Review: Godflesh Traverse Familiar Roads on Purge
The first thing one notices about Purge, the first album in six years from industrial metal pioneers Godflesh, is that the album title is one letter different from their 1992 classic, Pure. Despite the 31-year and seven-album gap, Purge attempts to pick up where Pure left off, utilizing hip-hop beats and other such techniques to expand on the ideas laid down then. Unlike its spiritual predecessor (and 2017’s killer Post Self), Purge is a lackluster effort that presents good ideas but fails to expand on them.
Purge is definitely a Godflesh album. The stylistic trappings of the band—thick, churning riffs alongside a mechanical drum machine and Justin Broadrick‘s yell-screamed vocals buried in there—are all here. With their ninth album, Godflesh do a good job of recalling the tones and general vibe of Pure but oftentimes that’s all the album has.
The eight tracks presented are a mixed bag. A few in particular stand out. ”Land Lord” utilizes a needling guitar line that disrupts the murky chugs and cold, robotic feeling of the drum machine and “Lazarus Leper” is marked by a stabbing drum machine and discordant guitar notes. “Mythology of Self” hears Broderick break out the almost-death growls and closer “You Are the Judge, the Jury and the Executioner” is an eight-minute industrial-shoegaze slowburn that recalls Jesu.
The problem with the other half of Purge isn’t that it’s bad—it just feels lethargic and uninspired. “Nero,” the album’s only promotional single, sounds like paint-by-numbers Godflesh and “Army of Non” quickly wears out its welcome when the novelty of repeatedly hearing “Check it out, y’all” disappears.
It’s nearly impossible to recapture lightning in a bottle, or even just the everyday circumstances of three decades ago, which often means that Purge fails to live up to its self-imposed legacy. Purge feels like a weak point in Godflesh’s discography, especially after 2017’s diverse and intense Post Self saw the duo explore ground familiar and unfamiliar. There’s still plenty to dig your teeth into on Purge, particularly if you’re a believer that Pure was Godflesh operating at peak form, but it hardly feels like an essential entry in their discography.
Godflesh’s Purge is out today via Avalanche Recordings.