Godflesh has always been a pioneering act, meddling with sounds across diverse genres, and binding them together under the cohesive industrial realm. Formed by Justin K. Broadrick and C.G. Green after disbanding their previous band Fall of Because, Godflesh went on to release some of the seminal works of the extreme experimental music from the late ’80s to its break-up in 2002. From the harsh, punishing Streatcleaner to the atmospheric Pure, experiments with hip-hop structures in Us and Them and the post-metal tempering in Selfless and Hymns, the band was constantly morphing and with every release they presented something always enticing and novel. It is no coincidence that Godflesh is considered an influence on a number of artists ranging from post-metal icons Isis and post-hardcore legends Converge to industrial metal powerhouse Fear Factory and alternative heroes Faith No More.
Despite the prolonged hiatus, Broderick and C.G. Green decided to resurrect Godflesh in 2010 and unleash four years later their comeback album in A World Lit Only By Fire. Heavy and dirty, mechanical and tactical the record refueled the fire that Streatcleaner first started 30 years ago, as the duo went on and created a blazing reminder of the extreme qualities of Godflesh. Three years later the duo returns once more with Post-Self, suggesting that their new work will feature an all-encompassing vision of the band’s career.
However, Post Self kicks in with a fairly metallic sense, as the sharp riffs arrive and combine with the repetitive rhythmic backbone. But, as the opening track unfolds its structure begins to transform, becoming more abstract as each second passes. The guitars slowly melt away, the rhythm subsides, and abstract notions appear molded through noise and feedback. This introduction presents the narrative that Post Self follows, stripping away its metal side and focusing on atmosphere, industrial structures and electronic elements to a higher degree.
For the most part Post Self dives straight into a dark and relentless world that Godflesh has crafted. Using the punishing rhythms, the duo is still depending on the power of the synthetic percussion and mechanical progression to enact their towering sound, but they move it even further with heavy distortion being applied over it. It is an exercise in pushing the limits, as “No Body” suggests with the beats disfigured through the fuzzy clipping, which the band applies over melodic outlines in the hip-hop induced moments, or the hooking parts of “In Your Shadow”.
What is the game changer here is the elusive and dreamlike ambiance Godflesh constructs, forcing the record to move into an extraordinary and intriguing trajectory. Coupled masterfully with the industrial foundation, creating a disturbing contrast between the two sounds, the band goes full-on dystopian with a bitter shoegaze attitude. “Mirror of Finite Light” displays the minimal perspective the band takes on, crafting an excellent moment of hazy psychedelia. The trip continues down this path with “Be God”, a horrifying track that explores the full extent of the heavy shoegaze influence, revealing the true horror that lurks beneath. The transformation is finally complete with “Cyclic End” furthering the otherworldly sense with a slightly sweeter tone, as the feedback appears to color the soundscapes and open up the bleak scenery.
Post Self is summed up perfectly on its title. This is Godflesh’s album of sovereignty over their past self, and they begin to anneal their sound to reach the core of their identity. In that process not only it appears like the band is getting better as the years pass, but they are also able to project more of their true nature. Stripping back the metallic sounds, getting rid of traditional progression and structure, it is a daunting thought that for so many years, with the release of that many excellent albums, Godflesh presented solely the facade of the project. Not unlike the moment of Sarah Palmer’s unmasking in the new Twin Peaks series, listening to Post-Self feels like the band is slowly removing the exterior and reveal the true demon that lies underneath.