Koch / Music For Nations
This one is such a welcome and joyous relief to me. Hymns couldn’t have been a more apropos title — an ecstatic release under stern spires of black marble and granite. Or maybe just like welcoming an old friend home — I’d given up on Godflesh after the singularly monolithic and tear-jerking Pure. Afraid that they would never be able to follow up such a perfect record and that Justin Broadrick himself had become too absorbed in reinventing dance music is his own skeletal image with projects like Techno Animal. I was right that side projects kept him busy, but I was so fucking wrong about Godflesh being relegated to the status of memory. Hymns sees Broadrick and bassist G.C. Green back in force, leaner and more rhythmic/addictive than ever before. Lockstep Maoist marches combined with dub hell funk. Or is that fuck?
I think some of this rejuvenation is down to the very welcome addition of ex-Prong/Swans percussionist Ted Parsons to the fold. Great to see him back in heavy music, and adding his minimal killer cyborg beats to the mix. The sound is tighter now, like hands around a throat, focused, so hateful and rough — nothing is wasted and no life is spared as the machines rush on, pumping out dire doomsday slogans. It’s the tensile precision of Green and Broadrick combined with Parson’s heart of darkness drums that really give the Godflesh sound a needle of adrenaline in the heart that it needed. A dirty needle, of course.
Godflesh 2001 sound totally bastard powerful and relevant again, just like the experimental dancehall days of Slavestate. A shotgun in the mouth of the zeitgeist. Nowhere more so than on monstrous drone waves of sound like “Anthem,” building up stern towers of long chord repetitions with no hope for relief. I always loved that about Godflesh, how they’d burrow deep within a riff, prodding and exploring, learning every facet and coloration hidden under the skin. And they’d lay it bare. Vocals are hoarsely shouted and roared in impatient tones, or in damaged angelic singsongs. Green’s bass underpins the sound, mimics Broadrick’s guitar lines like a particularly deliberate stalker. Hymns is so fucking powerful. A fever dream Swans meets smoked-out dub aesthetic, nestled uncomfortably against a dose of Prong’s amphetamine-popping broken funk.
Sorry gang, the copy I got sent was badly cracked, so I couldn’t get past track nine without being trapped in an eternal noise loop. Appropriate, though difficult to review. Fellow Godheads that I pestered into buying this assured me that every single track is incredible and essential for continued life and happiness. Who am I to argue?