Godflesh (EP)

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EP by
RecordedJune–July 1988
StudioSoundcheck in Birmingham, England
Genre Industrial metal
Length30:48(original release)
Label Swordfish
Godflesh chronology

Godflesh is the debut extended play (EP) by English industrial metal band Godflesh. It was originally released in 1988 through Swordfish Records and later saw several reissues on Earache Records with two additional songs. An unexpected underground success, the eponymous EP made it onto the UK Indie Chart and peaked at position 20. Though not supported by any singles or music videos at the time, a fan-made video for "Avalanche Master Song" has since been made official by the band.

Extended play musical recording longer than a single, but shorter than a full album

An extended play record, often referred to as an EP, is a musical recording that contains more tracks than a single, but is usually unqualified as an album or LP. Contemporary EPs generally contain a minimum of three tracks and maximum of six tracks, and are considered "less expensive and time-consuming" for an artist to produce than an album. An EP originally referred to specific types of vinyl records other than 78 rpm standard play (SP) and LP, but it is now applied to mid-length CDs and downloads as well.

Industrial metal is the fusion of heavy metal music and industrial music, typically employing repeating metal guitar riffs, sampling, synthesizer or sequencer lines, and distorted vocals. Prominent industrial metal acts include Ministry, Godflesh, KMFDM and Nine Inch Nails.

Godflesh English industrial metal band

Godflesh are an English industrial metal band from Birmingham, England. The group formed in 1982 under the title Fall of Because but did not release any complete music until 1988 when Justin Broadrick and G. C. Green (bass) renamed the band and decided to use a drum machine for percussion. Melding heavy metal with industrial music and later with electronic music and dub, Godflesh's innovative sound is widely regarded as a foundational influence on other industrial metal and post-metal acts and as significant to both experimental metal and extreme metal.


Godflesh was recorded and produced over two months in Birmingham by frontman Justin Broadrick and bassist G. C. Green, both of who had played together in an early version of the band known as Fall of Because. Despite often being overshadowed by the critical success of Godflesh's first full-length studio album, 1989's Streetcleaner , the EP was one of the first industrial metal releases and helped define the genre's sound with programmed drum beats, heavy metal guitar and unusual emphasis on bass. Its and the band's title strive to reconcile the potentially deep and meaningful impact music has on people with its harsher, more physical side.

Birmingham City in the English Midlands, 2nd highest population of UK cities

Birmingham is the second-most populous city in the United Kingdom, after London, and the most populous city in the English Midlands. It is also the most populous metropolitan district in the United Kingdom, with an estimated 1,137,123 inhabitants, and is considered the social, cultural, financial, and commercial centre of the Midlands. It is the main local government of the West Midlands conurbation, which is the third most populated urban area in the United Kingdom, with a population of 2,897,303 in 2017. The wider Birmingham metropolitan area is the second largest in the United Kingdom with a population of over 4.3 million. It is frequently referred to as the United Kingdom's "second city".

Justin Broadrick Record producer, musician, singer

Justin Karl Michael Broadrick is a British singer, songwriter, guitarist and drummer. He is best known as a founding member of the band Godflesh, one of the first bands to combine elements of extreme metal and industrial music. He was briefly in the English grindcore band Napalm Death when he was a teenager in the mid-1980s, writing and recording guitar for Side One of Napalm Death's debut album, Scum. Broadrick has also maintained a parallel career as a producer, producing records and remixes for groups such as Pantera, Isis, Mogwai and Hydra Head labelmates Pelican. Since 2012, he has been releasing hard techno music under the solo moniker JK Flesh. Broadrick has set up record labels such as HeadDirt, Avalanche Recordings, Post Mortem Productions, Lo Fibre and Heartache.

G. C. Green British musician

Ben George Christian "G. C." Green is an English musician, best known as the co-founder and bass guitarist of the Birmingham-based industrial metal band, Godflesh.


Fall of Because, the band that would eventually become Godflesh, [1] temporarily dissolved in 1987 when Justin Broadrick left to drum for the English experimental group Head of David. [2] [3] After only six weeks with that band, Broadrick was fired for being, according to him, "too noisy" of a drummer. [4] In April 1988, he and Fall of Because bassist G. C. Green reformed their project under the name Godflesh and set to work on a self-titled EP, [5] [6] which would be recorded in June and July of the same year at a studio in Birmingham; Broadrick and Green undertook production duties themselves. [7] Crucially, it was in this reunion that Broadrick shifted from acoustic drums to vocals and guitar and that the percussion was instead programmed on an Alesis HR-16 drum machine. [8] [9] The decision to employ stiff, mechanical beats rather than a traditional human drummer would prove pivotal for Godflesh and industrial metal at large. [9] About the title of the EP and of the band at large, Broadrick said, "I heard someone once say that music is the voice of God. The word 'God' conjures something immense and inconceivable. The 'flesh' part is what effects you on a physical level. Our music is loud and destructive." [10]

