Godflesh, Skullflower &
Terminal Power Company.
Marquee. London. 1st November 1992.
Written by Kristian Robert Carper
If I can trace back to the start when my exploration of leftfield music began it would be this night, this concert. If I hadn't have been at this gig then it's highly likely that I would not have discovered many of the genres of music that I have obsessed over for almost three decades.
The year was 1992 and I had found myself gravitating towards the more electronic sonic terrorists that populated the American Wax Trax Records and Canada's Nettwerk. For the last eighteen months, I had been up to my neck in the electronic industrial sludge of Canada's Skinny Puppy. Revelling in the utter bleakness of their tormented beat driven schlock and dirge. Too Dark Park and Last Rights had literally been on constant rotation, the tormented anguished growl of Ogre and his drug haze malevolent worldview had begun to seep into my unconsciousness. Clouding and polluting my mind. The constant amphetamine use also was taking its toll and no doubt I wasn't much fun to be around.
It is hard to believe now but in 1992 with Ministry flavour of the month, there was a very short period of time when there suddenly appeared a gap in the sleek consumerist dream, a gap where if you looked hard enough the bands and artists normally hidden in the underground were visible. Godflesh was one of these bands who briefly emerged from the inky darkness of the underground. A blackened steel leviathan that burst into the wider musical arena like a huge chrome sea beast, emitting a huge roar of sound before disappearing again into the depths.
One of my mates had a great Godflesh shirt that had the immortal backprint of -
" Death to false metal "
Godflesh had just put out Pure. We all had it. We all loved it and therefore this show couldn't be missed.
No one knew what Skullflower was. For sure they had a great name but nobody had a clue about them. These days the internet has made searching for bands simple and easy. Even the most obscure artists are just a few searches away on a smartphone. However back in 1992 the way to discover music was to graft and find it. Either through painstaking fanzine searching or taking pot luck on bands discovered by word of mouth or because they shared the same label etc.
So we took the train from Bedford to London and hit the legendary Marquee club for a highly anticipated night of sonic battering.
To be honest, I don't really remember that much of Terminal Power Company performance, I know that we enjoyed it and it reinforced our belief that they needed to flesh out the sound in the studio for the next album ( which they did ). My friend bought a cool shirt from them that seemed to last decades. A sleek design that looked like it had fallen straight out of the Blade Runner film.
Well. I didn't get that at all.
What I got was a huge behemoth of noise. A massive lumbering beast of a sound. It was heavy. However, if this was metal it was no metal I had ever heard before. The whole thing seemed to be driven by a sluggish rhythm section that almost sounded as if it was about to collapse in on itself. It was a huge beast but it sounded if it was unsteady on its feet. Almost as if it was about to keel over and expire. The guitars were a chaotic mess. A squalling buzzsaw cacophony. It was a mess but it was a glorious mess. Heavy, shuffling, lumbering and caustic. Despite the bleakness and the mind-crushing heaviness, there was a gleam of prismatic colour emanating from the morass. Under all the layers of brutality was a kind of sinister psychedelia, a sense of kaleidoscopic hugeness. Almost as if they were producing a soundtrack to the universe folding in on itself. I was mesmerized. Held in a trance. This was music that operated on so many multifaceted levels. Levels up until then I had not known existed. I had always wanted my music, noisy and nasty. However, there was something that seemed to offer so much more. There was a whole universe of possibilities beneath the initial screen.
Then it was over. The lights came on. The crowd seemed mute. As if the life had been sucked out of us.
Two days later I managed to find a Skullflower vinyl. IIIrd Gatekeeper. It was on Justin Broadrick of Godflesh own label; Head dirt.
So getting back to what I mentioned above about this concert opening up avenues to what I have obsessed over for years...........
Through Skullflower I discovered Ramleh and then Broken Flag. Whilst investigating Ramleh I discovered Whitehouse and so on.
So here I am twenty-six years later. Surrounded by music that I wouldn't have discovered if it wasn't for attending this gig and being mesmerized by that band I assumed were going to be a dodgy metal band albeit one with a great name.
Godflesh (official site):
Skullflower (official site):
Terminal Power Company (Discogs):