Album Review by Mark Bayross
That old adage about dark times bringing out the best in the human spirit certainly seems to be working in industrial music circles. With both Killing Joke and Ministry re-finding their previous incendiary form in response to today’s global political chaos, it is now the turn of the mighty multinational KMFDM collective to vent their fury, and their sense of anger at the censorious US-led police state that has sprawled across the planet has at least galvanised them back into a powerful musical force.
In keeping with the band’s tradition of five-letter titles, their 15th album was allegedly christened WWIII some time before Gulf War 2. Not only has it turned out prophetic, it is also their most coherent and focused work since 1995’s superb NIHIL. As on 2001’s ATTAK, mainman Sacha Konietzko has been joined by regular collaborators Lucia Cifarelli (of Drill) and Raymond “Pig” Watts, while his old partners En Esch and Gunter Schulz are still AWOL with their band Slick Idiot. No Bill Reiflin this time, and no Tim Skold, but then he is possibly now a little occupied as a full time member of Marilyn Manson.
From the moonshine-swigging, chair-rocking redneck banjo intro to the napalm guitars of the opening title track, it is pretty clear where KMFDM stand on the current state of the United States’ influence on the world and its cerebrally-challenged President. If further proof were needed, the song MORON later in the album couldn’t really make it clearer.
Besides righteous fury, the other thing that KMFDM seem to have found is a sense of melodic dynamism. BLACKBALL features a haunting string backing that seeps through the stomping beats, while Cifarelli’s impassioned LAST THINGS carries a real sense of livewire urgency through its electronic build-up. Even the juggernaut guitars – which the band’s detractors have always claimed are too samey – sound fresh this time around: the frantic riffs of STARS & STRIPES and BULLETS, BOMBS & BIGOTRY particularly impress with their originality.
Some things never change, though: Watts adds some of his usual sleaze to the mix – the slow-burning crawl of PITY FOR THE PIOUS builds into a maelstrom of noise and Cheryl Wilson’s orgasmic moaning. Don’t listen to this one loud on the bus. And of course, as this is KMFDM, there is a healthy dose of black humour throughout the album – the knockabout self-deprecation of the closing INTRO (which, according to Konietzko, serves as a segue into their next album) sits right alongside their classic SUCKS as a continuation of the band’s manifesto to raise smiles as well as fists.
Consistently enjoyable and satisfyingly hard-hitting throughout, WWIII is an encouragingly healthy return to form for KMFDM. Devotees of the band will love it, while Rammstein or Manson fans should definitely investigate. If this really is the build-up to the next album, then I can’t wait to hear that.