Godflesh’s 1992 album Pure is probably the first album that I bought based on reviews alone.
Pure is the sophomore outing by the band, fronted by ex-Napalm Death guitarist Justin Broadrick. Broadrick, who also played guitar on this album, was joined by G.C. Green on bass and Paul Neville, who also played guitar. Unlike many metal bands at the time, machines handled the drumming.
Sometime in 1992, Metal Maniacs declared this album the heaviest album of the year, so I just had to check it out.
When I got my hands on it, I could barely wait to get the plastic off the CD case. What followed was quite a listening experience.
I can’t say I liked Pure right off the bat. Honestly, I had never heard anything like it before. I wasn’t sure if I liked the album, was scared by it or what. I was totally unfamiliar with the band and the genre which they belonged to.
I stuck with it and after repeated listens, I have to say this is one of my favorite albums of that year.
Pure is a challenge to listen to for those unfamiliar with industrial metal. It hits you with the unforgiving beats of a drum machine before the human members shred you apart with guitar and bass.
The album starts out as a bludgeoning assault that doesn’t let up. Until the very end of the album, it’s back-to-back stand-out tracks.
Things kick off with “Spite.” It’s buzzing guitars and monolithic beats, made heavier with corresponding base guitar gives you the proper introduction to what you’re about to experience. It hits like a sledgehammer and basically says “this album isn’t going to let up.”
“Spite” is followed up by “Mothra,” which a music video was made for. “Mothra” continues with the precision beats from the drum machine. I am not sure what the sample is they used, but it begins the song with a sort of insectoid feel. Anyway, “Mothra” is about as groovy as this album gets, with its buzzy guitars and thumping bass, you can’t help but bob your head with it.
“I Wasn’t Born to Follow” is the first clear use of a synthesizer on the album. It is also where Broaderick breaks away from his roars and moans instead. It’s an excellent song that leaves the listener with a rather empty feeling.
“Predominance” hits you like a brick after the slower-paced “I Wasn’t Born to Follow.” This song just tears you apart with bludgeoning force. Broaderick distorts his vocals to make them even more monstrous for the chorus and the guitar just rips into you. This is quite possibly the heaviest song on the album and definitely recommended for metal fans who aren’t too sure about the industrial thing.
Next is “Pure.” And I got to say “oh man, that beat.” The drums start off as almost dance/hip hop, getting you into the groove before the guitars just rip into you. This song is probably my favorite on the album and it really kind of highlights what the experience of listening to it is all about.
“Monotremata” is slow and plodding. Its drums seem to have an even heavier bass to them, thanks largely to working in concordance with the bass guitar. Broadrick’s vocals are pretty clean here, with an echo effect that helps give the song kind of a feeling of being lost in a cavern.
In case you’re wondering “Montermata” are a group of mammals that lay eggs. It consists of the duck-billed platypus and four species of echidna.
So, now you know.
“Baby Blue Eyes” is another song which starts out with the keyboard on the forefront. It is probably the most “industrial” song on the album. The keyboards are ever-present thoughout and the drum machines beat with fast precision. A great song though, one of my favorites on the album.
Now, you can call “Don’t Bring Me Flowers (When I Die)” and “Love, Hate (Slugbaiting)” the final two songs on the album. Now, these aren’t bad songs by any means, but they just don’t reach out and grab you like what preceded them.
Back in the 90s, there was an audio cassette version that ended when “Love, Hate (Slugbaiting)” ended. But, if you owned the CD, there was one more “song” — “Pure II”
Now, you could stop listening at this point and have a pretty fulfilling listening experience. But if you wish to continue, then expect something kind of different.
“Pure II” is not as much a song as it is a collection of sounds which are supposed to reflect the end of the world. It’s 20 minutes long and it does not move fast. It’s utterly slow with plodding percussion here and there, lots of samples and feedback. It will never pick up. It’s an utterly dark thing. My friend Matt upon hearing this when we were teenagers assumed they were “devil worshippers.”
So, is this album worth buying today?
While Godflesh may not be a huge band, the experience they provide with this album is like no other at the time and nothing has really equaled it sense. Pure a unique listening experience that you should try at least once.
And yes, I agree with Metal Maniacs assertion. I think this was the heaviest album in 1992.