When Godflesh ended their tenure as a band with 2001's Hymns, it felt like the influential industrial metal outfit was revealing a portent of things to come, pointing listeners toward the carefully layered, melodic post-metal excursions that Justin Broadrick would go on to create with Jesu in the years that followed. It felt like things were done, as if the band had said all they needed to and, as a favor, were hipping listeners to what would be the next big thing in underground metal for the next decade or so. Returning not just to the band but to the stylistic roots where it initially started, Godflesh make their return with A World Lit Only by Fire, the duo's first album in 13 years. Where some bands tend to emerge from a long absence with a sound that feels inspired by the current trends in music, Godflesh's seventh album feels like it was influenced by their first. Although the sound has been updated, with Broadrick making liberal use of the guttural drone created by the eight-string guitar he used on the Jesu record, the tone feels like classic Godflesh, evoking a world covered in rust and grime illuminated by the unforgiving and uneven light of a bare, swinging light bulb. Tense, muscular, and mechanical, it feels as though A World Lit Only by Fire is an elaborate machine created by BC Green and Broadrick, and from the moment the album's opening track, "New Dark Ages," switches over from its slowly building beat to an impossibly detuned, nearly atonal chug, it's clear that once its inscrutable engines have been engaged, there's no stopping them until they've run out of power. The worry when a band comes back from a long absence is that they'll have forgotten whatever it was that made them interesting in the first place, but A World Lit Only by Fire makes it crystal clear that Godflesh have a long, unfailing memory, and that their punishing work has only just begun.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney