An early member of Napalm Death before becoming a pioneer of industrial metal with Godflesh, Head Of David and countless other projects, Justin Broadrick has spent over 35 years forging a diverse career as one of the most underrated metal and electronics. the musicians.
With Godflesh back on stage and performing live in London this week, we asked Justin to pick the ten songs that have most defined his life in music. Those were his choices…
1. Death by Napalm – Scum (Scum, 1987)
“Probably the best song I’ve written in Napalm Death. The music that is; the lyrics are all by Nic Bullen, except for one song on the A side of Foam. I remember we were the laughingstock of most at firstFoam, but it was one of the first songs where I vividly remember people responding with their jaws open. One of my best riffs from the era is on the A side of Foam, and it’s well-structured for a streamlined attack, of course inspired by Celtic Frost. We were very young, so this concept of crossing the aggro blast beats of Siege with the early Celtic Frost/Hellhammer was kind of literal!
But, there was so much more to Napalm Death. The two demos we did before, one without Mick Harris, but with original drummer Rat (Miles Ratledge) had a wider scope as indicated by Killing Joke/Amebix/Throbbing Gristle/Swans as much as the thrash scenes/ booming metal and punk. of the time, and Foam always had that crucible context. Nic and I were obsessed with noise music; power electronics/industrial music, the noise on Foam was intentional and thoughtful.
A fact often overlooked here is that we were so young; I was 16 when I was writing the music for the A side of Foam, some songs were written at 15! I really wouldn’t have had a career in music if John Peel wasn’t a fan of Napalm Death and Head Of David and to this day I’m extremely proud of what we achieved with the A side of Foam, but ironically my favorite Napalm Death music is without me. This is their first John Peel session, one of my favorites! »
2. Godflesh – Like Rats (Streetcleaner, 1989)
“For some, the only Godflesh song they know. Of course, we’re somewhat defined by it, and it’s a weird concoction of 80s mechanized industrial hell, but with guitars. It was the first time I really used offbeat vocals, which I wasn’t aware of that almost anyone was consuming at that time, and for me that decision was directly influenced by Pinhead in hellraiserwith of course a little Darth Vader, one of my childhood heroes.
The main chorus line was taken from American no wave band No Trend, on their amazing track too many humans. Totally nihilistic hatred of oneself and everything; I wrote this song when I was just 19 in early 1989, which may give some an idea of where I was as a teenager!
But this song, in many ways, was a convergence of what I was trying to achieve at the time with Godflesh by hybridizing primal metal with punk/post-punk/no wave and industrial music, which we filtered down to through a wave of grime and low tuned guitar/bass. Even the drum machine was layered and tuned… that aspect was influenced by 80s hip hop – heavy as fucking drum machines!”
3. Jesu – Tired of Me (Jesu, 2003)
“Written and recorded while going through both the Godflesh breakup and with a longtime partner at the time. I was literally very, very tired of myself and my responses at this time; I had given up many times , because I often do.
This song painfully documents this period very well and is one of my favorite songs I have ever written. Jesu’s debut album documented long-term emotional and cerebral pain; I was “waking up” more during this time, for myself and for those around me, reaching my early 30s, asking myself “why?” on every level and never getting answers, constantly suffering from emotional and sensory overload, and not understanding why.
A lot of my music and lyrics are autobiographical; it’s my way of trying to understand what can’t be understood, and trying to translate and convey the feeling of being overwhelmed that I’ve always been smothered in and felt very alone in . I only have some understanding of why now, due to the fact that I was recently diagnosed with autism, so I’m learning now that almost all of my art has been influenced by my condition, and this song shows enough well certain aspects; overwhelmed and vanquished…”
4. Head of David – Dog Day Sunrise (Dustbowl, 1988)
“Head Of David are one of my favorite bands of all time; Ben Green (Godflesh) and I often discuss how they should have been one of the greatest alternative rock bands of all time, but for many reasons, it imploded.
The best album they did was their first, it was without me, and good for him haha. But, when I arrived, we made a great album – dust bowl, and it’s one of the best songs we’ve written for the album. It was pretty fantastic that he was finally recognized thanks to Fear Factory having him covered.”
