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Godflesh: Songs of Love and Hate

Album Reviews:

Alternative Press (11/96, p.67) - 5 (out of 5) - "...Imagine a confluence between Black Sabbath and Wu-Tang Clan's rhythms..."

Album Notes

Godflesh: J.K. Broadrick (guitar, vocals); G.C. Green (bass); B. Mantia (drums, percussion).

Engineers: J.K. Broadrick, G.C. Green, Steve Freeman, House.

Recorded at Avalanche, England and Tyrell Productions, Oakland, California in 1995 and 1996.

Of the many excellent Godflesh albums released during the '90s, Songs of Love and Hate will appeal to fans of traditional heavy metal more than any of the other albums. The preceding albums -- Pure, Merciless, and Selfless -- integrated a strong sense of industrial mechanics with their machine-driven percussion into Justin Broadrick and G.C. Green's aggressive, detuned guitar poetry. Succeeding releases -- Songs of Love and Hate in Dub and Us and Them -- integrated even more computerized manipulation into Godflesh's emo-heavy metal with these albums' hip-hop, dub techno, and drum'n'bass flavors. But on this particular intermediary album, Broadrick and Green actually chose to use a human drummer rather than strictly machines, giving this album a much more traditional sound than any of these other albums. The songs on Songs of Love and Hate are less mechanical and more fluid than preceding albums just as they are less innovative and more standard than succeeding releases. Of course, just because Godflesh happen to conform to traditional heavy metal practices on Songs of Love and Hate doesn't mean that the music pales in comparison to the group's other albums. In fact, never before has the group rocked so hard, sounding tighter as a unit and more human than ever before. Broadrick's lyrics aren't epic or complex, but rather succinct and lucid, dwelling almost entirely on contradictory emotional extremes. For example, on "Gift from Heaven," the ex-Napalm Death guitarist shouts "I am nothing/feel like everything" during the chorus and mumbles lyrics such as "I am love/I am hate/hate my love/love my hate" during the verse. The monolithic riffs grind harmoniously as they never have before, with Broadrick's gigantic guitar tone bulging through the speakers with rude, distorted salience while Green's bass guitar grinds with more prominence than one can nearly handle. To make the sounds even more extreme, B. Mantia smashes and hammers his drums with rabid aggression, instilling the sense of anger than no machine can possibly accomplish. Yet for as intense and aggressive as this album is, in addition to its bleeding emotions, it isn't quite as daring as other Godflesh albums. Every song tends to follow the same template of intro-verse-chorus-bridge with similar sounds, tempos, and moods. What makes albums such as Pure and Us and Them so amazing is partly their experimentation. Sure, every song on these albums may not be successful, but the first listen is always a rewarding experience as Broadrick explores the future of grindcore-influenced heavy metal. The succeeding Songs of Love and Hate in Dub showcases the experimental possibilities of these songs, offering listeners a chance to decide between the traditional approach and the experimental approach. ~ Jason Birchmeier


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