Released: 2001, Koch/Music For Nations
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
The future of Godflesh seemed pretty uncertain considering the huge disappointment of US AND THEM, their previous album. And honestly, I can’t even remember what US AND THEM sounds like. I don’t think I’ve put that on since around the time I reviewed the album for Metal Rules a while back. But I had heard they returned to their old ways with HYMNS, in terms of overall style, but this time with more riffing and a live drummer. Is it true? You bet!
HYMNS is pure Godflesh. Same old simplistic logo. Same old “what the fuck is that supposed to be?” album cover. Same old short and intriguing song titles, like “Defeated”, “Voidhead”, and “White Flag”. And no lyrics. The music is based around Justin and his riffs, which makes the album resemble SELFLESS more than any of their other albums. In fact, HYMNS is the most riff-oriented Godflesh album so far. And although the long passages of guitar screeching and noise are gone, the dissonant riffs are still here. Parts of the album even have that RUDE AWAKENING (Prong’s final album) feel to it. Whether that’s because of drummer Ted Parsons (ex-Prong) or not, I don’t know. But the second track, “Dead, Dumb & Blind”, is a perfect example. And strangely enough, some parts on HYMNS parallel the stylings of rockers Clutch.
And HYMNS sounds much more organic than previous albums. I think this is due to two factors: One, the album is comprised of guitar riffs, and not noise. And two, Ted Parsons provides the drumming. Godflesh has always been given the “industrial metal” tag. It was their drum programming that no doubt gave them half of that title. Godflesh had previously dabbled in live drumming on SONGS OF LOVE AND HATE, but HYMNS is almost devoid of programming. And as much as I dislike drum programming, Godflesh is the only band I listen to that needs it. The music of Godflesh is apocalyptic and cold, and drum programming adds that mechanical, cold feel the music deserves. But regardless, Ted respects what Godflesh is about and does a damn fine job behind the kit, as usual.
What else can I say? I am impressed with this album. It’s nice to hear this band get back to making the great music they’re known for. It’s not STREETCLEANER PART 2, but it’s a hell of a lot closer than US AND THEM was. The only thing I wish they would have done, besides keeping the drum programming, is dirtying up the production a little more, or making the guitar and bass more distorted. Anyways, if you are a fan, do yourself a favor and check out HYMNS. Meanwhile, allow your flesh to crumble at http://www.godflesh.com