Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Creative BLITZ for Industrial Titans KMFDM

Industrial pioneers KMFDM are doin’ it again with their latest release BLITZ, marking the band’s latest attempt to return to their signature experimentalism of electronic beats and pounding guitar grooves. After driving home a series of more metal-inspired albums since 2002, KMFDM are digging back into the techno and funk styles that defined the band when they formed back in 1984. The album as a whole seems to act as a “Best Of” compilation without actually being a compilation, each song representing a different era of KMFDM during its 25 years of ultra heavy beats.

Album opener “Up Uranus” is a clear example of this, with frontman Sascha Konietzko’s deadpan recital of the song’s manifesto lyrics coupled with the rumbling background guitars appearing severely reminiscent of early work by the group. This is even further cemented by the track’s title represented as a on the album listing, a callback to KMFDM’s seminal 1997 release Symbols, the title of said album being listed as (you guessed it) random symbols. “Davai” features Sascha belting out in Russian to a totalitarian beat, while “Potz Blitz!” has him slamming his voice in German; the divide from each track showcasing the group’s devotion to its source sound while noticing the recent developments in Deutschland’s dance-metal scene. Human League cover “Being Boiled” interprets the song’s original peacemonger message to a more industrial set of horn and strings, and would stand out as the strangest bit on the album if not for side-songtress Lucia Ciaferelli’s central entries.

Her contributions “Bait & Switch” and “People of the Lie” in particular feel out of place due to their smoother, darker rhythms and dark-electro crooning reminiscent of the band’s brief hiatus project MDFMK at the end of last century, while “Never Say Never” is more of a fusion work between Lucia’s feminine electronica and the band’s testosterone-laden chugging rhythms. Finally, the requisite satire ballad of every KMFDM joint appears in “Bitches,” continuing the album’s retrospective tone with a fairly downtempo proclamation of the how the band “hi-jacked your bedazzled soul for ransom to be paid in gold” and were “only in it for the money, to dip [their] fingers in your honey.”

When this tour of KMFDM’s back-catalogue ends, the result for listeners depends on how much of the group’s signature drug they’ve downed during their career. Life-long fans will enjoy Konietzko and Ko.’s risks at returning to their roots after introducing themselves to newer generations through the same unrelenting industrial metal utilized by musical descendants Rammstein. Even the choice to include beats similar to the MDFMK side-experiment is an appeal to all followers, despite the more contemporary techno of that project largely considered a bust despite positive reviews. People awaiting an entry into KMFDM’s world may want to look elsewhere, unfortunately, for the very qualities of this album’s diversity can also come off as haphazard plotting to the uninitiated. Consider the dissonance in mood between the discothèque “Strut” and the schoolyard beatdown drumming and verbal diarrhea of “Me & My Gun.” Tracks reminiscent of the band’s earlier works may not be pleasing to the modern, uncultured ear either, having been frankensteined from a dead age of smoky ‘80s Goth clubs where swaying was an acceptable form of dance. “I have to admit that BLITZ represents a creative move that might put off those who have grown attached to KMFDM's brash, epic guitar-driven sounds…” said Greg Burkart of Fearnet.com’s What The Fear, later claiming that “…these guys do it better than any dozen other electronic dance acts on the scene right now…” Indeed, while new listeners would do better to check out earlier entries in the catalogue such as WWIII or XTORT, older fans are in for a treat with BLITZ’s new-old-school approach and fresh creative intent.

All Images (c) KMFDM.com

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