A horrible hack


A World Lit Only By Fire

Year Released: 2014
Format: CD
Label: Avalanche Recordings
Reviewed by Sean Haughton on Dec 9, 2014
godflesh's reunion was always stated as more than a cash grab and something justin broaderick had missed from his time with solo project jesu. seeing the band perform this year, solely tearing through their most primal, basic and early material, it was very clear that this comeback was no fucking joke and this was how godflesh were going to play their cards. it's hardly surprising given broaderick's 20 years of creating some of the heaviest music possible that jesu's limitations as a project would begin to appear. can anyone really claim that as a musical direction jesu warranted 17+ individual releases? broaderick's want to create expansive, soaring music just didn't fit with the same limitations that godflesh thrived in for years.

as a live force it was without doubt one of the most jaw-dropping things i've ever seen, so i worried when this summer's stopgap EP 'decline and fall' didn't really get me going. it's by no means bad, but a couple of the tracks felt clumsy and not quite fully realised. turns out that was just the duo dusting off the cobwebs. 'a world lit by fire' opens with 5 minutes of the most hateful and punishing work the unit has ever committed to record. this is truly 'streetcleaner'-style godflesh in spirit: no frills, no auxiliary drummer. deeply ugly music with no attempts at blending in jesu-style melody. while there are some instances of broaderick choosing singing over his usual bark strewn across the record, there are none of the leftfield musical departures that marked 2001's watermark 'hymns' (a record i believe is the band's creative watermark). 'a world only lit by fire' is a purely "fuck you" statement.

while this return to the band's "classic style" hits the ground running, at 54 minutes it's a long time to endure such a uniform set of punishers. by the end of 'carrion' (the record's undoubted high point), you're kind of spent. some tracks suffer merely by it being a little too much of one thing in one sitting. closing track 'forgive our fathers' especially drags and feels unnecessary after how final the ten-tonne riff of 'towers of emptiness' feels. having your 7-minute closer follow another 7-minute song only kneecaps it further. as one of the most notoriously and stubbornly unforgiving bands of the last two decades, you almost get the feeling they're purposely trying to weed you out. despite this, it really should be emphasised that this record is VICIOUS. like "oh you think your band is heavy" grip you by the throat vicious. it sounds more complete than several mid-period godflesh releases (have you heard 'us and them'?) and is well-worth the time of anyone into heavy music, especially newcomers to one of the most innovative bands ever to come from this country.

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