Godflesh: Dancing With Fire
[Guitar Magazine Online]


The studio process for post-metal/industrial unit Godflesh was once fairly structured and orderly. But over the past two years, the Birmingham, U.K.-based group has taken a more open-ended approach while working on its new album, Us and Them.

"I think the results were a lot fresher because there was no agenda," says Godflesh's frontman Justin Broadrick. "I just feel freer now. Many bands find their niche and then concentrate on it. We've done that in the past, but I felt it was time to break myself down and question my own values, and not to confine myself to a certain idea that Godflesh should be this or that."

On past efforts like Songs of Love and Hate (1996) and Selfless (1994), Godflesh (whose studio lineup also features bassist G. Christian Green) dabbled with techno, jungle, and hip-hop rhythms mainly as a way to "color" its scorching manifestos. On Us and Them, however, these elements are, as Broadrick puts it, "much more in your face." But Broadrick is no bandwagon jumper. For the past few years, he's explored a range of ambient sounds and breakbeats with various side projects including Techno Animal and Ice.

The production experience pays off on Us and Them. For the brooding intro of Witchhunt, for instance, Broadrick sampled a hip-hop loop at high gain through a filter, then manipulated the filter with Steinberg software Cubase to make the rhythm track sound like it's about to spontaneously combust. "It's just a beat, but [the sound comes from] the way it's being overloaded into the [mixing] desk," Broadrick reports. "It starts off really normal and then [the filter] opens. We use loads of different filtering techniques on every instrument and tons of overloading and saturation levels. The entire album is completely overloaded. When we mixed tunes, everything was in the red. The meters were completely ticking, going as far as humanly possible."

While Godflesh embraces electronic rhythms with a new sense of urgency, the group's primary instrument for creating its disturbing music is still the guitar. And though Broadrick's guitar work on Us and Them isn't as sonically punishing as it is on the pulverizing Streetcleaner (1989) or Slavestate (1991), his highly "mutated" stylings on cuts like I, Me, Mine and Endgames boast new levels of technical innovation, thanks to his new Macintosh-based recording environment. "I could take my guitar work from hard disk and put it into all these crazy electro-acoustic plug-ins and programs like Hyper Prism," he says. "And these programs enabled me to go much further than, say, 10 effects pedals. I'm interested in things that sound alien, things that sound twisted. I often ask myself how I can make things more sick sounding. Sickness is really a big part of our sound."

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