Songs Of Love And Hate, the fifth Godflesh album, is as human sounding a record as a band has ever made. But that doesn't necessarily make Justin Broadrick-frontman/guitarist/songwriter-a happy guy. "This album is much more stripped and human than our previous albums," he agrees, "it's a streamlined sort of physical rock record. But the real excitement will be putting it back into the computer to make it more mechanized and alien-sounding."
Broadrick, industrial music's premier guitar player, is now learning hard-disk editing on his Macintosh, and with the help of an eight-track package and Q-Base Audio software, he'll set about remixing the new album without lifting an instrument.
"Passion [in music] is another realm altogether. I love the concept of making things more alien." An original guitarist for the destructo-metal prototypes Napalm Death and later of damaged techno-thrashers Head of David, Broadrick attributes the relative warmth of his new record to the presence of a true, talented, in-the-flesh drummer-Brian Mantia (Primus, Tom Waits, Limbomaniacs). "We were stunned at the effect it had on our sound," says Broadrick, "it pushed us further and helped us enter the realm of a band, if you know what I mean."
A drummer's presence also, perhaps subliminally, altered Broadrick's playing as well. "I haven't been able to put my finger on it, but I seem to be doing more physical playing, less mechanized. And there's a sense of variance on this album that beats every other album we've done, because it's greater in scope. Usually we're very single-minded but this time our sound has opened up and there's almost a sense of song." He chuckles at the irony of Godflesh actually writing "a song."
Not that there aren't machines on the record. Songs Of Love And Hate is still the furious rumble of Godflesh, inheritors of the industrial metal from the original progenitor, Killing Joke. And the record is still a sonic descendent of the 1990 (1989 actually--slate.) breakthrough recording Streetcleaner, industrial metal's most devastating offspring.
"Even now people still come up to me and say, 'Wow, that was the most fucked up album I've ever heard,'" he says, "and people still seem to be catching up with it even now, six years later."
Yet despite his reputation as extreme music's most destructive purveyor, Broadrick feels his music-hypnotic, ritualistic, mesmerizing-has been misunderstood. "[Godflesh] is not extreme to us, it's our lives, it's our form of rock music. It's not as nasty as people think, so we're constantly trying to refresh ourselves and the public's conception of us. We'd really like to reach for a wider audience without pandering to people. Extreme music shouldn't be subjugated as a minor genre."
Broadrick's rig has changed little since those early, proto-extreme days. He remains faithful to his Japanese Stratocaster (tuned down to C sharp) and plugged into an ancient Marshall JCM800. "Each time out I intend to take a quality of my old sound and make it more extreme, to go beyond my standard sound and I think I achieved that this time."
An obsessive fan of all genres of music (just ask him about dub reggae), Broadrick still admits he's learning his instrument. "I never see myself as a technical player. The only thing I'm good at is being imaginative. For me, that technical ability is of no consequence. To me it's pure imagination and how far you can go with it that makes the difference. That's what'll help take you beyond."