:CD Review: KMFDM – WTF?!

Release Date:  April 26, 2011
Label: Metropolis
Website: kmfdm.net

Review by: William Dashiell Hammett

Do I really need to give a summary of KMFDM’s career and history?  Started by its sole constant member Sascha Konietzko way back in 1984, KMFDM really burst onto the scene in late 80s early 90s offering a different aspect to the industrial music scene then dominated by Ministry, Skinny Puppy and Nine Inch Nails.  After nearly 30 years, KMFDM have released the album WTF?!–no translation necessary.

The album starts off with the track “Krank”, which was also the first single from the album release back on March 8, 2011.  Starting with a steady beat and driving synth, the track starts slowly, building with an ultimate climax introduced by the addition of a gritty guitar riff.  “Krank” is a very strong track and it is easily apparent why it was chosen as the single for this album.  There is such a range of melodies and sounds it is the perfect introduction to the album.

An atmospheric, sweeping, synth line starts off “Come On – Go Off”, almost taking this album down to a relaxing level.  Of course, as anyone who knows Sascha Konietzko’s music knows, that isn’t going to last very long.  Again, a gritty guitar riff comes in to break the tone during the chorus.  The song descends and builds over and over driving you forward and propelling you along with some very nice beats and synths.

Lucia Cifarelli’s aggressive vocals make their first lead appearance on the track “Rebels in Control”.  Violent is the best word to describe the emotion this song emits.  Seemingly describing a world take over by followers of KMFDM and putting Kapt’n K in charge, a simple sounding beat that I suspect is much more complicated drives this song along with Cifarelli’s almost chant like vocals.  While the lyrics stress the attempt to bring about a better world for the benefit of humanity, the tone of the song seems to suggest otherwise.

A downright nasty synth line starts off the song “Lynchmob”, soon joined by a heavy guitar and Sascha’s antagonistic vocals.  There is actually a moment of calm within this track, a moment when Sashcha seems to accept that there are a myriad of depressing issues in the world.  This of course doesn’t last overly long was just a simple acknowledgment before going back on the attack.

The track “Take It Like A Man” comes up next and drastically changes the mood of the album.  Cifarelli’s vocal on this song holds a decidedly seductive tone, a tone that is maintained even when the lyrics themselves are downright insulting.  There is almost a synth-pop quality to this song, but the heavier sounds one is used to with KMFDM are cleverly hidden just beneath the main melody and carry you along as an undertow.  “Vive La Mort” takes you back to a more “classic” KMFDM sound: heavy synth and guitar lines weaving and panning, accompanied by Sascha’s distorted voice and darker lyrics.

“Viva La Mort” is next and its jumping synth line is nicely accompanied by heavy guitar line.  With a repeated reference to Wild Bill’s last poker hand, this song drips with brutality and callousness.  This mood of pitilessness is echoed in the following track “Dystopia”.  Starting with an almost angelic sounding vocal from Cifarelli (at least as angelic as she is able blessed as she is with a decidedly full voice), before letting the full force of her choral talent slam into you with an belligerence paralleled by the heavy bass line.

The single track on this album with German lyrics, “Panzerfaust” comes next and seems to slow things down a bit.  The beat is more paced then on previous tracks and the vocal is quiet when compared to earlier vocal performances by Sascha.  There are plenty of layers to this track to be caught up in.  It is followed by the song “Spectre”, a track whose depth is startlingly in contrast with the shallow political lyrical content.   I really liked the sound of the track, while I found the lyrical content to be a less deep repetition of early songs.

“Amensia” begins with a light, aura-like synth line before Cifarelli’s voice comes in and take this song to the previously visited synth-pop sphere where it stays until the chorus when a heavy guitar line takes center stage.  Creative use of effects and Cifarelli’s vocal performance, as well as her voice play backwards through a sampler, show some of the vast creative abilities of Sascha and company.

The album concludes with the track “Death And Burial Of C.R.” one of the most downright evil sounding “art” tracks I’ve heard in a very long time.  I don’t think it will become part of my daily mix, but it is very creative and expressive.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s when KMFDM started to make inroads into the industrial scene in the US, I was decidedly unimpressed with their music. However, they have certainly evolved and have earned their place at the top of the industrial genre with Front 242, Ministry, Nitzer Ebb, etc…  The level of musicianship and creativity shown on this album is breathtaking.  I highly recommend this album and all of the songs as being worthy of inclusion into a daily mix.

Download WTF?! from Amazon MP3

One thought on “:CD Review: KMFDM – WTF?!”

  1. “The single track on this album with German lyrics, “Panzerfaust” …”

    The song is sung in Italian my good man. A simple enough mistake.

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