Godflesh (EP)

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Godflesh
A black-and-white still image of a man's face from the 1966 film Seconds
EP by
Released1988
RecordedJune–July 1988
StudioSoundcheck in Birmingham, England
GenreIndustrial metal
Length30:48 (original release)
52:36 (reissues)
LabelSwordfish
Producer
Godflesh chronology
Godflesh
(1988)
Streetcleaner
(1989)

Godflesh is the debut extended play by English industrial metal band Godflesh. The eponymous EP was originally released in 1988 through Swordfish Records and later saw several reissues on Earache Records with two additional songs. Though often overshadowed by the critical success of Godflesh's first full-length studio album, 1989's Streetcleaner, Godflesh was one of the first industrial metal releases and would help define the genre's sound with programmed drum beats, heavy metal guitar and unusual emphasis on bass.

Background[edit]

Fall of Because, the band that would eventually become Godflesh,[1] temporarily dissolved in 1987 when Justin Broadrick left to drum for the English experimental group Head of David.[2][3] After only six weeks with that band, Broadrick was fired for being, according to him, "too noisy" of a drummer.[4] In April 1988, he and Fall of Because bassist G. C. Green reformed their project under the name Godflesh and set to work on a self-titled EP,[5][6] which would be recorded in June and July of the same year at a studio in Birmingham.[7] Crucially, it was in this reunion that Broadrick shifted from acoustic drums to vocals and guitar and that the percussion was instead programmed on an Alesis HR-16 drum machine.[8][9] The decision to employ stiff, mechanical beats rather than a traditional human drummer would prove pivotal for Godflesh and industrial metal at large.[9]

Composition[edit]

As one of the first releases to merge the genres of industrial and metal, the music of Godflesh is defined by its programmed drumming, Broadrick's low guitar and growls and Green's pummeling bass.[8][10][11][12] The EP's sound, informed by Swans, Big Black, Killing Joke and Throbbing Gristle, is notably heavy and slow, built upon the deliberately repetitive pounding of the drum machine.[13][14][15] Simon Turner of Melody Maker highlighted the EP's discipline and restraint as its greatest asset, praising its so-called "cruelty of denial".[15] The songs are often glacially paced, focusing on exploring chords through repetition, and Broadrick's vocals (either screamed or wailed) are sparse.[16][10] Martin Walters of AllMusic described the guitar as "explosive",[13] and Jason Birchmeier of the same publication called the tempo "lumbering".[9] Alternative Press's Jason Pettigrew characterised the EP as "oppressive and brutal".[17]

Unlike many metal releases with guttural vocals and downtuned instruments, the EP's tone is not overtly masculine. About this subject, Melody Maker's Simon Reynolds described Godflesh as "terminal", or at the end of musical development, writing, "Rather than feminise themselves, they'd rather their masculinity was defeated, their strong bodies crushed and pulverised."[14] Broadrick has often noted this himself, referring to the band as defensive instead of offensive.[18][19] When asked directly about the topic in 1990, he answered, "We despise the celebration of male ego that comes with most metal. It's pathetic; all these guys with their penis extension guitars just make us laugh."[20]

Release[edit]

Godflesh was released in 1988 through the independent label Swordfish Records.[21] Distributed only on vinyl at first, the EP was a surprise underground hit that reached position 20 on the UK Indie Chart;[22] Digby Pearson of Earache Records took notice.[23][24] Because Swordfish could not fulfill international demand, Earache acquired Godflesh and promised the group wider circulation.[24] In 1990, a year after the acquisition, Godflesh was reissued on CD with two bonus tracks.[25] These songs, "Wounds" and "Streetcleaner 2", were in-house remixes of songs from the band's debut full-length album and first release on Earache, Streetcleaner (1989).[14] Godflesh was remastered and again reissued in 2014, this time as a gatefold double LP.[26] On all versions of the EP, the cover artwork was taken from the 1966 John Frankenheimer film Seconds.[27]

A still frame from the video for "Avalanche Master Song" that depicts religious imagery typical to Godflesh

"Avalanche Master Song", the EP's first track, is one of few Godflesh songs accompanied with a music video. Directed by three fans of the band (Jack Sargent, Julian Weaver and Stephanie Watson) who had followed Broadrick since his days drumming with Head of David, the video comprises bootleg recordings of early Godflesh concerts.[28] Some of the footage is from the band's first public show in Brixton, London.[28] Interspersed among performance clips are brief shots of Christian iconography, something typical to Godflesh. This video was officially released for the first time in 2001 on the compilation In All Languages.[28] The title "Avalanche Master Song" is derived from two Leonard Cohen songs, "Avalanche" and "Master Song" from 1971 and 1967 respectively.[29]

Critical reception and legacy[edit]

Godflesh received positive reviews, but it was mostly overshadowed by the band's later releases. Martin Walters of AllMusic called the EP "one of the most influential recordings in the industrial metal scene", but suggested that new fans should listen to Streetcleaner, Slavestate (1991) or Pure (1992) first.[13] Walters went on to describe the EP as "pioneering" and said that it "undeniably marked a high point in avant metal".[13] Also from AllMusic, Greg Prato said Godflesh helped "pave the way for countless copycat acts",[8] and Jonathan Gold of the Los Angeles Times suggested that the EP influenced the sound of many metal groups, especially Ministry.[12] Melody Maker published three discrete reviews of Godflesh from 1988 to 1990, each from different authors. In 1988, Simon Turner praised the EP's focus on a drum machine as well as Broadrick's "huge but overawed" vocals.[15] Turner appreciated the vulnerability of the music contrasted against its harshness and weight.[15] In 1989, an author credited as 'P.O.' favorably contrasted Godflesh against then-current music trends, expressing a struggle to find what genre the band fit into.[16] In 1990, Simon Reynolds reviewed the Earache reissue of Godflesh, admiring its extreme weight and blend of diverse influences.[14]

