Release Date: Oct 7, 2014
Record label: Avalanche
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Industrial Metal, Grindcore
It's been four years since industrial metal legends Godflesh reunited to perform live again after having been split up since the early 2000s. Finally, 2014 has seen the release of brand new material, first with the stunning Decline & Fall EP, and now with their highly anticipated full-length. Monolithic, heavy, raw and aggressive, A World Lit Only by Fire is 100 percent Godflesh, shattering any doubts that the duo, led by mastermind Justin K.
When Godflesh ended their tenure as a band with 2001's Hymns, it felt like the influential industrial metal outfit was revealing a portent of things to come, pointing listeners toward the carefully layered, melodic post-metal excursions that Justin Broadrick would go on to create with Jesu in the years that followed. It felt like things were done, as if the band had said all they needed to and, as a favor, were hipping listeners to what would be the next big thing in underground metal for the next decade or so. Returning not just to the band but to the stylistic roots where it initially started, Godflesh make their return with A World Lit Only by Fire, the duo's first album in 13 years.
It would be impossible to overstate the impact and influence Godflesh’s pioneering industrial squall has had on heavy and experimental music over the last 26 years. While guitarist/vocalist Justin Broadrick has since embarked on many other disparate musical adventures, it is the return of this, his most celebrated band, that has really set hearts aflutter. A World Lit Only By Fire bears little resemblance to Hymns, the supposedly final Godflesh album from 2001, which eased Broadrick’s transition into the post-shoegaze blurs of Jesu.
“Have you ever participated in genocide?” When I interviewed Justin Broadrick in 2007, he said he was asked that question while applying for a trip to the United States for the first time after 9/11. His anecdote was good for a sick laugh; Broadrick can be funny, despite his reputation as a poker-faced purveyor of extreme metal, shoegaze, and industrial music as a former or current member of the British groups Napalm Death, Jesu, and the resurrected Godflesh, among others. But his silly story about genocide is also indicative of the way absurdity and security can go hand in hand, especially in a world where safety is, at best, a collective hallucination.
Godflesh hasn’t released an album since October 2001. Think about that. A lot has happened in the intervening 13 years, from the War on Terror to the rise and dominance of social media sites like Facebook. Is there even a space in the here and now for a group that was a pioneering industrial band? A World Lit Only By Fire, which follows an EP released earlier this year, is proof that, indeed, there might just be life in the concept yet.