The return of Godflesh has undoubtedly been one of my highlights of 2014. 13 long years had passed since ‘Hymns’ was unleashed before they came to a messy end, and although playing various festivals over the past few years since reuniting, no new material had seen the light of day until the ‘Decline & Fall’ EP earlier this years, and now the full length album has finally arrived.
Just as the EP could have been released in the bands prime, the album starts off in a very similar vein. The cold, simplistic repetitive beats and riffs of ‘New Dark Age’ come straight out of the nineties and are accompanied by a rumbling bass that could threaten the integrity of any building that it is performed in. This produces a menacing sound that puts many of this year’s heavier offerings to shame. Godflesh are indeed back, and ready to lay waste to anything that threatens to stand in their way.
Much of the early part of the album follows the same classic Godflesh formula as described above, with both ‘Dead End’ and ‘Shut Me Down’ featuring Justin Broadrick’s disparate vocals in association with GC Green’s hellish backing, the latter of the tracks being a monumentally heavy track, without really feeling that the band have been too stretched. You always know something bigger could be just around the corner with this band. There is a slight change of approach on ‘Life Giver, Life Taker’ with Justin’s vocals a lot more subdued and mellower without seeming too incongruous with what has gone before. This is found again on ‘Imperator’ as the band show that they can ease things down a little bit, almost a short respite from the surrounding noise. The second half of the album returns to the nihilistic bleakness of the first few tracks, particularly on ‘Carrion’ where effects on Justin’s vocals give him a demonic edge.
Reunions often have a lot of pressure attached to them as fans clamour all over social media demanding more tours, immediate albums and so forth, no matter how much repairing there is too do after the demise of a band first time round. This is further proof, alongside other recent comebacks from fellow Earache alumni Carcass and At The Gates, that if a band take their time getting back into the groove of things and get used to being back together, then a long wait for an album is more than worth the wait, as all three of those bands have now delivered excellent albums. The rewards for the patience have indeed paid off, easily a contender for album of the year.