Intro-ing the full-album stream last November of the sophomore effort from Czar, No One is Alone if No One is Alive, our pals over at MetalSucks praised this ultra-power trio for “effectively straddl[ing] the line between precise tech-y metal and earthy post-hardcore” — an apt observation we won’t quibble with here.
In recognition of Czar’s gig opening for the legendary Godflesh at the Metro in Chicago tonight, it seemed as good a time as any to hype this awesome, somewhat overlooked record a bit and ask the dudes what tracks they’re hoping to hear this evening…uh, in the flesh.
Hence, the following Top Five list…
“I was lucky enough to see Godflesh live in the early 90’s at the legendary Lounge Ax in Chicago,” vocalist/guitarist Jason Novak tells Decibel. “Simple, brutal and loud as hell. They really showed a way to use programming and guitars in a purely metal fashion as opposed to all the drum-loop based examples at the time. I heard Selfless two years later and was even further impressed by the crushing use of melodic feedback and song craft. Gotta say all that was blown to bits by the majesty of Jesu ten years later, but getting to play with Godflesh this week in Chicago is definitely a bucket list kind of opportunity — the Czar boys and I are honored and stoked.”
The scientific answer to “What’s your favorite Godflesh song?” is “Like Rats.” I know. Besides being the mission statement and opening salvo on Godflesh’s seminal album, Streetcleaner, the song has legs! In recent years in Chicago, at least, Harm’s Way have been covering it, and Like Rats named themselves after it. But I’ve always been a bigger fan of “Christbait Rising.” It has the superior title, and it punishes listeners longer than any song on Streetcleaner. With only a few off-putting ingredients — barking, buzzy guitars, bass stabs, the Roland “rock kit” — it tells a seven-minute story that never lags thanks to good songwriting. The verses have a a capture-and-release quality, there are hints at pleasant melody — in the feedback! — and then there’s the pure pit-bait of the choruses, replete with dive-bomb squealie riffs. Most of all, though, I love it because of the VHS basement footage above from Germany in 1990. Justin Broadrick plays those riffs with his entire body. He has a whammy bar; he does not need a whammy bar. The original tape should be on permanent display at MoMA.
The opening crush from Selfless is such a revelation. The drum machine pummel feels immediately like a beefy, well written live pattern, it just brings you in. The simple harmonics in the main riff, the crushing sustain in the chorus, and my favorite part, the droning sort of organ chord humming underneath it all. Powerful and simple and maybe the best GF opening track.
This album was always GF’s “Big Black” record. A lot of folks lean toward “Mothra” on this record, which really hammers the Albini vibe but I was always more of a fan of the title track.
“Black Boned Angel”
Expansive, massive and actually easy to digest, something you can share with any traditional rock fan who doesn’t know GF. The open chord swell and haunting vocal could go on forever, and the sweet counternote that whines in and out of the chorus is something I would rip off for years to come… You can write a million soaring Burton-esque vocal melodies to go along with the chorus, it’s so good. I could go on and on about the majesty of the Selfless album as a whole but will give credence to others.
We are throwing this in to be smart asses, yes, but I’ve always been convinced this was literally the “last” Godflesh track — until this year — and it was sorta kinda accidentally added to Jesu’s debut. After the hypnotic drone of the first six Jesu tracks this one’s vocals come in and you are taken back to GF instead, rubbing your eyes just out of dreamland and ready to storm down an icy blue collar UK neighborhood, head freshly shaven, in your trench coat.
Check out Czar on tour…
Apr 15 – Chicago, IL @ Metro (w/Godflesh)
Apr 16 – Springfield, VA @ Empire
Apr 17 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
Apr 18 – Philadelphia, PA @ Northstar Bar
Apr 19 – Albany, NY @ Bogies