I have to admit that I have little time to go chasing music that doesn’t turn up here. New Electric Wizard not received, oh well, new Morbid Angel well we didn’t get it either, fuck em, new Godflesh, where is it, send it now, I must hear it! Yes I was for once frothing at the bit for this one and was not alone as it was only sent out to all hard pushed and penniless music scribes a week before release. Fact is though it is Godflesh and I was prepared to chase and wait. The last album ‘A World Lit Only By Fire’ took 13 bloody years to arrive and that was something we never expected to happen with the band having basically been put on ice, never even likely to return. It proved well worth the wait too, riding very high in my album of the year list and blowing me away enough to even pick it up on vinyl as well as CD. Normally one would not have been too surprised for the duo that is Justin K Broadrick and G.C. Green to have followed it up with an album of remixes of the tracks but that was not the case this time around, indeed new album Post-Self arrived with little fanfare or even much in the way of notice that it was coming, not even being mentioned on the official JK Flesh page until the end of October. Whilst looking there I have just discovered his remix of Stranger Things composers Survive track so excuse me while I delay this review by another few minutes.
So what strikes first about Post-Self is the fact it is a slightly shorter album than the last one and the songs are all fairly compact. Also it is not quite such a “massive bludgeoning and unrelenting force” as World on the whole. Don’t let that put you off in the slightest though. If the former album heralded the apocalypse this one sees the shell-shocked survivors emerging and the vibe here is as dark as a nuclear fallout with little in the way of hope being offered. The duo rather than hammering away make lots of incredibly strange and sinister shapes with their electronic armoury. There is a bit more of an experimental and even dub heavy feel that takes back in time to earlier works and even side-lines such as Scorn here. There is only one band that it could possibly be as the opening cutting guitar line of the title track sharply hones in around hefty brooding bass beats and strident screams. This is from a band who have been influential in the extreme but there’s no mistaking the real thing. There’s a fantastic spring like groove to this one and it’s hefty as a lump of lead as you are practically forced off your feet to bounce away to it. Even on PC speakers I can feel it rumble across the whole floor with the bass trembling thickly enough to actually shake the room (yep perhaps I should turn it down a notch). Strident squealing guitars and more chug than a very large diesel rig see ‘Parasite’ infecting along with guttural and gruff vocal roars trying to void the body of its unwitting host. It’s easy to lose yourself in the underlying sounds here too as they coil around the denser textures with an arcane and primitive fervour that is highly reminiscent of one of the few bands that co-existed and developed together naturally Killing Joke. The mood and unsettling feel is all over this but the thicker levels like the industrialised clank on numbers such as ‘No Body’ is there feeding off your very face. Shorter tracks like this work very well and each song offers some new twisted form for you to marvel at.
A couple of songs offer the cleaner vocals but even with them on ‘Mirror Of Finate Light’ they are bleak and have futility rather than hope at their core. This is quite expected really considering that themes are “anxiety, depression, fear, mortality, and paternal/maternal relationships,” this is no fantasy land but cold hard life. Apocalyptic heft and snarling distorted vocals on ‘Be God’ could well be questioning very existence and is as harrowing a number as one could ever bear witness to but are those glistening guitar shards near end (very Jesu) an offer of respite? Perhaps as the mood does lighten a little with ‘The Cyclic End’ but even the clean vocals sound like they are battling with the ever increasing turmoil of a fractured mind. Tension mounts with the shrill guitar on ‘Pre-Self’ strange sounds warp beneath and drums hit like hammers, it’s like the onset of a mental trauma put to musical form with the vocals babbling like too many thoughts. Perhaps it is speaking to me more than I even anticipated listening to it on a simpler level. The sharp stabbing synthesized knives add more pain on ‘Mortality Sorrow’ its tempered shrillness a febrile rush to the senses and even though vocals are omitted on ‘In Your Shadow’ the constant churn of the instruments constantly talk and invade the senses as they eclectically tremble and quake. Everything comes to ‘The Infinite End’ (well it does on my copy but there’s a couple of remixes and that aforementioned Survive mix on the bandcamp page and various versions of the album) but this has well and truly left its mark on me and even in many ways it feels like it has spoken out loudly.
Ever since wandering into an Our Price record store and being drawn to the cover of an album called Streetcleaner in 1989 Godflesh have never let me down. Post Self is another classic album of the future and as far as mine is concerned it’s destined for plenty of plays.
(9/10 Pete Woods)