Godflesh Singer Suffers Breakdown, Breaks Up Band

By | May 2, 2002 at 12:00 AM

After 14 years of brain-frazzling albums and concerts, industrial metal pioneers Godflesh have abruptly broken up.

The band was preparing to tour the U.S. with High on Fire and Halo when frontman Justin Broadrick suffered a nervous breakdown just before boarding a flight to San Diego, where Godflesh were scheduled to start their tour April 22, according to a band spokesperson.

“Unable to make the trip, never mind perform a two-month tour, Justin has decided to call it quits. Godflesh is done for,” said a brief note on the band’s Web site.

Godflesh formed in Birmingham, England, in 1988 and pioneered a grinding form of cacophony that combined droning metallic riffs, apocalyptic vocals and clanging drum machines. At a time when such industrial groups as Ministry and Skrew were mixing speed metal dynamics with electronic clamor, Godflesh took a more minimalist approach that emphasized stripped-down, repetitive rhythms and sludgy, surreal guitar lines.

Along the way, the band paved the way for groups like Pitch Shifter and Treponem Pal and inspired a legion of others including Helmet, Korn and High on Fire.

Godflesh’s self-titled 1988 debut assaulted the senses with unrepentant volleys of mechanized noise, setting the stage for the teeth-gnashing 1990 album Streetcleaner. For the next six years, the band followed similar aural avenues, though in 1997 Godflesh – whose members had experimented with ambient techno and dub in side projects that included Ice and Techno Animal – added new grooves and drum’n’bass beats to their songs on Love and Hate in Dub. The approach was driven to its incendiary climax on 1999’s Us and Them.

The band’s final disc, Hymns, was released in October. A fitting epitaph, the disc was a sparser return to the type of visceral grind the band pioneered, without sacrificing the experimentation and electronic tinkering on which it thrived.

While Godflesh are officially extinct, it is unclear how Broadrick’s breakdown will affect his side projects.

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