In 1988, the same year industrial metal pioneers Ministry released the complex, experimental The Land of Rape and Honey, Godflesh surfaced from the urban decay of Birmingham, England, with a primitive self-titled EP that proved slow and steady songs could be just as heavy as frantic speedfests. Anchored by trudging, programmed drums and lumbering guitars tuned almost as far down as the bass, Godflesh generated a dense, abrasive din spattered with a psychedelic haze of bellowing vocals.
Equally inspired by Throbbing Gristle, Killing Joke and Celtic Frost, Godflesh’s ugly and mesmerizing music influenced a new generation of acts, including Korn and Meshuggah. Alas, after Godflesh’s sixth album, 2001′s syncopated and electronic-embellished Hymns, they lost their creative drive and abruptly self-destructed. For the next nine years, frontman Justin Broadrick pursued other projects, including the droney post-rock of Jesu, the dissonant electronic outfit Final, and the abstract, experimental Greymachine. Then, after Godflesh were invited to play the 2010 Hellfest in Clisson, France, Broadrick got back together with cofounder and bassist, G.C. Green and the rusted gears slowly creaked back into motion.
Their seventh full-length, A World Lit Only By Fire is a slow-motion apocalypse that harks back to the brutality of 1989′s Streetcleaner and 1990′s Pure. Gone are the electro-grooves and layered melodies of latter-day Godflesh. Rather than pummeling redundantly, as Godflesh sometimes did in their early years, they’ve constructed songs that offer brief, ambient-based respites from the assault. “New Dark Ages” starts the barrage with an echo of feedback and cymbals that click and hiss before the first devastatingly heavy serrated chugs shake the ground like a 6.0 earthquake. “Life Giver Life Taker” boosts the tempo and adds more drone to the tone, while draining the vocals to a weary, sedated melodic echo. There’s nothing pretty about A World Lit by Fire, but old-school fans fired up by fury should welcome the band’s return as a four-legged hate machine and forgive (if not forget) the 13 long years between records.