Godflesh - Selfless

Production: Clear and roomy. Like being near-left stage.

Review: Slicing angular progressions pull together to form a a metamorphosizing series of phrases, dynamic entities moving radically in a fairly free but sparse shape of sound.

Guitar climbs through tones, pulling them from unconscious corners of musical composition, building a ranging collusion of tones falling over one another, moving in and out of one another. The music moves on its own impulse, a life odd for music made to abrade and destroy, to grind into the nihilistic cynicism and indecision, fear, of the decades of mechanistic darkness the world festers in now.

Godflesh's Selfless chronicles this band in an uncanny way. One can see the delight in drawn-out guitar noises fading slowly over odd industrial beats that marked their first album, and then observe both the powerful, shifting riffs and the modulating percussion of Streetcleaner, and then the desire for tightness and a more rock-n-roll riff structure of pure, all melded into a streamlined, simplified, but still living, beautiful package of industrial sound.

I'd be pushing it to read Slavestate in some of the background low noises and strange samples that fill in the space between notes or beats like hallucinations fill in the swimming gaps of boredom in reality.

Godflesh were the original industrial grindcore band, with layered, zoned-out guitars drifting across each other in odd electrical precision, with the distorted voice alternately strung over the music like lights at a carnival or percussively entranced with it, playing away from it and to it, coarsely battering out vague images and linguistic capsules of confined abstract thinking. This pace moved on to a more dance-industrial feel on their third album, but at that point, all of the pop-industrial bands in the world had heard the Godflesh sound, and the result shined through, notably with Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails, and the vaunted Ministry. As life cycles through its inverses, one can see the cross-influence occur, with the ideas of those influenced coming back to the original creators. This new Godflesh is less guitar, more beat and moving tempo, and has more of an instant-aesthetic than the darker caverns of understanding forced by the older, denser styles.


1. xnoybis (5:54)
2. bigot (4:33)
3. black boned angel (6:47)
4. anything is mine (3:59)
5. empyreal (6:03)
6. crush my soul (4:26)
7. body dome light (5:31)
8. toll (4:13)
9. heartless (5:33)
10. mantra (7:26)
11. go spread your wings (23:50)

Length: 78:17

Godflesh - Selfless: Grindcore 1994 Godflesh

Copyright © 1994 Earache

The drum machine has been taken more seriously as an artistic device than the simple rhythmkeeper it became on parts of Slavestate and Pure. Guitar fades out, but keyboards, static and beautifully subtle samples build up a sound, not as much around the industrial pounding of the drum machine, but with it, integrated into its style to play with what it can do, and to mock it, occasionally.

Justin Broadrick's (guitar, vocals) voice is less of a distorted howl for most of this album, although he reaches moments of vaguely savagery. He works the parts he sings to work within the music instead of laying a pop aesthetic over the sounds, the structure of the art. Let it be said, however, that the lyrics have gotten terrible and mainstream on this album, from the predictable rhymes to the traditional alienation/rebellion song topics. Not all are this way, and in fact, most seem to be innocuous allusions, but those that are stand out as glaring dumbness in a position of grace.

Behind it all, the cheesegrater bass of G.C. Green powers the rhythm, and adds a rust encrusted blast of abrasion, but fails to integrate musically into the new vision constructed here except as previously noted. It doesn't hurt, but it leaves a hanging "why - why not?" question as to the compositional aspects of that instrument on this release.

Selfless wraps itself up in a protracted and beautiful instrumental noise collage, with Broadrick showing the best of his revolutionary spirit wearing a mask of too much world-experiential data, with an adherence to a conception of sound that can be seen struggling to bring its ends together, an idea that powers itself with the need to resolve something without the desire to limit the crazy freedom of the world with that action.