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Group Members: Justin Broadrick
All Music Guide:
If Black Sabbath was reborn as an industrial rock band, they'd probably sound an awful lot like Godflesh. Therefore, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Godflesh hails from the same hometown as Sabbath, the tough steel-welding town of Birmingham, England. Although a few other members passed through the Godflesh ranks over the years, the band's undisputed leader was guitarist/singer Justin Broadrick, who was present since the group's inception. Broadrick was influenced early on by heavy metal, as well as such experimental groups as Can (and Lou Reed's 1975 noisefest, Metal Machine Music). As a result, Broadrick helped form grindcore pioneers Napalm Death at the age of 15. But after the release of their landmark 1987 debut recording, Scum, Broadrick quickly grew bored with the group's one-dimensional direction, and exited.
Broadrick's next project, Head of David, still followed in the same harsh grindcore path as his previous band; although he exchanged his guitar for a set of drums. But like Napalm Death, Broadrick quickly grew tired of Head of David; a telltale sign that his days were numbered with the group is when his bandmates supposedly took a liking to Whitesnake (!). After a pair of releases (1986's LP and 1988's Dustbowl), he departed Head of David, and sought to form a new group that would be even more musically extreme and experimental. That group would be Godflesh.
Teamed up with bassist Ben Green and an Alesis-16 drum machine (which was eventually replaced several years later by an actual human, Ted Parsons), Godflesh unleashed a pair of releases that sounded unlike anything at the time: the 1988 EP Godflesh and 1990's full-length, Streetcleaner. These releases may not sound as extreme nowadays, but Godflesh was one of the first bands to merge metal with industrial, helping to pave the way for countless copy-cat acts. A healthy buzz began to build around the band, especially in the music press, as many thought Godflesh would become the next big thing. More accessible industrial metal bands beat them to the punch however (Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, etc.), as Godflesh never broke out of "cult" status, despite issuing further EPs and full-lengths (1992's Pure, 1994's Selfless, 1996's Songs of Love and Hate, and 1999's Us and Them) throughout the '90s.
Godflesh's very first best-of compilation, In All Languages, was issued in 2001, yet the early 21st century saw Godflesh enter a tumultuous period, when Green exited the group shortly after the release of a new studio album, Hymns, the same year. Although a replacement bassist was announced (former Killing Joke/Prong member Paul Raven), Broadrick announced Godflesh's dissolution during the spring of 2002. As a final thank you to longtime fans, Broadrick decided to re-release an expanded edition of Godflesh's ultra-rare 1994 EP, Messiah, in 2003. In addition to his work with Godflesh, Broadrick headed two now-defunct record labels (Head Dirt and Lo Fibre); produced other artists; and also found time for a few side projects, such as Final and Techno Animal, among others.
Godflesh are an industrial metal band from Birmingham, England. They were formed in 1988 by Justin Broadrick (guitar, vocals, and programming) and G.C. Green (bass) and disbanded in 2002. Godflesh's innovative music is widely regarded as a foundational influence on industrial metal and post-metal. Broadrick and Green reformed Godflesh in 2010.
Formation (1982–1988) 
In 1982, Green founded Fall of Because (named after a Killing Joke song) with Paul Neville. Broadrick, who had been playing guitar as a member of Napalm Death, joined the group in mid-1985 as drummer and vocalist. He left the band in 1987. Broadrick then spent a couple of years (1986–1988) as a member of Head of David. In 1988, he contacted Green about reforming Fall of Because. Justin decided to take over on guitars and they chose to use a drum machine to help out. They also decided to change their name to Godflesh.
Career trajectory (1989–2001) 
Godflesh established a presence in underground music with albums such as Streetcleaner and Pure, which demonstrated the effectiveness of lo-fi production values in heavy music. A brief flirtation with major label Columbia Records in 1994 for Selfless and the Merciless EP saw the duo take on a more high-end production approach. In 1996 Godflesh released Songs of Love and Hate, which featured the drumming of Bryan Mantia (Guns N' Roses, Primus, Praxis). The next album, Us and Them, released in 1999, saw the group experimenting with a more electronic, drum and bass-oriented sound in which the guitar played a less central role. In 2001 Godflesh released the double album retrospective In All Languages. That same year they released an album of new material, Hymns, which featured the precise drumming of new band member Ted Parsons (formerly of Swans and Prong) and brought the band back to its slow and heavy roots while retaining elements of its experiments with electronica and hip hop.
