Sunday Old School: Godflesh
Back in December 2009, Sunday Old School covered Napalm Death, one of the most influential bands in the history of extreme music. In some respects, we never stopped looking at them, as the column has covered several bands with ties to Napalm Death, namely, Cathedral, Carcass, Extreme Noise Terror and most recently, Terrorizer. Today will see a continuation of this trend, as Sunday Old School looks at Godflesh, one of the most innovative metal bands to ever emerge from Great Britain.
Godflesh was initially birthed as Fall Of Because in 1985 in the city of Birmingham by bass player G.C. Green and guitarist Paul Neville, with Justin Broadrick joining the ranks soon afterwards as a drummer and vocalist, though he would leave soon after to become the new guitarist for Napalm Death, making his recording debut with the band on the A-side of the classic, "Scum" album. Broadrick would leave Napalm Death soon after to become the drummer for Head Of David, one his favourite local bands, but once again remained unsettled and soon contacted Green about reforming Fall Of Because, an invitation Green accepted. Fall Of Because soon became Godflesh and the duo of Broadrick and Green decided to stay as such, incorporating the use of a drum machine instead of hiring someone to sit behind the kit.
The same year they formed under their new moniker, they released their self-titled EP through Swordfish Records, which was highly acclaimed by fans for being an original release and for taking the sound made famous by bands like Throbbing Gristle one step beyond. The praise continued to come Godflesh’s way in 1989 when they released their debut album, "Streetcleaner" through Earache Records, one of the most popular record labels for extreme music. "Streetcleaner" was lauded for it’s diverse influences, with the dark and slow roots of Black Sabbath being meshed with popular hip-hop artists at the time such as Eric B. and Rakim.
Following a string of EP’s and singles, Godflesh released their second full length, "Pure" in April 1992. Much like, "Streetcleaner," the album became one of the band’s most popular records to date, helped along the way by the eye catching music video for the excellent track, "Mothra." "Pure" is still seen as an important album in many aspects, with a number of fans and musicians citing the record as a large influence as well it being listed in Terrorizer magazine’s "Most important albums on the 1990’s" feature. Godflesh then took an ambitious step when they signed with major label Columbia for their next album, "Selfless." The record featured a higher quality production but was unable to find any chart success and consequently, the group returned to Earache after the release of the "Merciless" EP in 1994.
A change in direction of sorts was to follow next, when the band released, "Songs Of Love And Hate" the following year. A drummer, Bryan Mantia (who had also played with Tom Waits and was later to join Guns N Roses,) was recruited, making Godflesh a trio for the first time. The new album also saw the group dabbling deeper with electronica and hip-hop and saw the crushing heaviness of earlier releases toned down somewhat. Whilst a risky move, it proved to be a successful one, with critics praising the band for venturing into uncharted territory, while still keeping the core of their sound. The shift continued with the group’s fifth album, "Us And Them," which was released in 1999, once again as a duo, though this time with considerably less of a metal sound than all their previous releases, diving deeper into hip-hop and also experimenting with drum and bass. The album was still well received by critics however and shortly after releasing a double disc retrospective, "In All Languages" in 2001, Godflesh decided to bring back their heavier sound for their next record, "Hymns," though they continued to toy with other genres.
After the release of "Hymns" however, Green decided to leave the band and was replaced by former Killing Joke, Prong and Murder Inc. bass player Paul Raven. Raven’s first duty with Godflesh was to be a two month tour of the United States with High On Fire, however that tour never came to materialise as, on the day the car came to collect him for the tour, Broadrick suffered a nervous breakdown, forcing him to cancel the tour. Shortly afterwards, Broadrick decided to disband Godflesh, claiming that it didn’t feel right without Green. With the band now laid to rest, Raven was hired by Ministry and Broadrick created a new band, Jesu, which was a much more electronic outfit. After seven years however, Godflesh announced in 2009 that they would be returning to the stage the next year at the French festival, Hellfest. The comeback proved well received and shortly afterwards they headlined the Supersonic festival in their home town of Birmingham, marking their first British show in ten years. Since then the band has performed at a number of festivals and Broadrick has confirmed that a new Godflesh album is in the works, however fans may have to wait some time for the record, as the band have claimed that they will be piecing the music together slowly, so as to ensure another outstanding album.
Godflesh - "Christbait Rising"
Godflesh - "Slavestate"
Godflesh - "Mothra"
Godflesh - "Crush My Soul"
Godflesh - "I, Me, Mine"
Godflesh - "Animals"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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