The sole point of reviewing a CD is, for me, the reviewer, to try and convey to you, the reader, what a CD sounds like. Many reviewers talk about what genre a band is in. Others try and describe a CD’s sound by comparing it to bands the reader may already be familiar with. (“This sounds like Metallica with a little Britney Spears thrown in,” for example.) With that in mind, let me tell you what Godflesh’s latest CD, Hymns, sounds like.
When I was about eight years old, my father decided to put a new engine into his Blazer – a big block 454 out of a ’70 Corvette Stingray. After a couple of months of working on the project, it was time to test everything out. It was the middle of December. With dad in the truck and me standing in front of it, he started the engine. The headers weren’t hooked up, and it was SO loud. Common sense told me to try and stuff my mittens into my ears – but I didn’t. I stood there, listening to the excrushiatingly loud “buh-buh-buh-buh” of the idling engine and feeling the rumble in my stomach, which felt SO good. Dad yelled something to me out the window, but all I could do was smile, wince, and give him the thumbs up.
That’s what Godflesh sounds like.
A slow, heavy, crushing wall of pain that tickles and upsets your stomach at the same time. That’s Hymns. Those of you who weren’t thrilled with the experimental sound on the last couple of albums (SoLaH and Us & Them) will be glad to find Godflesh have returned “home”. By keeping the riffs simple, the guitars tuned down, the drums wonderful and the vocals in your face, Godflesh have churned out a winner. I’ve heard the word “bleak” used to describe the overall album sound – accurate, I’d say. Certainly not an album I’d want to listen to while alone and with a loaded gun in the house.
You want band comparisons? Maybe slower Prong, maybe heavier Clutch, with a little Melvins thrown in for good measure. When some people hear a blast beat they say, “that’s heavy!” For me, when you hear a six minute song that is filled with guitars turned down to B and matching bass, constantly licking and teasing you into thinking it’s going to speed up or explode or climax at any moment, eventually rewarding you with a massive onslaught of brutal mass … THAT’S heavy. Quit thinking about 130 beats a minute and respect 13.
Much of the new album has clean vocals, which marks a bit of a direction change from the last few albums. There’s a split between drum machine tracks and live drums, but to tell you the truth I had trouble telling
which tracks were which. The guitars and bass mix together in a dirty low end swamp, but you can still tell them apart in the mix.
The CD booklet leaves quite a bit to the imagination. The photography of sparks, swirls, and flames is interesting, but I’d trade a lyric sheet for it in a second. In the 8 page booklet you get a track listing, a picture of the band, a “thanks” page and a lot of pictures of fire. The Godflesh website has a collection of lyrics as interpreted by listeners, but nothing official by the band.
Godflesh isn’t for everybody. You can’t dance to it. You can’t even walk to it, really. Everytime the CD’s on I end up stomping around the house very slowly like Godzilla in one of those old films – much to the enjoyment of my wife.
02. Deaf Dumb and Blind
07. White Flag
08. For Life