Experimental music is a general label for any music that pushes existing boundaries and genre definitions. Experimental compositional practice is defined broadly by exploratory sensibilites radically opposed to, and questioning of, institutionalized compositional, performing, and aesthetic conventions in music. Elements of experimental music include indeterminate music, in which the composer introduces the elements of chance or unpredictability with regard to either the composition or its performance. Artists may also approach a hybrid of disparate styles or incorporate unorthodox and unique elements.

Head of David is a British heavy metal band that features vocalist Stephen R. Burroughs and ex-Napalm Death member Justin Broadrick. The band's sound paved way to various music genres, including industrial metal, grindcore and noise rock.

Record producer Individual who oversees and manages the recording of an artists music

A record producer or music producer oversees and manages the sound recording and production of a band or performer's music, which may range from recording one song to recording a lengthy concept album. A producer has many, varying roles during the recording process. They may gather musical ideas for the project, collaborate with the artists to select cover tunes or original songs by the artist/group, work with artists and help them to improve their songs, lyrics or arrangements.


As one of the first releases to merge the genres of industrial and metal, [11] [12] the music of Godflesh is defined by its programmed drumming, Broadrick's low guitar and growls and Green's pummelling bass. [8] [13] The EP's sound, informed by Swans, Big Black, Killing Joke and Throbbing Gristle, is notably heavy and slow, built upon the deliberately repetitive pounding of the drum machine. [14] [15] [16] Simon Turner of Melody Maker highlighted the EP's discipline and restraint as its greatest asset, praising its so-called "cruelty of denial". [16] The songs are often glacially paced, focusing on exploring chords through repetition, and Broadrick's vocals (either screamed or wailed) are sparse. [11] [17] Martin Walters of AllMusic described the guitar as "explosive", [14] and Jason Birchmeier of the same publication called the tempo "lumbering". [9] Alternative Press 's Jason Pettigrew characterised the EP as "oppressive and brutal". [18]

Industrial music is a genre of experimental music which draws on harsh, transgressive or provocative sounds and themes. AllMusic defines industrial music as the "most abrasive and aggressive fusion of rock and electronic music" that was "initially a blend of avant-garde electronics experiments and punk provocation". The term was coined in the mid-1970s with the founding of Industrial Records by members of Throbbing Gristle and Monte Cazazza. While the genre name originated with Throbbing Gristle's emergence in the United Kingdom, concentrations of artists and labels vital to the genre also emerged in Chicago.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Swans (band) American band

Swans are an American experimental rock band formed in 1982 by singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Michael Gira. One of few acts to emerge from the New York City-based no wave scene and stay intact into the next decade, Swans have become recognized for an ever-changing sound, exploring genres such as noise rock, post-punk, industrial and post-rock. Initially, their music was known for its sonic brutality and misanthropic lyrics. Following the addition of singer, songwriter and keyboardist Jarboe, who first appeared on the 1986 single "Time Is Money (Bastard)" and debuted as a songwriter on the 1987 album Children of God, Swans began to incorporate more melody and intricacy into their music. Jarboe remained the band's only constant member except Gira and semi-constant guitarist Norman Westberg until their dissolution in 1997.

Unlike many metal releases with guttural vocals and downtuned instruments, the EP's tone is not overtly masculine. About this subject, Melody Maker's Simon Reynolds described Godflesh as "terminal", or at the end of musical development, writing, "Rather than feminise themselves, they'd rather their masculinity was defeated, their strong bodies crushed and pulverised." [15] Broadrick has often noted this himself, referring to the band as defensive instead of offensive. [19] [20] When asked directly about the topic in 1990, he answered, "We despise the celebration of male ego that comes with most metal. It's pathetic; all these guys with their penis extension guitars just make us laugh." [21]

Simon Reynolds English music critic

Simon Reynolds is an English music journalist and author who began his professional career on the staff of Melody Maker in the mid-1980s, and has since gone on to freelance and publish a number of full-length books on music and popular culture, ranging from historical tomes on rave music, glam rock, and the post-punk era to critical works such as The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion and Rock 'n' Roll and Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past (2011). He has also contributed to Spin, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Guardian, The Wire, Pitchfork, and others.


