Kat Cunning - Baby


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Rob Taylor

KMFDM - Yeah!

KMFDM can safely be considered one of the grandfathers of industrial rock at this point, which is to say the bands they've influenced have in turn influenced a third generation of bands. A major line-up change after the band's 1999 break-up changed the direction of the iconic group significantly, but they settled into a stable cast of characters and consistent sound for about a decade, until their last album in 2014, Our Time Will Come, was released. Since then, some of the newer members have become occupied with family and other activities, leaving mastermind Sascha Konietzko and wife Lucia Cifarelli as the only active core members. The three-year hiatus between albums is the longest since the break-up, and seemingly for similar reasons, presenting the pair with a chance for a stylistic overhaul. And it seems they've taken it to a certain extent.

This appetizer EP contains two new tracks from the forthcoming album along with a few remixes. Lead track 'Hell Yeah' opens with Konietzko's adolescent daughter giving something of an inspirational speech over some interestingly ghostly keys. A more standard synth lead kicks in with the band's trademark beats, and then Konietzko and the guitars join. But Konietzko is actually singing, a true rarity, and in fact, he's going about as light as I've heard. Honestly, it's a great change of pace for a band that many have said keep putting out the same album year after year. Still, the chorus goes into more familiar territory, with a bit more yelling and chugging guitar per the norm. But the verses are legitimately fresh. The lyrics are still the usual sloganeering, with a few real head-scratchers thrown in: "Ride the tornado, never look back, dance on the volcano, romping with a powder keg." I get the idea, but the particulars are confusing, especially when sacrificing a rhyming line for such lyrics. Still, the song overall has enough going for it to make it worth a listen.

Second new track 'Freak Flag (Edit)' sees the band going into actual EDM territory, which they haven't done much in decades. Opening with a fun, ping-ponging pair of synths, the vocals are carried by Cifarelli in this instance, and while she's occasionally divisive, she does a serviceable job in this case, and the song itself is different enough to carry past such a small concern. In the verses, the synths carry the load, and in the chorus, the guitars join in, providing stability and a space for the synths to play. The back and forth keeps things interesting, and there are more sonic flourishes than in recent memory.

Next up are the remixes. 'Hell Yeah (Lord of the Lost Remix)' starts out a bit blandly, with simple guitar, beats, and vocals, but rises up into something quite exciting in the chorus, with a rippling, almost revelatory synth rolling through. It's slightly marred by the overmixed and machine-gun fired beats, but still provides another piece of novelty. Then comes a major throwback, 'Attak (2017) KMFDM Remix', a mix of the title track off the band's first album in its second era from back in 2002. Here some of the jolting, spastic synth and guitar work has been replaced with a more rapid-fire, dance floor friendly approach. The original song was solid, and the mix is too, in its own way, creating an interesting bookend for the band's second era, and possibly heralding the beginning of a third. The final track is just an edit of the first track, and doesn't really offer anything new on its own, simply trimming a minute from the play time, probably angled for a radio-friendly length.

Taken as a whole, the small set sees the band trying a few different things while still keeping plenty of the familiar. With three primary members out and a new guitarist, it seems like Konietzko might be aiming to break the mold he put himself in for almost two decades, and more power to him if he is. The release of the new album, Hell Yeah, is scheduled for August, so the full extent of KMFDM 3.0 will become clear then. I'm cautiously optimistic.

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