When the assertion is made that an artist’s newest effort demonstrates homage to their roots, it is typically met with at least a small shred of doubt, especially when the claim is aimed towards a more veteran act. This is due to the tantalizing concept of revisiting the “golden years” often having a difficult time fitting through the mold of the actual band in their current state. Godflesh’s reunion album A World Lit Only by Fire, the band’s first in over a decade, would seem to be a perfect example of this theory. For even forgetting the fact that Justin K. Broadrick’s work with Jesu bears little resemblance to Godflesh’s crushing debut Streetcleaner, none of the five albums that Broadrick and bandmate G.C. Green released after their introduction truly reiterated their initial sound either.
Yet, what A World Lit Only by Fire actually offers is complete incineration of every word in the preceding paragraph. Broadrick and Green have crafted a project that not only sounds like a much more appropriate follow up to Streetcleaner than Pure, but simultaneously proves that the duo’s make-up sex was immeasurably more intense and filthy than fans and critics could have ever anticipated. Old-school Godflesh fans wishing for Streetcleaner Part Two have just received a tattered invitation soaked in gun powder, gasoline and misanthropy.
Opening track “New Dark Ages” provides enough evidence for this as soon as it commences, with an industrial groove that emanates utter nihilistic grit and Broadrick’s sneering shout piercing through with just as much rage. And though the actual composition of this track is excellent, there is no denying the fact that the production on this album is both impeccable and essential to its success. Every riff and thud that Broadrick and Green produce takes the hefty thickness of Streetcleaner and provides just enough clarity to improve the quality but retain the tone.
The only foreseeable flaw that could be construed from A World Lit Only by Fire is its more or less singular focus. Without question, each of the album’s tracks demonstrates Godflesh at their most visceral and invigorating. However, fans hoping for Broadrick and Green to re-visit the experimentations of their past, such as their previous incorporation of electronic and hip-hop influenced beats, may be disappointed.
But in truth, by the time the terrifying soundscape of “Forgive our Fathers” provides the album with its apocalyptic conclusion, this critique seems difficult to cling on to. Broadrick and Green have found a way to transport their audience back to the late eighties while never once sounding winded or devoid of ideas. A World Lit Only by Fire is not just an album for fans of Godflesh or industrial metal, but one for anyone that desires the soundtrack for when its title becomes a reality.
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Godflesh’s A World Lit Only By Fire gets…