Those of you who actually bothered to digest my superlative-laden review of Ice’s “Bad Blood” a number of weeks ago would already be conscious of my unparalleled love/reverence/knobslobbing of this godly outfit. To those of you who didn’t bother, as I suspect many might, an introduction is in order. Godflesh is the brainchild of one very depraved Justin Broadrick, a former member of seminal grindcore unit Napalm Death, who decided to leave an early incarnation of the legendary merchants of speed and noise for a more sophisticated take on aggressive music. Enter Godflesh, a sublime fusion of the driving guitars, brutal, visceral cacophony of metal and the syncopated, pulsating rhythms/cybernetic bludgeon of industrial electronica. Always vocal of the enduring influence that hip-hop like Public Enemy and Silver Bullet had on Godflesh’s artistic endeavors, influences that would eventually manifest themselves in the abstract art-hop of Ice, Broadrick channeled his love for hip-hop through various Godflesh recordings, including the “Slavestate” EP and this record, his premiere exploration into grisly, sinister hip-hop and twisted dub.
If one were seeking a crude description of this record, it largely sounds like Godflesh sans the scintillating, cyclical, outrageously overdriven guitar riffage and for the most part, the primeval, atavistic screams of Mr Broadrick. This is Godflesh stripped to skeletal form, thrusting the impossibly hypnotic drum programming of Broadrick to the forefront, free from the obscuring effect of the pummeling, molten guitars. Yet for all its stark, unassuming simplicity, this record is absolutely as dark and nauseatingly claustrophobic as anything in the Godflesh catalogue, its unnerving marriage of unearthly, almost subsonic bass, disorienting white noise and profoundly cold, inhuman digital percussion.
It is this inhuman feel that gives all Godflesh material such a brutal, fascinatingly ugly texture- there is absolutely no warmth or optimism in Broadrick’s musical output, a lumbering, ominous maelstrom of doom and decay that will violate and ravage you with wicked abandon. Everything on this record is mixed with a vehement meticulousness so as to achieve the dirtiest, rawest possible effect- the bass is tuned as low as humanly possible, overdriven beyond recognition and turned all the way up in the mix, coagulating around ruthless, monotonous percussion, strangling you into submission as collages of blips and white noise snake menacingly between the minute crevices of each track. It is highly unlikely that music this grotesque and unabashedly punishing has ever sounded this addictive or hypnotic- “Circle of Shit (To The Point Dub)” fuses a mammoth, otherworldly drone of a bassline with a trance-inducing, incessantly repetitious drum pattern that emblazons itself into your consciousness. “Frail” opens with a melancholic, funereal synth melody, paving the way for an absolute headfuck of a track, merging a leviathan bass groove with harsh walls of swirling, gutwrenching white noise and pounding trip-hop breakbeats, excavating huge chasms of hellish, filthy sound that you will willingly wallow in for hours.
Frankly put, it is highly improbable that you have ever heard a beat-based record quite as putrid or infernal as “Love & Hate in Dub.” Absorbing the weightless atmospherics of trip-hop, the breakneck ferocity of breakbeat, the metric structures of hip-hop and the rabid, feral cacophony of industrial metal, this record mutates these distinct components into something wholly dissimilar to its parts, a malevolent and disgusting beast of a record that will lull you into trance-induced complacency, ushering you to impending doom. If you’re open minded, put this on your purchase list now.