Dissolution (2002) 
Green left Godflesh in late 2001. The band announced that Green would be replaced by former Killing Joke and Prong bassist Paul Raven. In the interim, however, Broadrick's thirteen-year relationship with his girlfriend dissolved, and Broadrick suffered a nervous breakdown shortly before departing for a tour of the United States. Broadrick recalls the breakdown as a "real Brian Wilson moment" and said that he "felt paralyzed by the stress, which had been building for several months, and I literally couldn't get out of bed. I was numb and couldn't move, so when the car came to pick me up to take me to the airport, I ran and hid at another friend's house in Birmingham."
The canceled tour caused even more problems for Broadrick. Bus companies had been hired; the groups High on Fire and Halo had been booked to support. And everyone who lost money came after Broadrick. "I was getting death threats from the bus company in L.A.", Broadrick said. "I lost close to $35,000, which I did not have at all. I was broke and had to sell my house and pay off all my debt on credit cards. I pretty much did nothing for four months besides drink heavily." On a poster promoting Jesu's first EP Heart Ache, the caption read as follows "Godflesh is dead, long live Jesu."
Broadrick issued a statement about the end of Godflesh:On April 10, 2002, I disbanded Godflesh. This was something I had painfully been pondering since GC Greens' departure from the band in Oct 2001. Regrettably it took until the day of leaving for a lengthy U.S tour for the realization to finally take its toll on me. Unfortunately the finality of the decision and the responsibilities of making the decision proved too much for me to bare, and I collapsed under the weight. I found that without GC Green, Godflesh is not Godflesh, and him leaving proved to be an omen for me. I also feel that everything we originally intended or even imagined with Godflesh we have done. My only regret has been the hurting of both remaining band members Ted Parsons and Paul Raven, and disappointing those that believe in Godflesh worldwide... In the near future, my new rock project Jesu will surface. So this is by no means the end of my songwriting/guitar/vocalizing. Simply the end of a chapter. Endless gratitude to all those that have believed in and supported Godflesh throughout the 14 year history. You know who you are... Long live the new flesh...
Reunion (2010–present) 
In November 2009, a reunion show was officially announced for the 2010 edition of the Hellfest Summer Open Air (Clisson, France).
Asked in a February 2010 interview about Godflesh's future, Broadrick replied, "Godflesh will not commit to anything but Hellfest currently. I am unsure as to where we will go from there, if we go anywhere at all." He also revealed that the band will not rule out the possibility of new material.
Godflesh played at the 2010 Supersonic Festival in Birmingham, UK on 23 October, co-headlining with Swans. They appeared at the 2011 edition of the Roadburn festival at the 013 venue in Tilburg, Holland, where they performed their first album, Streetcleaner, in its entirety.
In December 2010, Broadrick told Decibel magazine that the band is slowly putting together ideas for a new studio album. He explained, "It's something we're discussing all the time, and I do have bits and pieces of material. But it's something we'd really like to develop. It'd be quite easy to knock out eight to 10 in-character songs and release it as quickly as possible to capitalize on the popularity of the group, but it would feel entirely wrong. If it's another two years until another Godflesh record, so be it. The most important thing is making a record that stands up with the rest of the back catalogue. I do have this in me again, though."
In April 2012, Broadrick confirmed in the April/May edition of Rock-A-Rolla magazine that a new album is in the works: "We intend to release a new album, most likely in 2013, and to record it in late 2012. Probably an EP will come before the album. We will be taking our time with this album, we are not taking it 'lightly'." Godflesh performed as headliners at the 2012 Maryland Deathfest on May 25, 2012. It was their first North American performance in about 17 years.
