Godflesh – Slavestate (1991)

Godflesh is one of my favourite bands. Not of all time, because I have not known them “all time”. But, when I finally got my head out my arse and searched for some music that wasn’t grindcore, German techno-porngrind or Sunn O))), I never, ever looked back. Godflesh’s effect on my outlook of music is just as important as Napalm Death’s original input into my perception of music (how ironic it is that both bands are / were so closely related). I was originally going to explain how Godflesh made me learn how horrible noise can be fantastic to listen to, but I guess some areas of grindcore cover that already. And as for learning that music doesn’t have to be 1000mph to be heavy, I can thank Sunn O))), or more traditionally, Sabbath, Cathedral et al. No, what Godflesh did is teach me more about an underlying mood in music. I have always felt moods in music, don’t get me wrong, it is why I feel so close to music in the first place, but to use sounds in such a way that create such a sense of claustrophobia and helplessness is truly an artform.

Slavestate starts off with the title track; pounding 90s dance beats (that Godflesh seem to sneak into a lot of tracks around this era) quickly become dissonant guitars and pummeling drum machines. Rather pacey for a Godflesh track, Broadrick bellows “Fear Factory” over the top of this track as if there was no tomorrow (or any death metal band to instantly start mimicking him ;D). “Perfect Skin” comes on next, mingling brain-bashing drum machines with a glimmering, hopeful synth that nicely counteracts the crushing heaviness of Benny’s bass and Justin’s guitars. It continues to ache away behind the main barrage. If one may divulge into some top notch artsy-imagery; Godflesh is the oil rig, the synth is the beautiful ocean and sunset behind it. Wow that was deep. Ha ha.

On the flipside “Someone Somewhere Scorned” bashes drums into your face like it wants you dead (again first coming on like something you’d hear on the Mortal Kombat soundtrack) before closer “Meltdown” is riff-bendingly good ‘Flesh of old. Chuggachugga Snare! Snare! *Head explodes*. Unlike many Godflesh EPs that would follow Slavestate, I would suggest this to somebody who was unfamiliar with the works of Godflesh. It represents their sound enough but isn’t as introverted and self-hating as later records. Godflesh become more “poppy” from Selfless onwards (disregarding final album Hymns), so Slavestate is a last shining example of their crushing original sound.

A couple of different pressings of this exist, all on Earache of course, but the original contains only the main four songs. The remixes were originally released as a separate 12″ (which I also have here) but on later pressings of Slatestate the speed was cut down to 33rpm and they were bundled onto side B. This is fairly cheap, and the remixes even cheaper, so I recommend you pick it up 😀