5. Techno Animal – Cruise Mode 101 feat. Rubberoom (The Brotherhood of the Bomb, 2001)
“We suffered from terrible timing with this album. Maybe it could have had a better chance of exposure if it hadn’t been called Brotherhood of the Bomb‘ (which we took from the 2nd Planet of the Apes movie where they discover that monkeys worship a nuclear bomb – unbelievable). Its release date coincided with the horror of 9/11.
But, this song particularly distills what Kevin and I were trying to do at the time; hell-heavy hip-hop with the excesses of 90s drum n bass and the no-frills approach to 80s industrial music, coupled with the energy of the RUBBERROOM rappers who at the time had this crazy Public Enemy turned mental x 100 thing going on.
This track is pure energy and one of the best we’ve ever done on this project. Fortunately, Relapse Records is fully behind a re-release program of all of our Techno-Animal releases that we deem suitable for re-release; they are now remastered and in the process of finishing art etc…
6. Finale – My Body is a Dying Machine (My Body is a Dying Machine, 2010)
“Little known no doubt, but that doesn’t matter of course; it’s one of my favorite pieces of music I’ve ever written and performing it live and really loud has always been transcendental for me; the pain would be lessened by the joy. It’s surprising what a sample of The Monkees can accomplish emotionally when cut and thrown and a myriad of other treatments applied, paired with simplistic soaring guitars.
It was also a musical record of my own body which was collapsing at the time from excessive alcohol abuse; my body was finally rejecting it and warning me to stop the abuse….Final is basically an ambient music project, often ignored in the grand scheme of things, but it’s the first music I’ve made around 1984 when I was a kid and it started out as electronic/industrial music with a dear old friend of mine, Andy Swan. Even Nic Bullen was there at the start!
It eventually became a solo project for me that was shelved in the mid 80s but reborn in the early 90s and has been around ever since. Luckily my latest music from this project has been getting some attention lately, so I’m lucky now that people are starting to listen in slightly larger numbers. Interested people should check out this song, but also the latest releases He comes to all of us andExpect nothing and the kingdom is yours.”
7. JK Flesh – In Your Pit (In Your Pit, 2009)
“I’ve released a lot of music under the name JK Flesh, it’s basically a vehicle for totally electronic heavy rhythm oriented music. It started out more industrial and eventually morphed into a form of techno that’s informed by dub, noise, drum n bass and everything in between.
This track embodies heavy in the context of techno, then slows it down until it becomes what I call “dread techno” – slowed down techno, but minimal and fierce, driven by overload bass and punctuated by a muddy 4/4. for the uninitiated or those unfamiliar with “heavy” electronic/techno music, it’s to techno what doom is to metal; slowed down, sharp, ultra heavy and slow…”
8. Zonal – In A Cage (feat. Moor Mother) (Wrecked, 2019)
“A contemporary representation of where Kevin Martin and I have been since we folded Techno Animal, and featuring the wonderful bountiful talents of Moor Mother/Camae Ayewa.
A new project from us in many ways, this track is most likely a stepping stone to where we will go in the future with this project; slow motion hip-hop; heavy and crushed, with crystalline alien melodies at the top; minimum/maximum…”
9. God – Tunnel (The Anatomy of Addiction, 1994)
“Nice song, and I just play guitar on it. Not my song or my band, but my old friend Kevin Martin, who’s known as The Bug, and my partner in crime in both Techno Animal and Zonal, fronted this 9 piece band God which started in the 80’s. Kevin plays nasty sax in addition to screaming his guts out in God and had amassed a stellar collection of members from all walks of life, from noise rock to free jazz, the vision for this project was savage.
I co-produced their first EP when I didn’t know what I was doing at around 20, but I tried… When Kevin asked me to play guitar on the albums, I was honored to bring my stuff to the table and this track is my favorite from my time in the band.”
10. Pale Sketcher – Heartbeat (Unreleased, 2022)
“Not released as I write this, but due out this year. I’ve been sitting on this track for about 10 years; it should have been released on Rephlex Records, Richard James/Aphex Twin’s label, circa 2013; I I sent him some tracks that he was going to compile into a release and it was one of my favorites.
But Richard and his label partner Grant put Rephlex indefinitely halfway through the compilation process. I then gave up on myself a bit and, a little deflated, I put all this material in the closet until now, where it has a new home. Transcendental melancholic electronica, well there somewhere…
Another one of my projects, another vehicle for another shade of gray. This list is far from being set in stone, another month would be especially different I imagine!
Godflesh will play 229 in London on September 9-10.