Godflesh - Decline & Fall review


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Band: Godflesh
Album: Decline & Fall
Release date: June 2014

01. Ringer
02. Dogbite
03. Playing With Fire
04. Decline & Fall

Before everyone says, including myself, "Godflesh reunited, here comes Streetcleaner and Pure II", let's all take a step back and relax. They have just released a new EP, their first new material since 2001, and from what I gathered after the first play through of Decline & Fall, those fans wanting old-school Godflesh will not be disappointed. However, they will be left wondering if this all JK Broadrick had left in the tank. The classic foundations are apparent, but I am not sure the fresh ideas are.

I won't go into detail about the history of Godflesh, but I feel it's important to state that the band is the brainchild of JK Broadrick, who - since the disbandment of Godflesh in 2001 - has fronted his solo project Jesu. Jesu is best known for drawing on an eclectic mix of influences, ranging from ambient music, drone doom, shoegaze, downtempo, and industrial music. Fans have been debating if he would even be able to revert back to the original Godflesh sound: songs that entail grindcore elements, industrial discordant guitars, and powerful intermittent bass and drum work. Or has he navigated too far beyond his brutal roots to ever want to return? Has he used up all of his musical intentions the last 10 years or so in Jesu's rather large discography? Let's continue to find out.

The very first notes and vocals of Decline & Fall immediately invoke Pure memories. Pulsating pseudo-industrial beats march along with fabricated crunching guitar work. Dissonant and clean enunciated vocals and throaty, gruff, organic growls flow smoothly with the haunting, grind-edged approach taken from earlier works. The entire album features these characteristics and it seems there is no refinement in the original sound. The wall of bass has become a Godflesh trademark and is used exclusively in all of the songs here. Debilitating and bone-crushing riffs are created from abrasive and drawn-out guitar noise while the over-amped bass guitar and artificial drums wrench out abrupt chunks of clatter. The electronic and mechanized aspects are still present too. Synthetic back beats, feedback-ridden guitar noise, and tidal low-end power chords create a derelict and foreboding atmosphere. While listening, I think some of these songs could be cuts from older Godflesh albums or EPs. Loaded with texture, I promise all of these ingredients will emit some sort of "back to school" feelings.

However, as I mentioned before, the originality in the songs isn't there. They almost sound too old-school. I hear many methods and techniques from earlier albums, such as over-simplified song structures, perpetual drum patterns, and repeated series of hooks and riffs. Basic presentations and axioms are too consistent, and the songs don't get boring necessarily, but feel less re-calibrated. There are only so many trite hip-hop beats and mutant dance rhythms I can take. Also, the production is a bit too "perfect". The presentation isn't as hazy and crunchy as we've come to expect. Godflesh have always thrived on a raw, shaded, and metallic aura, but this record sounds too crisp. There is too much clarity. The guitars really elevate above the groundwork and the cold, mechanical cymbals generated from the drum machines make you want to turn the treble down a bit. To be blunt, the overall sound is too squeaky clean for a Godflesh record.

How the Godflesh fans feel about this EP will depend on what kind of expectations they have. If they want a return to the glory days and want a bit of a nostalgic/sentimental trip down memory lane, Decline & Fall will give them the jolt they are craving. If they are expecting something ambitious and authentic, they will be left wanting more. I think JK Broadrick wanted to aggrandize his faithful fans by giving us some time-honored music that will hold us over until the release of the new LP. Here's hoping it's not Decline & Fall II.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 7


Written on 26.06.2014 by Be gentle, I never said I was any good at this!


Comments: 2   Visited by: 78 users
27.06.2014 - 17:12
Paleblood Hunter
Great review! It was very well written. I really enjoyed Decline & Fall and feel Broderick delivered on everything I wanted from a four-song mini. I am very much looking forward to A World Lit Only By Fire.
The force will be with you, always.
30.06.2014 - 18:35
The Galactican
Nicely written and quite thoughtful review. Been a Godflesh fan for longer than I care to say and I think your sentiments are pretty spot on. It's a very nostalgic sounding release, which is great, but it definitely doesn't sound like a band coming out fresh. Still, very hopeful for the new record. New nostalgic Godflesh is better than no Godflesh at all.

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