At this stage in the game, Justin Broadrick’s name is synonymous with extreme music’s formative years, it’s ongoing progression to the present and, presumably, its distant future as long as his old ticker holds up its end of the bargain. His bonafides under the Godflesh guise are unfuckwithable, regardless of what regard in which you hold Jesu: Streetcleaner, Pure, Songs of Love and Hate, Hymns and the knowledge that he and long time co-conspirator G.C. “Benny” Green are ground zero for an entire subgenre.
Since reconvening in 2009, Broadrick and Green continue to offer up quality sonic bludgeoning in the form of the A World Lit Only By Fire album, the Decline and Fall EP and their cover of Slaughter’s “Fuck of Death’ for Decibel magazine’s flexi-disc series, amongst various EPs and re-issues. Post Self is full-length number two since their return and, according to the press material, sees the duo exploring “themes of anxiety, depression, fear, mortality, and paternal/maternal relationships.” This shouldn’t be anything that should come as a ginormous surprise to anyone who’s ever cracked open anything with the Godflesh name on it. What might be a bit more of a twist on the ordinary is the tone and tack taken by the Post Self material. The ten tracks on offer span the width and breathe of the Godflesh oeuvre, sounding as rhythmically calculating and drill-press noisy as early works on the one hand while coming across as more nuanced on the other with bouts of formless amorphousness weaved into various sections.
The album’s first two songs, the title track and “Parasite,” kick off the funereal procession with guitar note bends, discordant note phasing and, in the latter, disfigured and bastardized hip-hop beats that in a just world would get the lardiest of asses off couches everywhere. Both are tracks that are likely to fit in various spots anywhere along the line in the more jarring sides of the Godflesh discography; most appropriately Pure and Selfless. “No Body” has a definite dance floor sensibility, but also chimes in with acerbity at the hand of drums that sound like metallic shards and sustained icy guitar progressions that fall somewhere between the calamity most Godflesh proponents understand, Jesu’s soundscape-y shoegaze and the much underappreciated compositions of Dutch instrumentalists, Kong.
“Mirror of Finite Light” is bleak, dystopian and sounds like it has the power to both soothe crying infants and unsettle nerves in experimental European art films. The mid-album triptych of “Be God,” “The Cyclic End” and “Pre Self” starts off as spacious, wasteland industrial with harrowing, but ambient, sounds caressing like low-grade sandpaper before a pulsing bass drive emerges to give things an almost sensual feel before more sparseness takes over. “Pre Self” itself conjures up images of an isolated, hoodie-clad Broadrick hunched over his guitar in a shadowy bedroom, cradling his axe like a shotgun as he serenades the walls with despondent humming.
“Mortality Sorrow” is like an outtake/interlude from an early/mid 80s Killing Joke album combined with a sci-fi score and expanded to sound like space age suicide whereas “In Your Shadow” takes a definite influence from previous collaborator Kevin Martin, he of God and Ice fame, with its deep bass throttle, borderline hip-hop beats and the hypnotic mood that’s created in its stead.
As a whole, Post Self taps into all eras of Justin Broadrick’s storied career, if even only for brief moments and glimpses. What it does, overall, is summon the sound of overt moroseness as it confronts the darker side of human emotion via a vast expanse of forlorn sounds.