Godflesh played at Roadburn Festival 2013 in Tilburg, Holland, featuring Robert Hampson on guitar for part of the set. They performed their album Pure in its entirety.
Collaborators and side projects 
Several other musicians have recorded and played live with Godflesh. Paul Neville rejoined Broadrick and Green for the Streetcleaner and Slavestate albums. Robert Hampson, former guitarist for Loop, appeared on Pure and Cold World. (In 1991 Loop released the split 7" single Loopflesh covering the Godflesh song "Like Rats" while Godflesh performed Loop's "Straight to Your Heart".)
Members of Godflesh have been involved in numerous side projects, allowing them to explore interests in other musical genres, including electronica, ambient, dub, industrial hip-hop, and digital hardcore. Broadrick has collaborated with Kevin Martin and Alec Empire, among others. Broadrick's other active projects include Jesu and Final.
Musical style 
Drawing influence from power electronics forefathers Whitehouse, noise rock band Swans, ambient music creator Brian Eno and fellow Birmingham heavy metal band Black Sabbath, Godflesh were among the pioneers of industrial metal. Godflesh have also been described as post-metal and experimental metal.
Godflesh is known for their unique mixture of drum machine beats with droning, discordant guitar and powerful, intermittent bass. On their earlier albums, the rhythms, synths, and samples are credited to "Machine" or "Machines". Later, Godflesh made use of human drummers Bryan Mantia and Ted Parsons. Their eerie, slow, and repetitive style is commonly described as "apocalyptic". The Godflesh sound was once described as "Pornography-era Cure on Quaaludes".
Broadrick's vocals are often guttural, making use of something akin to the death grunt technique, yet they also at times show a softer, more melodic side, as in "I Wasn't Born to Follow" from 1992's Pure. Godflesh lyrics are terse, cryptic, and bleak, often emphasizing duality or opposition. Paranoia and martyrdom are also common themes in Godflesh's music and cover art.
Broadrick has also taken inspiration from Leonard Cohen; both artists have albums titled Songs of Love and Hate. In the song "Mothra" (from Pure), Godflesh borrows the lyrics "Your pain is no credential here / It's just the shadow of my wound" from the song "Avalanche" on the aforementioned Cohen album.
Godflesh has been cited as an influence by Korn, Metallica, Danzig, Faith No More, Fear Factory, Converge, Isis, Pitchshifter, and Ministry, among others. Justin Broadrick was asked to join Danzig and Faith No More as a band member full-time, but Broadrick wanted to focus on Godflesh.
Cinematic connections 
The image on the front of 1988's Godflesh is a still from the cult 1966 John Frankenheimer film Seconds. The image on the cover of Streetcleaner is a still from the movie Altered States, a 1980 horror film by director Ken Russell in which the film's protagonist, played by William Hurt, explores other states of consciousness with the aid of hallucinogens and an isolation chamber. Photos from the insert sleeve for the album are taken from David Lynch's Eraserhead (another major influence cited by Broadrick). The cover of Merciless is a still from the 1943 experimental film Meshes of the Afternoon.
Godflesh showed the video for "Crush My Soul" (by Andres Serrano) to Kirk Hammett and he loved it. Metallica later used a piece of footage by Serrano for their cover on the album Load. In a later interview with Hammett, he is asked where the band got the idea of the cover. Hammett tells the interviewer that he saw something on television about Andres Serrano and that is how it came about, not giving any credit to Godflesh. Justin says, "There's no copyright on Serrano. We'll be the first to admit that. But we planted the seed, and unfortunately we're not getting the credit, obviously." Hammett once gave Broadrick a custom Fender Stratocaster after his was stolen on tour, and has commended the band by stating that they are the "heaviest band in existence".
After Earache merged with Sony (Columbia), Godflesh began appearing on soundtracks. In 1995, they appeared on the soundtrack to the movie Hideaway. They also appeared in the movie itself. During one of the club scenes, they are playing onstage in the background, performing the song "Nihil".