Just given this a couple of blasts and posted a short review.
I really enjoyed firing this up again - as I said in my review, it really does feel like a call from an old friend you haven't heard from in ages and didn't realise you missed as much as you evidently do. Some great memorable tracks here - Dog Day Sunrise, Body Hammer and Hunter-Killer to name but three. Love the play-off between the harsh and clean vocals on this album and Dino's riffing is really powerful and the machine-like rhythms are bang on the money. A great album of genuinely dystopian atmosphere where the remnants of humanity pitch against the machines' pitiless hive mind.
"Crown of black thorns, Human skin, ripped and torn, Where is your saviour now?" still gets me every time!
Godflesh with saxophone? Okay, obviously it's way more complicated then that, but that's kind of the first impression you get. I don't really know much about GOD, other than it's not just a side project of Justin Broadrick. I'm also not sure what I can add that Daniel hasn't mentioned already, I think his description is pretty spot on. This is not verse/chorus/verse music. This also a lot more organic sounding than Godflesh, not only with real drums... but if I'm not hearing things... bongos? While I agree there aren't really any weak moments, I don't really find it all that memorable either. I DID listen to it a few times (I agree that once isn't enough), but very little of it has really sunk in. Maybe I need to listen to it more? Or maybe this needs to be listened to at a loud volume in a room without any distractions. One thing I will add is this reminds me a lot of early SCORN (which yes, is also JK related) wherein the sound is great, but the songs don't really grab me. I like this better than SCORN though. There's a lot going on, but I'd have a hard time explaining what I just heard. That might be part of the point though. If this isn't easy music, can I really fault it for not being catchy? This is more about mood than riffs. I think I probably will return to this at some point. 3/5
Deep in the underground beneath New York City lies a band in UNIFORM. Since forming in 2013, before this album, Uniform released 3 studio albums, 3 collaborations with The Body (who had too much drone for me to stand), and one EP. This album, Shame continues the band's brave evolution. To answer their question "What if the antihero in your favorite film or book had no chance to repent, reconcile, or redeem himself?" A bleak yet captivating 34-minute industrial metal story, that's what! Shame marks the second album with a real drummer instead of drum programming. The drummer for this album is Mike Sharp. With live drums, there's more heaviness in the oppressive industrial sound of the group. The consistent elements bring together various styles to find here, not just their trademark industrial noise-metal, but also the atmospheric black metal of early 2000s Solstafir, the thrashy hardcore of 80s Neurosis, the doomy riffs of early 2000s Grand Magus, and a bit of melodic post-punk. Those influences are scattered around different songs, each of which using one of those outer styles, before mixing them in the 8-minute epic "I am the Cancer". One minor thing to criticize is the lack of dynamic variation, but that's OK because of the album's short runtime. The range of influences and genres keep Shame interesting and never sh*tty. Listeners will be rewarded even after just first listen. Uniform have made an impressive part of their catalog to bring excitement from the underground!
Review for their other metal album, The Long Walk, to be made soon...
My thoughts on some tracks (including my one suggestion):
Godflesh – “Pulp” (from “The Earache Peel Sessions” E.P., 2014)
5/5. The original version in Streetcleaner is one of my industrial metal favorites that can pulverize you into a pulp with the bass and drum machine rolling under the burning guitar slashing through vocals in a hopeless crescendo yelling "PULP" repeatedly until the last breath.
Strapping Young Lad – “The New Black” (from “The New Black”, 2006)
5/5. There's no better way to end my song-commenting journey through this month's playlists with a killer ending to the final album by progressive industrial metal band Strapping Young Lad! The intro riff at over the 30-second mark and the chorus nearly two minutes later are worth repeating. I f***ing love the lyrics and bad-a** vocal range. What's also satisfying is the drumming. It's a wonder this album that's metal as f*** isn't hitting the charts. Long live the music of one of the best bands of all time, Strapping Young Lad! Now that the band is over, the heavy world was bleak...until the heavier part of the Devin Townsend Project.
