Godflesh @ The Forum

16th June 2011

Review by Rhiannon Marley

Photos by Jo Blackened
Altercarnated Photography

It doesn’t matter that the Forum is half-empty, as predicted earlier this evening by Godflesh frontman, Justin Broadrick; rather, it’s half-full with nuclear expectation…..
Californian thrashers D.R.I. (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, for your information – 3.5/5) explode the bomb with power-chord-driven metal-punk, sourced all the way from 1982, and energy to burn.

They’re like sliding down the swimming flumes at Dundee’s Olympia Centre, whilst maintenance workers are hammering the hell out of the outsides: noisy, slightly disorientating, and you can hear technical precision going on, but can’t really take it all in.

They certainly ‘perform’ their songs, with well-seasoned charisma that’s seen the ropes. Cuts from ‘Thrashard’ to ‘The Five Year Plan’, with a Piña Colada mix of styles and sections, prove they know what they’re doing. But they’re a tad out of place supporting industrial metallers Godflesh; punk, thrash post-metal headliners, possibly, but D.R.I. are a little wasted for target audience appreciation in this cult haven tonight.

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Los Angeles is doing alright for stoner-doom. Well, if second support Goatsnake (4.5) are anything to go by. Sabbath-y grooves? Check. Ear-exploding fuzz through the stacks? Check. Hypnotic rhythm? Check. Then what’s the twist?

Oh yeah…the singer’s wearing a suit that must’ve set him back about 300 knicker…complete with syrup vocals and a harmonica. Set-list gems including ‘IV’ and ‘Slidin’ the Stealth’ show why their blend of traditional and heavier chapters of the blues is so effective: they’re speaking to the fans of the noisiest, and the sexiest, kinds of music at the same time, and the crowd can’t get enough of them.

Keeping the visual ‘costume’ difference between singer and band is original, too: it’s a reminder of how the disparate can be harmonised. And Goatsnake’s smoky sensuality harmonises the rough with the smooth; the old with the new. Fantastic.
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Not many words describe how dense the music of Godflesh (4) is. Suffice to say the Birmingham duo are tearing a 12-year-harvested new one in Kentish town tonight. Guttural backing tracks; simple guitar riffs; sludgy melodies: a chromium layer-cake.

The trouble is, for ears not used to die-hard Godflesh exposure, it all starts to get a little samey after the first few tracks. Close your eyes, and you’re being frog-marched through the titanium corridors of Satan’s gaff by an army of 90s drug lords.

It’s not that the sound is dated; it recreates an era of industrial explosiveness. But Godflesh fit the present too, and are still forging strong in the furnace this eve.

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With a set-list weighted in cuts from 1989’s ‘Streetcleaner’, they’re reinforcing their roots. Despite flirtations with other avenues, including their Columbia Records involvement for ‘Selfless’ (1994), and the electronic tone of ‘Songs of Love and Hate’ (’96) and ‘Us and Them’ (’99), Godflesh know their bread of integrity is buttered in bludgeoning bass and cult iconography.

They’re the blunt components of industrial metal: raw, undecorated and bold. And it’s not just their audio storm rasping a chord with 2011. Their V-sign to marketability, the kind embraced by Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, and other industrial faces, equips them with a punk sensibility. It jolts irony into the harsh music of Godflesh being the otherwise perfect soundtrack to the mentality and action, albeit without the capitalism, of crash-bang-wallop modern urban life.

12 years in the waiting? I was saying the same thing of Rob Zombie just 5 months ago. But unlike Zombie, Godflesh are totemic in the ‘alternative’ sphere without a rocket price tag. True, name-drops aren’t as frequent. But with such passion in them, all that matters is that their metallic lullabies are still soothing the darkest core of the underground…and will long continue to.

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Godflesh set-list:
· Like Rats
· Christbait Rising
· Streetcleaner
· Tiny Tears
· Avalanche Master Song
· Mighty Trust Krusher
· Life is Easy
· Dead Head
· Spite
· Mothra
· Pure

Encore:
· Crush My Soul
· Slateman

 

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