After the release of Godflesh's first album, 1989's Streetcleaner, the band played concerts across Europe and eventually embarked on a 1991 tour of North America with labelmates Napalm Death. This was the first time frontman Justin Broadrick and bassist G. C. Green played in America, and the band were met with unexpected favour. Broadrick elaborated upon their reception in a 2010 interview with Exclaim, saying, "By the time we got there, the band had already grown beyond my expectations, it was already becoming a popular band in the underground, which we hadn't really expected. It was very much a surprise for us that people responded so positively to the music". It was this tour that solidified Godflesh as a full-time project, and once it was over, Broadrick and Green returned to the studio. After the release of the 1991 EP Slavestate, the band decided to focus on a second studio album. The resulting sessions led to another 1991 EP, Cold World, and Pure in 1992.
With Pure, Broadrick wanted to explore the experimental side of Godflesh. However, at the time, the band were limited to 8-track reel-to-reel recording tape, which stifled some of his ambitions. To make up for the technological deficit and recent departure of second guitarist Paul Neville, Loop guitarist Robert Hampson was brought in to provide additional instrumentation. Hampson ended up playing on only half of Pure, but the additions helped reinforce the album's overwhelming sound. Broadrick later said the introduction "worked brilliantly". The album's title comes from Broadrick's idea that purity (especially a child's view of it) is strength.