††This crucial early 90s industrial metal classic is now available from Century Media as a deluxe gatefold double LP, packaged with a huge foldout poster and two printed inserts.
††Everyone's pretty much in agreement that Godflesh's Streetcleaner is one of the true high-water marks of extreme music; one only has to look at the far reaching influence that album's grinding slow-motion industrial dirge metal has had on legions of bands that followed, everyone from Fear Factory to Korn to Neurosis and The Bug have referenced the fearsome apocalyptic feel and mechanical grooves of that watershed album. But it's the subsequent album Pure and the EPs and remix 12"s that came out in the wake of Streetcleaner that revealed how multi-faceted and forward-thinking Godflesh's music really was, exploring the fusion of electronic music and extreme metal even further, experimenting with techno, rock-based songwriting, ambient music and shades of the distortion overloaded ethereal qualities of the early 90's shoegaze sound, the latter of which foreshadows Justin Broadrick's later post-Godflesh work with Jesu after the turn of the century.
††Though the band was often lumped in with the burgeoning grindcore/death metal scene coming out of the UK in the late 80's, Godflesh were obviously an entirely different sort of beast, much more indebted to early British industrial music and the massive bone-crushing dirge of NYC's Swans than the thrash-influenced sounds of grindcore, and this became even more clear with the release of 1992's Pure. With an expanded lineup that now featured Robert Hampson from UK hypno-rockers Loop on guitar, Pure would feature some of the band's most accessible songs, as well as some of their most abstract and experimental, the ten tracks moving between crushing Swans-influenced mecha-dirge, old school hip-hop breakbeats, corrosive industrial textures, and ethereal rock qualities that makes it pretty clear that Broadrick and company was paying attention to the way that bands like My Bloody Valentine and other underground UK rock bands were experimenting with distortion, volume and melody. You have one of the few "hits" that Godflesh ever had, the mighty industrial rock of "Mothra", as well as the crushing, spacey industrial hip-hop/metal hybrid of "Spite", but then there's the final track "Pure II", a sprawling twenty-one minute feedback/ambient noise epic that expands on the early industrial drone work that Broadrick was doing in his pre-Godflesh band Final. The simple but punishing sludgy guitars and massive bass of the early Godflesh releases hadn't gone anywhere, but now they were welded to a mix of absolutely DESTRUCTIVE industrial breakbeats and pounding grooves. Still intensely heavy and bleak and dystopian in feel, no doubt about it, but with this album Godflesh was beginning to evolve into a much more accessible and downright catchy force. One of my favorite 'Flesh songs ever, "Spite" could pass for a super-heavy rock song if it weren't for the inhuman breakbeats and incredibly distorted/down tuned guitars, and there's even a wailing hard rock solo that erupts towards the end of the song. "Mothra" was one of Godflesh's more popular songs, one of the closest things to a single the band ever had (with a video that got a surprising amount of airplay on MTV back when Pure came out). Another favorite of mine is "Love, Hate (Slugbaiting)", which begins with several minutes of sampled industrial noise (which was actually taken from a live recording of Broadrick's old band Fall Of Because) before morphing into a massive dreamy metallic dubscape filled with pneumatic rhythms, swells of orchestral feedback, and icy ethereal vocals.