Absolutely not my thing, I found this album to be more annoying than anything, enough for me to not really want to return for another listen. There are some killer riffs in here, and the overall sound obviously appeals to someone (see posts above), but this really grated on me in a rough way.
So the first Godflesh record... definitely a good one, but considering the heights the would reach a few years later, not one of their best. At this point Broadrick and Green were clearly onto something innovative, but they were still finding their sound. I don’t think they had quite figured out how to work within the confines and limitations of using a drum machine. Also , the production isn’t quite as heavy as on subsequent records (which I’m sure had to do with time/financial constraints and inexperience). The result is interesting though: it may not be super heavy (relatively speaking), but it’s still pretty brutal and abrasive, along the lines of Big Black, or maybe even Unsane (especially on “Veins”). I would love to hear how “Godhead” would have sounded if it was recorded during the Streetcleaner sessions. The classic Godflesh bass and guitar tones are already present, but the vocals aren’t there yet. While I agree with Daniel that the vocals were never the focal point, one thing I love about the later releases is how well Broadrick works within his vocal limitations (same as with the drum programming). On the other hand, I don’t think he ever sang a song the way he does on “Ice Nerveshatter” again. I can’t put my finger on it, but his vocal approach on this song is more loose and human than I’m used to hearing from him. I personally think Godflesh really hit their stride with Slavestate and the rest of their 90’s output (Us and Them maybe being a slight step down). Regardless, this is still essential for any GF fan, and the songs are all at least cool, if not great (not sure if I care as much for the bonus tracks, but I’m kind of a purist/snob so I’m mainly talking about the core six). To end on a high note, the main riff to “Spinebender” is fucking sick. Weird, emotive and with tons of personality. I can definitely get lost in that one. 3.5/5
Until just recently, I never really had the appeal for industrial metal. I thought it was an overrated mainstream metal genre like alt-metal, with the invasion of bands like Ministry and Rammstein. Now I can see where its heavier background lies, when I was pulled into listening to Strapping Young Lad during my run through Devin Townsend's discography. This band has started my quest to dig into industrial metal's heavier background for bands like Fear Factory and the genre's true pioneers, Godflesh! But for now, Strapping Young Lad's Alien is the follow-up to their self-titled comeback album and, unlike other bands' fourth albums, is of higher quality instead of lower. Their extreme industrial metal is punishing throughout 9 of its 11 tracks. The humans within this decimating machine include drummer Gene Hoglan, guitarist Jed Simon, bassist Byron Stroud, and Devin Townsend who also plays guitars while screaming with a bit of clean vocals. They level up the music with pulverizing drumming and searing riffing while fantastic lyrics fuel the fire and fury. Already I think this is the best album of their tenure! It has heavy anger and emotional power. Alien is probably my new best of 2005. No matter the craziness, you must hear this!
Yeah, those other 7 songs are some of the best industrial metal tracks I've listened to, but the album's perfection was ruined by those two stinkers and that caused me to vote for Godflesh's Streetcleaner (also 4.5 stars and I respect it as the starting album of the industrial metal genre) in the DIS vs DAT Sphere Thread: https://metal.academy/forum/15/thread/354?page=1#topic_5375
I've just listened to and reviewed both of those 1989 Sphere albums, and I consider them both great 4.5-star releases that help pioneer industrial metal. But the one I prefer is... Godflesh's Streetcleaner! Yeah, I definitely agree about Godflesh's debut having premiered the entire genre and being their finest hour. That Ministry album is a great classic too; most of the songs in that album are perfect and would've made my real entryway into industrial metal...if it weren't for two meddling stinkers towards the end that made the rating plummet slightly lower than that Godflesh album. With that, Godflesh makes my vote!
I thought I'd make it easy on everyone by listing the major candidates for The Sphere's "2020 Release Of The Year" & "2020 Cover Art Of The Year" awards in case any of you are interested in doing some late exploration:
Aussie Mick Gordon's epic four hour industrial metal soundtrack for the "Doom Eternal" video game.