Godflesh Digs Deep For Old School Set In First Night Of Short London Residency
Godflesh has always been a law unto themselves. For as much as they are pigeonholed in the industrial metal category, which is definitely a tag they helped create, they've never been afraid to take risks, veer into new territory and challenge any preconceived notions as to what Godflesh is. While not always in full metal mode, as evidenced by their latest album, 2017's excellent, "Post Self," they will always attract headbangers thanks to their connection to Napalm Death, though they certainly don't cater to this crowd specifically.
The Birmingham duo recently completed a two night residency at the 229 club in London, a venue located immediately to the left of Great Portland Road tube station, which is a fascinating place in and of itself. The 229 is a club which not only hosts a variety of performances, but all profits go to benefit university students and inside it's something of a mix of different typical settings. The main hall itself is quite big, with a raised stage and, at least on this occasion, folding chairs located either side, almost like an assembly hall or community centre, while towards the back is a bar not unlike one would find in the more corporate place like an 02 Academy. The staff were also excellent for the most part, being very friendly and welcoming, though this was also the first time I've ever seen security stand amidst the crowd, for what reason, I haven't worked out.
With the scene set, the evening's entertainment got underway with Street Grease. This quintet are keen to stand out themselves, mixing industrial, noise and rock to create an abrasive, though at times surprisingly catchy sound. Attention is immediately drawn to the stands in the middle, shining neon lights and being the epicentre of the sonic chaos, while either side of them you'll see the band's guitarist and bassist. Still a young band with plenty ahead, they were a solid choice to get things moving, with an eye catching performance and a... different take on the Dead Kennedy's classic, "Police Truck." Decent stuff.
Up next was another mish mash of sorts, Zetra. Entering the stage to a wonderful intro track and with chains wrapped around their equipment, Zetra at first look like a new black metal duo, but what comes out of the speakers was certainly a surprise. Appearances can be deceiving and this London two-piece are certainly not metal, but they are good. Very good in fact. Imagine the Pet Shop Boys decided that in their ever changing array of costumes, they'd go for the Darkthrone look and add a bit of a Cigarettes After Sex influence and you might get the idea. Their music is dark, without being miserable and is an interesting experience, though truth be told, isn't the most fascinating thing to watch. There isn't much in the way of energy that their live show emits, but fortunately, the aforementioned chairs were there to sit on and soak up the music. I wouldn't rush out to see them again, but I'd certainly like to listen to them again.
Finally, it was the turn of Justin Broadrick and G.C. Green to enter the fray. As advertised, tonight would be made up of songs released before their 2002 break up, though it was only for the opening number, "Love Is A Dog From Hell," from the "In All Languages" compilation, did they go beyond material past 1994. As one might expect, their beloved debut album, "Streetcleaner" was well represented, with no less than four songs being brought out for the show, including the classic, "Like Rats."
Metal or not, Godflesh has always been extremely heavy and their audio assault was present as usual, though my last live Godflesh experience necessitated holding onto the bar for support as the weight of the bass was proving too much, a problem I didn't have this night, but that could just because I'm fatter now. Speaking of weight, the self-titled debut EP was also represented with full force, with "Spinebender," "Veins" and "Weak Flesh" all aired for the crowd. Other notable songs were "Crush My Soul" from the "Selfless" album, as well as "Pure" tracks, "Predominance" and "Monotremata."
The more casual fan may have been disappointed by the lack of more famous songs like "Christbait Rising," "Mothra" and "Slavestate" but these shows were almost certainly more for hardcore fans. Godflesh returned in 2014 and has since released two full length albums, with a third reportedly set to be released later this year, which fans and onlookers will both be very interested in. Their return wasn't just welcome, it was needed and with punishing live shows, dazzling visual backdrops and a thirst for experimentation, Godflesh continues to set the standard.
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.
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