Do you remember Godflesh? I remember Godflesh.
I remember Pure. I still speak of it, without irony, as an album that changed my life. I remember the relentless grinding of the first self-titled album, the utter despondency of Streetcleaner, the uneasy paranoia of Slavestate, and the ups and downs of the rest of the catalog. I also remember grabbing every other project I could find that had Godflesh frontman Justin Broadrick credited somewhere on the jacket: Final, Jesu, Techno Animal, God, all of it.Broadrick eventually killed Godflesh and replaced it with Jesu, but the side projects continued to roll along.
Enter Greymachine, which is worth getting excited about due to the presence of a few other people of note: Aaron Turner, of Isis (another metalloid band that someone else once described as “a happier Godflesh”); Diarmuid Dalton, of ‘Flesh and Jesu and Final, as well as the underrated Cable Regime; and Dave Cochrane, most notably of the also-underappreciated Head of David (where Broadrick served as drummer for a time). The end result is a filthy mess of twisted wreckage that brings to mind everything from Broadrick’s early outfit Fall of Because — they existed in parallel with Napalm Death, where Broadrick also briefly appeared, and that alone should tell you what level of ferocity is at play here.
One of Fall of Because’s songs was named “Grind”, and that’s a good summary for what Greymachine sounds like: grinding, shearing instrumentation, played at a positively funereal pace. The guitars sound like they could be basses, and the basses sound like they could be horns, and the horns could well be vocals — everything’s one giant monstrous murk, with something like a fragment of a melody poking out every so often. There’s not that much differentiation between songs: “Sweatshop” has some frantic-sounding taped-off-TV voices at the beginning, and “Easy Pickings” has some looped guitar samples that wouldn’t be out of place on the more recent Final albums. And a couple of tracks have something approaching melody: “When Attention Just Isn’t Enough” has a fairly prominent guitar line (at least I think it’s a guitar) that I wouldn’t mind hearing in a cleaner mix.
For the most part, though, it’s all one big mass of thundering sonority. And it also reminds me of what I miss most about Godflesh: somehow, through all the roaring guitar lines and bone-breaking drum machines, there was emotion and human connectivity and even heart. Greymachine is all guts but not much soul — albeit fine if you like such things. I know I do; I just like other things, too.emusic.com=11527915