Loveletter: Justin Broadrick


28 oct. 2008, 6h06m

So "Xynobis", the song that my screenname/e-mail address/neighboring street is named after just came on my 'My Top Rated' playlist, so I might as well just make it official and get this over with.

I'd been putting this off for literally months (which is so nerdy and OCD that it's downright shameful), but this marks the 1,000th Godflesh song to be registered to my account. Do I win a free scratch card or something? Of course not. But it's good to have one of my favorite bands be the first to break the four-digit playcount.

Justin Broadrick, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Fuck, let's just count the bands, for starters. Haven't you been in a million of them? There's the obvious favorite Godflesh, and your prolifically delicious work in Jesu. And what about that time you helped found the first (and best) grindcore outfit of all time, ]Napalm Death? I was going to tag it as Napalm fucking Death, since they obviously kick that much ass, but wanted the tag to actually direct people here. You may have only played on side one of their first record, but still...the point was made.

Besides your 'big three', there's your lesser-known, early work drumming in Head of David, which, if successful, could have prevented all the aforementioned bands from ever getting off the ground. Can't say I'm disappointed that your HoD albums weren't flying off the shelves, Justin. I'm semi-familiar with your ambient project, Final, which is somehow even more depressing than your gloomiest days in Godflesh. Still love it, though (how could I not?). Th fact that you have an experimental electronica-gone-rap project, and the supplementary fact that is named fucking Techno Animal is just the bees-knees, sir. I've never actually listened to your most experimental act, ICE, but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and assume that it kicks ass just like everything else you do. As for your remixes, duets, joint projects and one-offs (most recently, the experimental but rewarding work with Jarboe, J2), I have yet to hear one I didn't like.

So JK Broadrick, boy with the immaculate ear (and hands, and esophagus, and pitchshifter), we all know anything you touch turns to gold. But the metal that shines brightest--or grimiest, in your case--is naturally Godflesh. I first got into Godflesh by buying their phenomenal greatest hits collection, In All Languages on a whim three years ago. Godflesh was a name I'd been hearing (well, more like reading) for years, and I guess I just felt the urge to finally check them out. I ordered the cd off of Amazon (and nothing else, a rarity for me), and for some reason, I couldn't wait to get the damn thing! As soon as it arrived, I popped the first disc, (aptly titled, 'Flesh of God') into my iTunes, ripped it, and listened to it.

It wasn't until around track five or six (Pure material, 1992) that something really struck me. I think it was the drums that did it. Best drums ever played by non-human hands, in my opinion. I distinctly remember walking around the streets of London that Christmas, totally unable--and happily unwilling--to get the programmed clicks to "Mothra" out of my head. But besides the rump-shaking rhythms ("Godflesh is nihilism you can dance to." - me), there was the guitar. Who could ignore that guitar? Nobody quite plays the guitar like Justin, do they? He has it all: jackhammer riffs, melodic breaks, heartwrenching ambient stretches, and depressing sways that just-forgive me--crush my soul. Make me feel. The guitar on songs like "Mothra", "I, Me, Mine" and (especially) "Xynobis" lodged themselves in my brain and didn't leave for months. To make a tepid comparison, as soon as I'd listened to In All Languages a few dozen times, I thought to myself, "This is what I always wished Nine Inch Nails sounded like!".

I should also point out that while those repetetive riffs are still a highlight for me, I eventually discovered that the ace up Broadrick's sleeve is actually his more organic playing. The riffs on songs like "Streetcleaner" and "Christbait Rising" are catchy, for sure, but what really drives them over the edge is the grating noise on top. The fact that he was able to go from industrial apocalyptic noise to the melodic, almost tender stretches on songs like "The Internal" (the kind of song that proves angels do exist) shows a tremendous amount of vision and growth in the artist.

Soon after, I couldn't stop buying up Godflesh albums. I've almost completed his discography now, three embarrassingly long years after I first got into the group. I'm only missing a few EPs and dub remix albums (plus that rare Messiah record, which is supposedly one of the best things the man has ever put to record). So thirty-six months, eight albums and 1,000+ plays later, what does Godflesh mean to me? That's the $35,000 question, isn't it?

Leaving out the chief musical components--the beautiful guitar and drum work, as well as Broadrick's overlooked singing/screaming and lyrical content--I think what really makes Godflesh 'matter' to me is some unspoken connection. Since I was 14, I've had bands I've been totally in love with (Nirvana, Isis, ABBA) and bands that I've obsessed over (Tool, Slayer, Fugazi), but Godflesh might be the only band that I just clicked with like no other. Difficult to explain. For example, sometime in 2007 it dawned on me that Justin Broadrick fits the bill of "my favorite musician". Nobody asked me that question, I wasn't even listening to his music at the time, but I just realized, very clearly, that good ol' JK is like the ubermensch of my music world. He just does it for me.

Unlike any of the metal bands I like, his bands have nothing to do with identity. Godflesh is not hip, or a brand, or even that 'cool', even in metal circles (generally-speaking), but to me, he's like the man at the middle of the table in the Last Supper. That's another reason why Godflesh is dear to me: I started listening to Justin's music at a time where he naturally bridged so many gaps between bands. Since I was tripping heavily on sludge metal at the time, I could easily see where many of my favorite bands got their best ideas in Godflesh. And since then, I've rearranged entire wings of my personal music taxonomy around Justin and those that have followed in the wake of his Streetcleaner.

So anyway, that's more than anyone ever wanted to know about me and my man Justin. Here's to 1,000 plays, old chap, and hoping for thousands more.

P.S. In the original draft, I forgot to include a photo from when I actually got to meet the guy last Halloween! Jesu played an (I think) sold-out show at the Marquis Theater on 10/31/07. As soon as the show was over, I approached Justin on the stage, tried not to gush all over him, and asked him for a photo. He kindly obliged, and even complimented me on my corpsepaint! Dream come true, man.


  • TheHumanLobster

    You said it better than I ever could have. You definitely need to check out God and Ice, though - if Streetcleaner is what Hell sounds like, God's "Possession" album is what it sounds like in the lair of Satan himself. Very powerful, trippy stuff.

    7 nov. 2008, 20h53m
  • TheHumanLobster

    oh also

    7 nov. 2008, 20h54m
  • jkbones

    So true! Long live the Flesh! (And truly most JKB - he is an amazing talent.)

    16 nov. 2008, 13h39m
  • Drystonefeed

    GREYMACHINE, White Static Demon, Council Estate Electronics. Three more to enjoy now or soon. And ignore Lortagreb, he is clearly a cunt.

    24 avr. 2009, 18h44m
  • WerBack

    Be-a-uti-ful journal, man! I just love it.

    28 nov. 2009, 13h26m
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