Godflesh - Selfless
Earache Records
Ambient Industrial Grind
11 songs (78:17)
Release year: 1996
Earache Records
Reviewed by Aaron
Archive review

Godflesh is a very strange band, but a very describable one. Simply enough, think of them as the industrial grindcore version of Burzum.

No, you’re not having hallucinations. You did, indeed, just read that Godflesh is the industrial grindcore version of Burzum.

No, I’m not an idiot; there are reasons for this comparison. Let’s see: compare the guitar styles. Minimalist, hypnotic, and repetitive. Compare the vocals: wholeheartedly honest howls, screams, and yells that sound torn from their very essences. To cleanse, fold, and manipulate a Daniel quote: ‘If madness and desperation had a voice, it would be Varg Vikernes.” That’s all well and good, but if despair, desolation, and fury had a voice, it would be Justin Broadrick. Compare also the monstrous influence both had on the scene: you can hear Burzum in many of today’s modern black metal recordings, and Godflesh was a huge influence on Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy, and Fear Factory, to name only a few.

On Selfless, Broadrick pulls off a lot of beautiful singing and some of his trademark howls, some even lacking the gritty distortion effects that his past vocals in albums such as Streetcleaner had.

The production on Selfless is very, very clean, oddly enough. Broadrick went on to call this his ‘rock n’ roll’ album, and it is certainly an accurate statement. It relies more on guitar riff than guitar tone or experimentation, the standard industrial collage of two-bar riffs repeated ad nauseum used liberally here, though Broadrick seems more content to let the quality of the songwriting speak for itself, and doesn’t bother to speed along at 200 beats per minute like Ministry does, instead allowing the programmed, on-spot beats to unfold around the listener. This is almost like ambient grindcore, if such a thing could possibly exist. The guitar tones are as good as they always are, forgoing the chainsaws of Pure and heading for a fuzzier, more industrialized version, reminiscent of Fear Factory’s tone on Demanufacture.

The songs themselves are mostly of the utmost quality, including the obligatory 23-minute-plus track at the end, which is actually my favorite long Godflesh song. Go Spread Your Wings is a modern classic in its own right, an epic journey through the remarkably waste-free sewers of Broadrick’s musical imagination, complete with the pulse-like pounding drums and subtle guitars, reminiscent only in concept to Pure II.

My other favorite song on this is the opener, Xynobis, featuring some beautiful singing and one of the best riffs Godflesh ever wrote, along with savagely heartfelt lyrics. I could listen to this song over and over and over for hours, and I can’t say that for more than 20 songs so far.

A couple of weak spots exist. Anything is Mine drags its ass around like a maggoty corpse pulled by an eight year old girl, and Bigot is uninspired, featuring a really lame riff and some really bad lyrics.

In conclusion, Selfless is a pretty good introduction to the world of Godflesh, though not their best work. I recommend the two-disc Earache reissue, also featuring the Merciless EP, over any other version.

Killing Songs :
Xynobis, Crush My Soul, Black Boned Angel, Go Spread Your Wings, Empyreal, Heartless, Mantra
Aaron quoted 83 / 100
Other albums by Godflesh that we have reviewed:
Godflesh - Decline & Fall EP reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Godflesh - Pure reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Godflesh - Streetcleaner reviewed by Aaron and quoted CLASSIC
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