So this is what the end-times look like, eh? We live in an age where clean water, organic food, and simple shelter costs a premium. A world where wars are still waged in the name of money and God, forests are plowed and industrial parks are erected, and in America, where a livable wage is becoming less of a reality because we decided, “Hey, corporations are people, too!” These are depressing times, my friends, and we need something to fulfill a long-dormant spirit that has been slumbering for too damn long. We crave the soundtrack to a world going quickly to shit. We need Godflesh back, and man, do they deliver with their first full-length in 13 years, the aptly-titled A World Lit Only By Fire.
Rather than lull you into a dreamworld ala Hymns or Justin Broadrick’s post-Godflesh vessel, Jesu, they channel the ferocity of Streetcleaner with a much, much better production and a renewed sense of urgency. “Dark New Ages” is extremely punishing and completely unforgiving in its delivery. Justin hasn’t sounded this angry musically or vocally in forever, and combined with GC Green’s lurching bass lines and tone, this is such an incredibly dark, dire, and absolutely welcome return to form. There’s no peace, no forgiveness, and no compromise, and that’s how it should be, folks.
And with a couple of exceptions, the relentless battery doesn’t let up for the entirety of A World Lit Only By Fire. “Curse Us All” is at once both danceable and testosterone-boosting. “Deadend” delivers Killing Joke intensity with some much-needed filth and grime. Speaking of Killing Joke, “Life Giver Life Taker” sees Broadrick channeling Jaz Coleman vocally and Geordie Walker musically, all while being unflinchingly Godflesh. And it wouldn’t be a proper Godflesh album without an epic closing psalm for the downtrodden, and “Forgive Our Fathers” continues this storied legacy, lumbering through the majority of its seven minutes before finally giving you peace of mind in the song’s final minute and a half.
With this much punishing dirge and crushing heaviness, surely there isn’t much to find fault, is there? My only beef is with some of the pacing on here. I’m all for some good atmosphere to break up the thickness a bit, but it feels like “Tower of Emptiness” could have been placed elsewhere on the album instead of right before “Forgive Our Fathers,” as it just slows things down a bit too much at the end. It’s definitely nitpicking here, as otherwise, this is what I’ve been wanting to hear since word got out of their reunion just two years ago, and is quite honestly one of the band’s best albums.
We’ve had a lot of damn good reunion albums come out over the last few years, but A World Lit Only By Fire easily ranks up there as among the very best. This is the sound of two men heralding the end of the world, marching to their own heavily programmed drum, and we can’t be more thankful if we tried. Pure and unforgiving, this is what Godflesh had to bring to the world, for us and for themselves. Welcome back.