Godflesh are hard to argue against as being one of the most prolific industrial metal band of all-time. From 1982-2002, duo Justin Broadrick and G.C. Green released six full-length albums and four EPs before disbanding in late 2002. Fans would have to wait 12 more years for any new music from the band, Decline and Fall being a teaser for a new album coming in the near future. They could not have come back at a better time, with industrial metal at it’s weaker stage with Trent Reznor losing the darker edge to his sound and other pioneers of the genre coming back around the same time frame(Skinny Puppy, Ministry). Godflesh create a strong argument to have a better come back than the other two with this short EP.
Godflesh are back with the various staples of the industrial metal genre. The guitar work is monotonous and grinding, beating down the listener to their eventual submission, and the drums are fast-paced and heavy as most work in their vast discography. The band mostly picks up the pieces with the heavy lyrical themes, though, with religion, captivity, humanity’s meaningless existence, and war all being up for debate with the various themes of the track listing. In other words, Godflesh have not softened up one bit over the past 12 years.
The opening track, “Ringer,” kicks off the EP in classic industrial fashion. The opening guitar line is fuzzy and ethereal, giving the whole song a black metal vibe. The drum breakdown in the middle is heavy and nasty, much like the guitars and lyrics throughout, which attack religious figures and belief systems. “Dogbite” comes in next with a much shorter track length but packs a heavier punch, using a more melodic and riff-led approach. Vocals are mixed behind the instrumentation a bit, but the theme of being a caged animal in society is powerful as needed.
“Playing With Fire” is easily the darkest song, which speaks toward humanity’s meaningless existence and the monotony we fill our lives with. The theme is punched through with a nasty grinding bass line and melodic but heavy guitars. The ending is just the right amount of menacing and grim to give the EP a change of pace. The title track closes everything off with reverb-slathered guitar work, simplistic but booming drums, and vocals that are loud and overbearing.
There are a few issues mixed throughout Decline and Fall to note though. Despite creating interesting sounds from beginning to end, the guitar lines can become almost too simplistic on second and third listens. This tends to be a problem with the industrial genre in general, but it becomes noticeable here more than most. Also, even for an EP, twenty minutes is a bit too much of tease for fans of the genre. One more song might have made the ride feel a bit more fulfilling but at the same time, the length is not going to turn any fans away.
Godflesh come back with every bit of the dark edge they once had, which is a much needed breath of fresh air for industrial metal. There are no bad songs on the four song track listing; the grimy guitar and drum work is solid, and the themes are mixed well throughout. Even if the length leaves a bit to be desired, this is a triumphant come back for a band that the genre drastically needed again.
3. Playing With Fire
4. Decline and Fall