Since the late 1980s and early 1990s, Godflesh's reputation has grown and critics have retrospectively looked at their debut EP in a favorable light; Joe DiVita of Loudwire called Godflesh one of the "most exciting releases ever in heavy metal"[30] and in their book The New Metal Masters, H. P. Newquist and Rich Maloof wrote that Godflesh was, at the time, the most ominous and malevolent music in existence.[10] BraveWords called the EP "genre-defining".[31]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleLength
1."Avalanche Master Song"5:14
2."Veins"4:30
3."Godhead"5:01
4."Spinebender"5:07
5."Weak Flesh"4:23
6."Ice Nerveshatter"6:31
Total length:30:48
1990 reissue bonus tracks
No.TitleLength
7."Wounds"13:06
8."Streetcleaner 2"8:41
Total length:52:36

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Godflesh liner notes[7]

Godflesh
Technical personnel
  • Malcolm Ball – engineering
  • Richard Davis – photography

Charts[edit]

Chart (1988) Peak
position
UK Indie Chart[22] 20

References[edit]

  1. ^ O'Connor, Andy. "Heavy Metal Techno: JK Flesh on Futurism, DIY Culture, and the Beauty of Non-Music". Electronic Beats. Archived from the original on 2018-10-10. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  2. ^ Nasrallah, Dimitri. "Justin Broadrick: Napalm Death – Godflesh – Techno Animal – Jesu – Pale Sketcher". Exclaim!. Archived from the original on 10 February 2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  3. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Fall of Because – Biography & History". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  4. ^ Cimarusti, Luca. "Artist on Artist: Justin Broadrick of Godflesh Talks to Producer Sanford Parker". Chicago Reader. Archived from the original on 14 December 2017. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  5. ^ "Godflesh 1991" (Press release). Nottingham: Earache Records. 1991. Archived from the original on 2018-07-11. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  6. ^ Thompson, David (1 December 1992). Industrial Revolution. Cleopatra Records. p. 44. ISBN 978-0963619303.
  7. ^ a b Godflesh (Vinyl liner notes). Godflesh. Swordfish Records. 1988. FLESH LP1.
  8. ^ a b c Prato, Greg. "Godflesh – Biography & History". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Birchmeier, Jason. "Justin Broadrick – Biography & History". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 15 December 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  10. ^ a b c Newquist, H. P.; Maloof, Rich (1 April 2004). The New Metal Masters. Blackbeat Books. pp. 37–38. ISBN 978-0879308049.
  11. ^ The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History: The Grunge and Post-Grunge Years, 1991–2005. Greenwood. 2006. ISBN 0313329818.
  12. ^ a b Gold, Jonathan (19 April 1992). "10 Essential Industrial Albums". Los Angeles Times: 183.
  13. ^ a b c d Walters, Martin. "Godflesh – Godflesh". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 2018-06-12. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  14. ^ a b c d Reynolds, Simon (March 1990). "Godflesh – Godflesh (Earache)". Melody Maker. 66: 38.
  15. ^ a b c d Turner, Simon (November 1988). "Godflesh – Godflesh (Swordfish)". Melody Maker. 64: 44.
  16. ^ a b P.O. (June 1989). "Godflesh". Melody Maker. 65: 13.
  17. ^ Pettigrew, Jason (March 1991). "Godflesh: The Power of Positive Paradoxes". Alternative Press (5(36)): 22. Archived from the original on 6 April 2016. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  18. ^ Kailas. "Architects of Rage: Godflesh on Streetcleaner [Interview]". Trebuchet. Archived from the original on 22 February 2018. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  19. ^ Gavrilovska, Ana. "A Conversation with Justin Broadrick of Godflesh Ahead of Their Detroit Performance". Metro Times. Archived from the original on 21 August 2018. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  20. ^ Estrada, Kevin (December 1990). "Justin Broadrick on Godflesh". Guitar Player.
  21. ^ "Godflesh 'Streetcleaner' L.P./Cass/CD" (Press release). Nottingham: Earache Records. 1989. Archived from the original on 2018-07-11. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  22. ^ a b "Indie Hits 1980–1989". Cherry Red Records. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  23. ^ Doran, John. "Godflesh – Band Information". Home of Metal. Archived from the original on 11 July 2018. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  24. ^ a b Pearson, Digby. "Godflesh – 'Tiny Tears' 12-inch?". Earache Records. Archived from the original on 5 July 2018. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  25. ^ Buckley, Peter (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. p. 432. ISBN 978-1858284576.
  26. ^ Carnie, Honk. "Review: Godflesh – Self-Titled (Reissue)". SLUG Magazine. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  27. ^ Nanos, Darren. "Godflesh – Self-Titled EP (1988)". Just a Visual. Archived from the original on 20 February 2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  28. ^ a b c In All Languages (DVD liner notes). Godflesh. Earache Records. 2001. MOSH250.
  29. ^ Hassan, Marcos. "Godflesh Is Still Driven by Implosion (and Leonard Cohen Lyrics)". Vice. Archived from the original on 19 February 2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  30. ^ DiVita, Joe. "Is the EP a Relevant Format in Today's Music Climate?". Loudwire. Archived from the original on 2018-07-16. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  31. ^ "Godflesh – Decline & Fall EP Due for Release This Month". BraveWords. Retrieved 13 October 2018.

External links[edit]