Godflesh – Hymns

This is a great album and perhaps the last thing you would ever expect from Godflesh, or at least to their more early career-oriented fans.  It’s a pretty logical precursor to Jesu, though thankfully it’s not as painfully blissful and drone-oriented as that project.  It’s pretty much the exact opposite of ‘Streetcleaner’ though; warm, stoner-influenced rock/metal with live drums and lyrics that aren’t overbearingly negative all the time.  Really it’s barely like Godflesh at all.

What it is, however, is amazingly good.  The massive, intimate production where you can hear every squeak of guitar really accentuates the alternately monolithic and delicate riffs with a dynamic, perpetually shifting undercurrent of drums and bass.  The simple, heavy riffs dominate the record and all other elements are just designed to back them up with Broadrick’s sometimes fragile, sometimes ferocious vocals soaring over the morass of bassy music.  The tone of the record jumps between oldschool Godflesh negativity and hopeful, uplifting tracks, making for a good deal of variety both instrumentally and emotionally.  Surprisingly, tracks from both sides of the equation are very strong; ‘Defeated’ is brutal and catchy while ‘Regal’ might be the most triumphant song ever.  ‘Jesu’ and its hidden track are a great example of the dichotomy of the record; it seems to be the soundtrack to Broadrick finally overcoming his anger and moving on with his life.

It’s a fairly simple album, though there is depth in its simplicity.  It’s probably too angry for Jesu fans and too happy for Godflesh fans, but for those who appreciate a real range of human emotions expressed in one album, it’s fantastic.  It’s nothing like ‘Streetcleaner’ and it’s all the better for it.

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~ by noktorn on July 21, 2008.

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