Review: Godflesh – Decline & Fall

Godflesh - Decline & FallI hear the sound of rust in hydraulic mechanism, the rickety calibration slips of age, and the lag of deliberation and self-awareness tugging on the heels of vehement attack. Inevitably, dragging the past into the present has brought with it the residue of everything since; Decline & Fall is Godflesh with the gravity turned up, and while it’s easy to see how Justin Broadrick has resurrected certain aspects of his earlier work (the rhythmic elastication of 1992’s Pure, the stuck conveyor belt of 1994’s Selfless), the band sound less naïve and unambiguously “outward” in their energy projection. At those moments where the 8-string guitars groan like an asynchronous cog mesh, I feel the resistance of self-questioning and careful wording pushing back against the catharsis, loading the band’s heaviness with the black matter of contemplation and scrutinising forethought.

The oppositional drag is no more potent than on “Ringer”, whose lethargic thumps seem to carry Broadrick’s leaden palm-mutes on their back; within seconds the EP is already at risk of being crushed under its own weight, and the vocals tilt between two notes as though bouncing deliriously between two forces of thought. And yet in amongst this onset of inner tension, the colours and emissions are unmistakable – vertical concrete, cold automation, grey repetition – while G.C. Green’s bass still hangs slack between the drums like an unoiled chain, rasping through insatiable cycles. The rest of the EP starts to stagger outside of the formidable, equidistant pillars that are rhythmically erected by “Ringer”: the cyclical drive of “Playing With Fire” comes back round recurrently in a swaying, ritualistic chant, while the title track stumbles down a dubstep groove as though drunk with rage, occasionally falling prone to a dissonance that juts out like a facial twitch. The flesh is ultimately the same, just older; eyes deeper set, cast in the darkness of psychological shadow.