In 1988 Godflesh released their debut record, arguably an E.P. rather than an album the eponymous Godflesh was released by the Birmingham Record Shop label Swordfish. It was a safe bet by the independent record store – putting out just enough copies for the record to reach Numer 20 in the Indie Charts.
Avalanche Master Song with its immediate hypnotic pull signifies Justin Broadrick has moved on significantly from his work with Napalm Death. It goes less noted but the record changed the Hardcore scene almost immediately as speed gave way to powerful mind images and s-l-o-w throbs.
Veins chases down the drum machine with deviating side stepping noise, again hypnotic Godflesh alter states for the listener purely with music. Harrowing yet pure it’s a steam roller of sound – headlights honed in with dark knowing intent.
Electronic maybe – yet the drum machine of Godhead could hardly sound more organic and its sound is muted with draping feedback, menacing bass and shrouded vocal delivery. Then the agonising crawl of Spinebender. A very slow machine gun of drums entwined with piercing feedback guitar shards, it paints a bleak image of industrial inner-cities and it knows it.
Weak Flesh ups the ante that had already scaled threatening heights. The pulse of the sound darkens and offers more threat sounding like a warning. This is Hardcore in a new guise (for 1988) and one senses the bands intent. Unlike Hardcore with clear and / or political message here the vibe is the nod. It’s very possible to lose yourself in the sound, you just have to let go.
The record finishes with Ice Nerveshatter. The lyrics are more audible as the music snakes apart. Splinters of sound. The record is a statement. Godflesh did not stand still and threw something new into what was becoming a safer alternative music scene in the late 80’s. Their debut album proper Streetcleaner would soon raise the bar higher and remains one the best albums of the era and beyond. This is far reaching cleansing material.
Head music for people with there heads in the right place…