Godflesh, the underappreciated legends of British metal and industrial music, have been crafting innovative and boundary-pushing music since their beginnings in an east Birmingham council estate in the late ’80s.
As the band’s ninth album and long-awaited follow-up to 2017’s critically-acclaimed Post Self, Purge has some pretty big shoes to fill. Described by the band as the spiritual successor to 1992’s Pure, on paper at least, this is a set of songs that revisit the group’s dalliance with ’90s hip hop and acid house, but it’s hard to tease these influences out on the record. Mostly, the tracks here sound like layers upon layers of muddy, compressed-to-death guitar pressing down on some misguided turntable scratches. From opener ‘Nero’ all the way to track six, ‘The Father’, this is an album that has you feeling like you’re listening to outtakes from a mid-career Korn record or the soundtrack from a ’00s horror shooter.
Like a Lindt chocolate, though, there is a reward towards the end. Purge closes on a one-two punch that, while not climbing up to the heights of classic Godflesh, at least manages to recall the band at their inventive best. Closer ‘You Are The Judge, The Jury and The Executioner’ is the standout, a brooding slice of throbbing industrial electronica that becomes ever more horrifying and haunting as it builds.
Being generous, this is a record for the die-hards. However, in the grand scheme of things, it’s hard not to feel like Purge is a step backwards from the masterful intensity of Post Self.