Godflesh was released in 1988 through the independent label Swordfish Records. [22] Distributed only on vinyl at first, the EP was a surprise underground hit that reached position 20 on the UK Indie Chart; [23] Digby Pearson of Earache Records took notice and acquired Godflesh, promising them wider circulation since Swordfish could not fulfil international demand. [24] [25] In 1990, a year after the acquisition, Godflesh was reissued on CD with two bonus tracks. [26] These songs, "Wounds" and "Streetcleaner 2", were in-house remixes of songs from the band's debut full-length album and first release on Earache, Streetcleaner (1989). [15] Godflesh was remastered and again reissued in 2014, this time as a gatefold double LP. [27] On all versions of the EP, the cover artwork was taken from the 1966 John Frankenheimer film Seconds . [28]

Underground music musical genres beyond mainstream culture

Underground music comprises musical genres beyond mainstream culture. Any song that is not being legally commercialized is considered underground.

Digby Pearson, also known as "Dig," is a British musician, producer, and businessman. He is the founder of independent record label Earache Records.

Earache Records is an independent record label, music publisher and management company founded by Digby Pearson, based in Nottingham, England with offices in London and New York. It helped to pioneer extreme metal by releasing early grindcore and death metal records between 1988 and 1994. The label roster has since diversified into more mainstream guitar music, working with bands such as Rival Sons, The Temperance Movement, Blackberry Smoke and The White Buffalo. The company also hosted the 'Earache Express' stage at Glastonbury Festival in 2017 and will be hosting 'The Earache Factory' at Boomtown Fair 2018.

A still frame from the video for "Avalanche Master Song" that depicts religious imagery typical to Godflesh Avalanche Master Song image.png
A still frame from the video for "Avalanche Master Song" that depicts religious imagery typical to Godflesh

"Avalanche Master Song", the EP's introduction and a track that MetalSucks described as a "classic", [29] is one of few Godflesh songs accompanied with a music video. Directed by three fans of the band (Jack Sargent, Julian Weaver and Stephanie Watson) who had followed Broadrick since his days drumming with Head of David, the video comprises bootleg recordings of early Godflesh concerts. [30] Some of the footage is from the band's first public show in Brixton, London. [30] Interspersed among performance clips are brief shots of Christian iconography, something typical to Godflesh. This video was officially released for the first time in 2001 on the compilation In All Languages . [30] The title "Avalanche Master Song" is derived from two Leonard Cohen songs, "Avalanche" and "Master Song" from 1971 and 1967 respectively. [31]

Critical reception and legacy

Godflesh received positive reviews, but it was mostly overshadowed by the band's later releases. Martin Walters of AllMusic called the EP "one of the most influential recordings in the industrial metal scene", but suggested that new fans should listen to Streetcleaner, Slavestate (1991) or Pure (1992) first. [14] Walters went on to describe the EP as "pioneering" and said that it "undeniably marked a high point in avant metal". [14] Also from AllMusic, Greg Prato said Godflesh helped "pave the way for countless copycat acts", [8] and Jonathan Gold of the Los Angeles Times suggested that the EP influenced the sound of many metal groups, especially Ministry. [12] Melody Maker published three discrete reviews of Godflesh from 1988 to 1990, each from different authors. In the first, Simon Turner praised the EP's focus on a drum machine as well as Broadrick's "huge but overawed" vocals. [16] Turner appreciated the vulnerability of the music contrasted against its harshness and weight. [16] In 1989, an author credited as 'P.O.' favorably contrasted Godflesh against then-current music trends, expressing a struggle to find what genre the band fit into. [17] In 1990, Simon Reynolds reviewed the Earache reissue of Godflesh, admiring its extreme weight and blend of diverse influences. [15]

Since the late 1980s and early 1990s, Godflesh's reputation has grown and critics have retrospectively looked at their debut EP in a favorable light; Joe DiVita of Loudwire called Godflesh one of the "most exciting releases ever in heavy metal" [32] and in their book The New Metal Masters, H. P. Newquist and Rich Maloof wrote that Godflesh was, at the time, the most ominous and malevolent music in existence. [11] BraveWords called the EP "genre-defining". [33]

Track listing

All tracks written by Justin Broadrick and G. C. Green.

Original release
1."Avalanche Master Song"5:14
5."Weak Flesh"4:23
6."Ice Nerveshatter"6:31
Total length:30:48
1990 reissue bonus tracks
8."Streetcleaner 2"8:41
Total length:52:36


Credits adapted from Godflesh liner notes [7] [34]

Technical personnel


Chart (1988)Peak
UK Indie Chart [23] 20

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