirety For The First Time Ever - Roadburn".
- "Godflesh A-Z". Godflesh.com. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
- Kaye 1992, page 16.
- Ruffin, Josh (2007-10-23). "Justin Broadrick: Existing through risk". Metro Spirit. Retrieved 2008-09-19.
- Bartkewicz, Anthony (March 2007). "Justin Broadrick". Decibel Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-02-23. Retrieved 2008-06-19.
- Pettigrew 1991, page 22.
- Pettigrew, Jason. Godflesh: the Power of Positive Paradoxes. Alternative Press, 5(36), 1991, page 22.
- Chick, Stevie (2008-07-18). "Till deaf us do part". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-07-28.
- "Godflesh Interview". Godflesh.com. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
- Thompson 1994, page 44.
- Yates, Catherine (2001). Souls of a New Machine. Kerrang! 871: page 19.
- Alexander, Phil (1995). Alien Soundtracks! Kerrang!, 528: page 52.
- Blush, Steven (October 1997). DANZIG - Seconds Magazine No. 44. Retrieved 2007-08-30. Archived at www.The7thHouse.com.
- Mörat 1990, page 14.
- Converge FAQ  Access date: July 25, 2008.
- "Godflesh-Crumbling Flesh". Godflesh.com. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
- Thompson, Dave (1994). Industrial Revolution. Los Angeles, CA: Cleopatra.
- Wiederhorn, Jon (1 May 2002). "Godflesh Singer Suffers Breakdown, Breaks Up Band". MTV.com. Retrieved March 4, 2006.
- Vinylnet Record Label Discographies. link. – Earache Records catalogue numbers.
- Godflesh at Allmusic
- Godflesh fan operated website
- Justin K. Broadrick official blog
- Godflesh at Earache Records
- Godflesh at Relapse Records
- (French) Interview 1998 - Epitaph Zine
- December 1997 Interview with Roy Christopher
- October 1996 Interview with Roy Christopher
- Book proposal for a 33_1/3 book on Godflesh's Streetcleaner