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Remastering the Masters
Eleven years after the genre-sculpting Streetcleaner (1989), industrial-doom (or “doom-dustrial”) juggernauts, Godflesh, released what is probably one of their most debated albums from fans and critics alike. Hymns (2001) marked a return to “classic” Godflesh with greater emphasis on sub-blasting guitar sludge. However, in its time, it was one of those “love it or hate it” albums that tore Godflesh fans apart, dividing them into a caste system of Hittites and the hangers-on. So did this album even deserve to be re-mastered, then? What’s so great about it? The answer: sheer Euro-hate and a reminder that Godflesh ain’t dead yet.
The album begins like a Slayer concert taking place in a tattoo shop that was converted into an opium den along a desolate Birmingham alley, electronics stripped of the equation like copper wiring, guitars set to “anguish,” and vocals that would make Bane swoon. Getting cross-faded on Melvins and Unsane, Godflesh makes it no secret from the beginning where this album is going. Opener “Defeated” sets up the melodic makeup of the album nicely with some Sabbathian crunch and Sluggo-esque grumbling from frontman Justin Broadrick, G.C. Green’s gutterbass, and power-chug drumming from newcomer (at least back then) Ted Parsons.
Despite the slow-burn, murky start that sets the mood, Hymns has its fair share of groove? “Deaf, Dumb and Blind,” “Tyrant,” and “Vampires” all possess what nu metal acts of the early 2000’s wish they had: good taste. Forgetting all about the hit-or-miss “electronic” influences of 1999’s Us and Them, Godflesh returned with one of its most consistent albums. However, purists might have wished it had the reckless abandon of the classic Streetcleaner or their 1992 release, Pure. But, that isn’t to say Godflesh have missed all their marks.
In fact, one of the best reasons to own the Hymns remaster is the excellent makeover in overall production. Even though Hymns was their most “modern” record by contemporary standards at the time, the album still lacked that “something” factor. Now, like Nine Inch Nail’s remaster of Pretty Hate Machine, the album has been reborn, sounding more visceral than one could ever imagine. If you’re a Godflesh fan, you’re definitely going to want to snag this immediately. If you’re a fan of plodding, Brit-sludge agony (or anything “doom” related), Godflesh’s Hymns may fit perfectly in your CD collection of doleful stoner-misery.