Album Review: Godflesh – Streetcleaner (2010)

This is far from a lazy cash-in from Justin Broadrick, even if it does tie in neatly with his decision to re-ignite Godflesh after eight years. Streetcleaner never got the production it really deserved. Whilst not necessarily the finest Godflesh release (in my opinion, anyway), it’s arguably the one with the most primitive negative energy seething within it–a quality which, due to the way the album was produced at the time, could be sensed but never really felt.

This re-mastered addition does exactly what it needs to. As “Like Rats” kicks in, the impact is instant–it’s fuller, louder–the thud and rumble of drum machine and bass guitar feels more naturally intertwined, whilst Justin’s guitar spews a mixture of riffs, harmonics and those torturous dissonant leads in a thicker stream of noise over the top. It’s fantastic to re-discover these compositions in this way, with the infamous “Christbait Rising” and original album closer “Locust Furnace” standing out as particularly powerful products of the re-mastering process. Accompanying the first disc is a collection of practice sessions, live recordings and early versions of Streetcleaner cuts, including an extended jammed-out rehearsal of “Pulp” and a fascinating instrumental demo of “Dead Head,” the latter of which sounds like a one-take bedroom recording, with the guitar loud and clear enough to reveal some intricacies that are actually lost on the album version.

There were rumours that this re-release would consist of Justin re-recording the guitar parts for Streetcleaner–something he was quick to dismiss as “nonsense.” Thank goodness for that. Streetcleaner documents the mindset of a very angsty, single-minded teenager–to expect him to recapture the same emotion over 20 years later (particularly considering the rather soulless and flimsy nature of his Jesu material of late) is completely ridiculous. What Justin has managed to do here is leave the intent and ideology of the release entirely untouched, using this re-master to merely enhance it and offer the production that teen Broadrick no doubt strived for at the time.

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