KMFDM - Paradise - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

KMFDM - Paradise

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:9 Release Date:2019-09-27
KMFDM - Paradise
KMFDM - Paradise

At some point into its third decade, your career's primary question becomes one of endurance. Have you still got it? Are you still able to produce something fresh and engaging? With the release of their twenty-first(!) album, KMFDM's answer is a resounding yes. On Paradise, mastermind Sascha Konietzko and company have dropped another solid album that follows closely in the footsteps of 2017's brilliant Hell Yeah. Old-school fans of the band won't necessarily hear anything absolutely out of character, if they've listened to everything that's come before, but when taken as a whole, the set covers a remarkable amount of territory, and continues the previous album's willingness to experiment with more genres and play around with quieter styles instead of cranking it to eleven every time.

Opener 'K-M-F' does start loud and proud, with Konietzko shouting the meaning of those three words in a way that shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with the band. But the song is heavily electronic, with sexy, swiveling percussion, and piles of varied synths coming from every direction. Guitarist Andee Blacksugar, who first joined the band on the 2017 tour after the original touring band couldn't get into the United States, spices things up by taking over the song here and there. Guest vocalist Andrew "Ocelot" Lindslay drops a couple of verses of pretty legit rapping too, creating yet another new texture for the group, and charged political samples ("Everything is either owned or controlled by the state.") complete the delightfully bleak picture.

Only a few songs are really ballbusting, guitar-heavy tracks. 'No Regret' goes with a more traditional slab of guitar, but uses breakbeats, another new element. Konietzko shouts in this track too, making it one of the angrier tunes on the album, with an appropriate callback to the Excessive Force song 'Finger on the Trigger' (1991): "I act like a finger on the trigger, of the gun in your head." It's decent, but despite it's raging intentions, it's not going to set the world on fire. 'Oh My Goth' opens with a nice thunderstorm sample, and at first blush sounds familiar, but forgoes industrial rock and adds some interesting melancholy flavor to the melody, sounding more like a Lucia Cifarelli (Konietzko's wife and the other main vocalist) solo track or even a song from her old 90s band, Drill.

Most of the tracks go all in on the synths. 'WDYWB' sounds like a major electronic throwback in its opening, like something off 1997's Symbols album, with all kinds of different synth lines working together, and even a bit of piano here and there, but with a little guitar present to provide acidity. That's really a key aspect of the album: rather than guitars being the giant t-bone steak centerpiece, they're more like a condiment this time. Which is great, because that gives all the other sounds plenty of space to breathe. Longtime guest contributor Cheryl Wilson adds her powerful voice to the mix as well, giving the track some extra soul. 'Megalo' is billed as a "new rendition" of 1997's 'Megalomaniac', but other than the lyrics, it has essentially nothing in common with the original musically. Having said that, it's still loaded with synths and just enough guitar. But it feels incredibly fresh, like a song from the 22nd century rather than the boring old 21st: very spacey and energetic.

A couple of songs really lay on the "true" industrial sound too, by which I mean a more retro 80s post-industrial sound. 'Disturb the Peace' features a bunch of banging metal percussion and a dope-ass synth bassline that sounds straight off an And One album. Konietzko vocodes his voice a little, and the pounding, marching rhythm makes it one of the most fun songs on the set, with a big fat hook in the chorus and again, lots of percussive change-ups. And one of the most anticipated tracks, featuring KMFDM co-founder Raymond "Pig" Watts on a KMFDM track for the first time since 2003, 'Binge Boil & Blow', in addition to using a three-word alliterative title, one of Watts' calling cards, does a lot of metalworking in the beats, and comes off sounding massive, with grinding guitars tying it together at key moments. Watts is at his sleaziest, sexiest best here too, grunting and growling like a man at the top of his game.

One of the most exciting songs in the set is 'Automaton', a very fun song with bouncy electronics and wacky vocal effects. With multiple breakdowns and varied instrumentation, it yet again shows there's still new ground to explore in the world of KMFDM. It also sneaks in a melodic reference to the 1989 track 'Rip the System' about two-thirds of the way through, making it even more entertaining for KMFDM completists. The title track is also pretty fantastic, starting out with Konietzko in his whispering mode (my favorite) and Lucia going banshee. The guitar is rock solid here, but the song brings in dub elements for the breaks, something the band hadn't really done before Hell Yeah since way back on UAIOE in 1989. The track is an epic eight minutes long, and after the heavy early half, it goes entirely dub for the second part. It's fascinating and honestly cool as shit to hear more of this sound. Along the same lines, 'No God' busts out an awesome dubby rhythm and a playful horn section that winks at 1990's 'Virus'. As far as I'm concerned, KMFDM should drop an entire album of this stuff and title it A Dub Against War.

Paradise proves that Hell Yeah was no fluke, and the brave new era of KMFDM 3.0 is here to stay. Konietzko seems to have discovered a new fountain of ideas and is drinking deeply from it. Newbies to the band might get whiplash from all the crazy stuff going on, but old-timers should be well pleased. I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

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