Godflesh Hymns

Rock bands sometimes have a turnstile relationship with their drummers, and UK's premiere metallurgists Godflesh are no different. When they hired Brian Mantia to record 1996's Songs Of Love And Hate, it marked the first time the band added organic drums to their tried and true machined beats. But Mantia joined Primus shortly after those recording sessions and Ted Parsons (recently jobless from the dissolution of Prong) was tapped for tour support. Though he didn't appear on their next two studio albums, Parsons now commands all percussion, resulting in Godflesh's most ambitious album yet. Mastermind Justin Broadrick administers equal amounts of rock-based melody ("Defeated," "Paralyzed") and industrial-forged rhythms ("Antihuman," "For Life"), which makes Hymns a less bass-driven, more stripped-down record. Still, he finds plenty of niches into which his beefy guitar hooks are stuffed, demonstrated by the blazing "Deaf, Dumb & Blind" and "Tyrant." The fittingly titled "Anthem" (not a Rush cover) and "Regal" resemble Fear Factory's cover of Head Of David's "Dog Day Sunrise" in theory, but are slower and more deliberate in approach, both tethered by Broadrick's gracious, echoing tenor. The band pauses in the middle of the excellent "Voidhead," while Broadrick wrangles clean vocals around his guitar chords, gradually rebuilding the song to its gently destructive supremacy. "Animals" and "White Flag" sport Herculean bass lines from founding member GC Green, who unfortunately has since left the band; another Prong alum, Paul Raven, is filling those huge shoes well, as one can only imagine how ecstatic Broadrick is to play with ex-members of two of his favourite bands, Swans (Parsons) and Killing Joke (Raven). The stark mechanics of "Jesu" polish off the proceedings but not before Broadrick unplugs for the mellow untitled track at the album's end. Ultimately, Godflesh retain their signature stark simplicity as Hymns expands their rock frontiers. (Music For Nations)