Godflesh: Justin K. Broadrick (guitar, vocals, various instruments); G.C. Green (bass, various instruments).
Recorded between January and May, 1994.
All songs written by Justin K. Broadrick and G.C. Green.
Building off the technical experimentation of Merciless, Selfless turned out to be more what Broadrick later called his "rock & roll album." And while it was in ways the most accessible release the band did in the '90s, it wasn't per se commercial. The rough, clipped, lock and load style of the band remained essentially unchanged at heart -- Broadrick's brawling, echoed vocals, the sheer impact of the guitars and drum machine beats, Green's uneasy bass. Still, some of the singing is Broadrick's most conventional, some of the riffing almost epically classic rock, and the technical/digital pulse at the heart of the band sufficiently straightforward enough not to annoy those who can't stand the idea of a non-human drummer. Songs like "Anything Is Mine" and "Crush My Soul," the latter infused with a strange breathing rhythm loop, or so it sounds, capture this version of major-label Godflesh pretty well, both unpleasant enough to keep the wimps away and accessible enough to win over the more open-minded. It's a slightly uneasy balance but one that the band still makes work, with enough worthy tunes on Selfless to make it of interest. There are plenty of other tunes pitched towards a slower, more restrained pitch, like Pure's "I Wasn't Born to Follow" -- good examples here include "Black Boned Angel" and the mighty fine "Empyreal." "Mantra," with its appropriately minimal lyrics (one word per verse, treated with even more echo than before), makes for one of the best songs on the album, doom-laden and quietly haunted all at once. The final track takes it to a logical limit; "Go Spread Your Wings" isn't "Pure II" redux, but it's about the same length, exchanging the sprawling chaos of the earlier tune for a more formal, slowly building arrangement of husky whispers into typical Broadrick vocals, slow guitar parts and even what sounds like piano. ~ Ned Raggett