Neurosis / Godflesh Live Review (HMV Forum, London. 2/12/12)

All Tomorrow’s Party, or simply ATP, always organise great events and nearing the end of 2012, the organisation isn’t putting their foot on the brake just yet. Leading up to the infamous Cumber Sands event (which will begin a day after the writing of this), ATP managed to combine two monumental bands in a co-headline gig: Neurosis and Godflesh.

Godflesh is primarily referred to as the industrial metal birthchild of Justin Broadrick and G.C. Green. However, to say Godflesh is strictly “industrial metal” might be unfair and inaccurate, as they often bring in influences from other genres as well as having some heavy doom metal vibes at times with the slow and distortion-sustained nature of some songs – and this is what becomes more evident in a live setting.

Opening with Love Is A Dog From Hell, the room just vibrates with Broadrick’s dissonant guitar and Green’s incredibly thick bass; while the drum machine (anybody new to Godflesh: they don’t have a drummer) surprisingly packs a good live punch and doesn’t detract from the overall sound. All the while, images of a haunting, crooked crucifix against a white background before dissolving into centuries-old art of torture, hell and anguish. You can’t help but feel entranced by the drone of the bass and distortion while these images are shown to you on a canvas that stretches for the length and height of the stage area, the two members of Godflesh appearing as shadowed silhouettes in front of it.

After they finish the first track, they melt into perhaps the two biggest fan favourites: Like Rats and Christbait Rising. Needless to say, the crowd screamed and yelled along to Like Rats (myself included), and you could only just hear Justin over the roars of the crowd – creating a weird sense of apocalyptic unity; especially as the cover of “Streetcleaner” (often warped) repeatedly came up in the visuals. They also played a few more tracks from “Streetcleaner”, “Selfless” and Weak Flesh from the self-titled EP. Simply put; Godflesh were absolutely awe-inspiring.

After a short break, Neurosis stepped onto the stage in almost complete darkness, only to have dark blue lights come on and this is what you get for the whole set: the blue/white-tinge of each member of the band. As Josh Graham had announced his end with Neurosis a few days before, the usual visual aspect to the band’s live shows wasn’t there and so after seeing the grim images behind Godflesh for 45-minutes beforehand, this was disappointing… at first.

Seeing a monolithic progressive sludge/doom band like Neurosis perform in near darkness is an experience, because at times you forget about the focus on its two frontmen, Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till. Instead, in the low light, you see shadows and outlines instead (yes, it’s easy to recognise the frontmen but still) and you get the feeling that you’re witnessing a complete entity instead, they are all one being… and it is hypnotising.

Mostly going through songs on their new album “Honour Found In Decay” with the likes of My Heart For DeliveranceAt The Well, and We All Rage In Gold, they also played fan favourites such as Times Of Grace and Distill (Watching The Swarm). Neurosis pretty much rolled through the set with incredible execution and managed fine without the visuals; watching Scott Kelly handle his guitar like an owner controls of their pitbull was a pretty fascinating to watch in itself.

If you didn’t attend this event, let’s just say you missed out.

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