Just dug up a couple of copies (less than a five) of this out-of-print orange vinyl 2LP version of the Hymns reissue; it comes with new linter notes from Broadrick, complete lyrics, and a download code for the additional bonus tracks that were featured on the second disc of the double CD version.
While it definitely wasn't the strongest album for Godflesh to go out on prior to their dissolution in 2002, I've never quite understood why the band's sixth album Hymns has gotten knocked around so much. I've always been a fan of Hymns, and with the new comeback album from these industrial metal legends that just came back, we've been going back and re-visiting some of the band's releases that we've never previously had in stock here at C-Blast. The band's sixth album, 2001's Hymns was also Godflesh's first major label release, as well as their first studio album to feature an actual human drummer, in contrast to the drum machines that powered their previous albums. And what a drummer they enlisted for Hymns, none other than Ted Parsons (Swans, Killing Joke, Prong, Teledubgnosis, Treponem Pal, etc.), whose work on classic records like Holy Money was undoubtedly an influence on Godflesh's formative sound back in the 1980s. And their sound was still pretty consistent here, Hymns continuing to mine that dystopian fusion of gloomy post-punk, industrial pummel, distorted breakbeats and abrasive noise that has defined the band's sound.
One thing that Hymns has in spades is groove: Tracks like "Paralyzed" and "Deaf, Dumb & Blind" rattle the walls with monstrous breakbeats and grinding, discordant guitars, locking into a kind of bulldozing, noise-stained funk; ultimately, tracks like these feel do somewhat reductive, lacking some of the formidable apocalyptic power of the band's finest moments, but that stuff is still massively heavy and menacing, barbaric hip-hop-flecked beats pumped full of industrial strength steroids, shambling mechanically over the massive churn of the bass. The more impressive moments on the album are found with moodier tracks like "White Flag" and the twang-laced "Anthem", where Godflesh dial back some of the bone-rattling boom-bap for something a little more melodic, foreshadowing the sort of industrialized shoegazer crush that Broadrick would explore at length with his subsequent project Jesu. "Anthem" in particular stands out as one of the album's best songs, with a huge sweetened hook fused to Broadrick's soaring vocals, the song awash in gleaming synthesizers, and it's here that you can really hear him working with some of the nascent ideas that would develop into Jesu's blissed-out sludge. Another example of that is "Regal", a stunning piece of crushing sludgepop that is one of my favorite Godflesh songs, as well as the titanic droning immensity of the prophetically titled "Jesu" (which features a guest appearance from future Jesu member Diarmuid Dalton of Cable Regime on moog and electronics). There's a great "hidden" track at the end as well, a gorgeous piece of gloomy slowcore that, much like some of the later Jesu stuff, comes across sort of like Codeine on steroids, chiming clear guitars and minimal electronics meshed with plaintive piano over the slow, shuffle of Parsons' drumming, those guitars eventually shifting into distorted heaviness as that gorgeous downcast melody evolves and climbs into heartbroken splendor. And another high point on Hymns is the deathdub monstrosity "Antihuman", splattered with sickening synth squelch, filthy wah-pedal noise that seems to be doing some gross mimicry of turntable scratching, and Broadrick's already guttural roar gets pitch-shifted into an even more ogrish bellow, like some putrid mutation of the early Scorn stuff.
The bonus material features seven demo tracks that had been produced for Hymns, re-mastered and in some cases remixed; this stuff is revelatory, as it suggests a much dirtier, grimier sound that the album might have otherwise had if the label hadn't interfered with the recording process and demanded they use a high-end studio to record their album. The bass on these demo tracks is cranked up to monstrous floor-shaking volume and there's a gritty, blown-out edge on everything, making some of these my favorite versions of the album tracks; songs like "Paralyzed", "For Life" and "Voidhead" certainly all sound meaner and filthier than ever, the latter here transformed into a bone-rattling personal apocalypse. And they cap off the disc with a re-mastered version of "If I Could Only Be What You Want", a killer exercise in murderous malevolent drum n' bass that originally appeared on the Loud Music For Loud People compilation.