Album review: Godflesh – Purge

Industrial innovators Godflesh bring grooves and grimness on cathartic ninth full-length…

Album review: Godflesh – Purge
Olly Thomas

Few individuals have dedicated as much time or psychological effort to redefining heavy music as Justin Broadrick. He’s pulverised clubs with mutant techno as JK Flesh, delivered art-noise-dub with Zonal, and gone all-in on melancholy shoegaze under the Jesu banner. And, of course, there’s Godflesh, whose status as industrial metal innovators has never precluded the tactical use of acid house samples or hip-hop beats. The latter are in full effect in the early stages of this astonishing new album.

Opener Nero teases 10 seconds of unaccompanied hip-hop intro before the inevitable appearance of a classically crushing Broadrick riff. Land Lord opts for ’90s breakbeats alongside a colossal guitar groove, while the fearsome Army Of Non may be one of the most unlikely places you’ll hear a constantly repeating ‘Check it out, y’all.’ For the avoidance of doubt, this isn’t rap metal, but it is as dancefloor-orientated as Godflesh have sounded in aeons.

However, catharsis through rhythmic abandon is only one element of Purge, bangers sharing space with bleakness and despair. On Lazarus Leper, martial beats and needling two-note guitar lines soundtrack a world where ‘Nothing makes sense.’ The Father opens with the words ‘Failure… Imperfection…’ as it delves into mournful ambience to unnerving effect. You Are The Judge, The Jury, And The Executioner is eight minutes of starkly drifting grimness, while even the junglist energy fuelling Permission is more long dark tunnel than all-night party.

An overwhelming addition to a back catalogue not lacking in transcendental power, Purge finds Justin channelling distress and disgust into music that hits both body and soul, creating something wonderful out of horror and pain. This really is a perfectly-titled album.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Swans, Killing Joke, Dälek

Purge is released on June 9 via Avalanche

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