Ah, hell: so hot, so thick, so smelly… What is it about hell that thrills us? Got any idea about the soundtrack that might be playing down there? Justin K. Broadrick has a career behind him that spans nearly a quarter of a century, working hard to delight us with atmospheres that are so stuffy we can hardly breathe, handling rusty textures and odious rhythms - his C.V. will have to be looked over by the devil himself when his time comes. His obsession with putting such disreputable feelings as brutality, loneliness, desolation, hate, and pain to music has led him to infect all sorts of music, whether solo (under such a large number of aliases that it’s hard to keep track of him), or in the company of other illustrious madmen like The Bug and Alec Empire. 2012 will be the year that our antihero will come back and lead the horde of barbarians of Godflesh toward an off-guard San Miguel Primavera Sound. He has also gone back to the early alias JK Flesh for a new solo project where he is turning himself over to his more electronic side; but which, as he said in Metal Hammer, has more to do with the physical, violent music that marked his origins than with his latest experiments in sandy, melodic shoegaze as Jesu or the ghostly, in its own way, melancholy, ambient of Pale Sketcher.
“Posthuman” (released digitally, on CD and as a double record by the label 3by3, dedicated to “provocative electronic”) is already a “successful” album because it manages to achieve its goal; which is to sew together the two halves of poor Justin’s brain, which until now had been hanging down either side of his neck, and which have worked spectacularly well autonomously. In his very thick broth floats the heavy metal of Napalm Death and Godflesh (dragging guitars, industrial echoes and guttural voices on the first three songs of the album, chosen by a nose that knows as advance tracks: “Knuckledragger”, “Idle Hands” and “Punchdrunk”) watered down with the deep, apocalyptic hip hop that he practiced with The Bug in Techno Animal. (Apocalyptic because of the image left behind by the unforgettable “The Brotherhood Of The Bomb” that they signed together, along with a ton of cannibalistic rappers. It wanted to be the soundtrack for humanity after a holocaust; but a hungry, dirty humanity that feeds on itself, like piranha taking their last gasp in a swamp). But let’s not get off track: getting back to the sound of “Posthuman”, what is beefing up the broth, like a layer of fat, is dub, dub and more dub - staining everything, distorting the sounds until they dissolve.
Starting with the fourth cut, “Posthuman” varies the ingredients in the broth slightly, and what emanates from there is electronic pollution ( “Earthmover”) and a misty drum’n’bass (the magnificent “Underfoot”) reminding one of Broadrick’s adventure in Curse of the Golden Vampire with Empire. Furthermore it’s reminiscent of the horrors we have experienced thanks to other wonderful pessimists, like The Third Eye Foundation. These are: broken rhythms almost asphyxiated under tons of guitar noise ( “Devoured”), echoes processed industrially, and plenty of dub ( “Dogmatic”, the most dubstep). It is precisely “Posthuman”, the magnificent song that gives the album its title, which best shows us this fearless Broadrick pulling out an electronica that seems to have come from a petroleum refinery. He handles it with his bare hands, dirtied by an uncontrollable dark magma that roils up from some unhealthy place and splatters everything it comes in contact with, until it flows into that stormy closer of the album, “Walk Away”. Grrreat.
“Posthuman” is a noteworthy album with a merit that should not be overlooked. At this stage in his career, Broadrick doesn’t have a single court of faithful followers - he has as many congregations as he does musical projects. Under the alias JK Flesh, and with “Posthuman” under his arm, he should be able to unite all of the faithful who have so far been dispersed, at times even set against each other, into a single brotherhood. This is a musical project that can bring together Black Sabbath and Public Enemy, Throbbing Gristle and Cannibal Ox, Atari Teenage Riot and Salem into a single tradition.