Album Review: KMFDM – “We Are”
Now, KMFDM may not be a familiar name to all of you, but it probably should be. Forming in 1984, Germany’s KMFDM were one of the pioneers of industrial, and are credited by many as bringing the genre to the attention of the heavy metal mainstream. Mixing enormous metal riffs with jagged electronica and samples, the end results were huge, brutal, frequently obscene, and often remarkably catchy. Without them, we probably would never have had Marilyn Manson or Rammstein, or if we did, they would be very different beasts.
So what of KMFDM in 2014? Well, apart from the obvious 30th anniversary, they are a formidable 18 studio albums into their career, with a 19th on the way. And on the evidence of We Are, the bands 30th anniversary release (all at once a live album, best of, and statement of identity), they remain as musically uncompromising as ever.
Mixing guitars, sequencers, sample and live vocals at this intensity in the live arena is often a challenge, and it’s to KMFDM’s credit that they’ve always been able to put on a live show that not only replicates the painstakingly exact records, but also transcends them, and this record shows that off in spades. The electronic and techno elements take on a new fluidity outside of the confines of the studio (Tohuvabohu), and the guitar parts taking on a new hugeness (Free Your Hate) that can only really be achieved in a live space.
And that’s not to say there are no choruses on show here, oh no, far from it. I challenge anyone to resist the nasty pop hooks of tracks like Son Of A Gun, which stick to your mind for hours after like the grimiest of bubblegum, and how could you not smile at Kunst, with the chorus “KMFDM – Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode!” In an all too frequently po-faced genre such as industrial, it’s always refreshing to see a band not afraid to have a little fun.
If I were to recommend you a place to start with KMFDM, it wouldn’t be this record, it would probably be one of their 90s albums where they were at their peak in terms of accessibility. However, as a record of where they came from, and where they are musically and conceptually in the year 2014, this album documents them perfectly.