Wednesday, June 19, 2024

CD Odyssey Disc 1745: KMFDM

It’s been over 10 years since I reviewed an album by this next band. I took a break from them in between, and only recently began adding their records to my collection. As a result, while this next record came out almost 20 years ago, it is new to me this year.

Disc 1745 is…Hau Ruck

Artist: KMFDM

Year of Release: 2005

What’s up with the Cover?  There are bands that have better album covers by KMFDM, but not many. The stylized graphic novel feel you see here is their stock and trade and they do it well.

This is one of the better ones, as we see a fierce woman, fresh from stabbing some suit wearing dude who – we must assume – had it coming. Disagreeing with this assessment are the cronies drawing their pistols on Assassin Lady, intent on avenging their boss. Something about the look of this woman makes me not like their chances.

How I Came To Know It: For a good 10 years my local record store has had a slowly depleting collection of used KMFDM albums. It’s where I bought my first two (“Angst” and “Nihil”) back in the day and of late I’ve been going in and nabbing a new KMFDM album – unheard – whenever the mood strikes me.

It is pretty picked over at this point, but it has been a fun experience.

How It Stacks Up: I have five KMFDM albums, with plans to get at least two more, although the plans are a bit unclear, I admit. I’m just as likely to not do that. Of the five I do have, I put “Hau Ruck” in at #4.

Rating: 3 stars

KMDFM is like ACDC. Not the music, mind you – their industrial metal vibe is very unlike ACDC. They are like ACDC in that all their songs sound vaguely similar to each other, but you don’t mind, because they are all good.

KMFDM specializes in driving riffs and synth-derived power grooves, overlaid with dystopian anarchistic lyrics that shout out FTW for all who would listen. This includes any unfortunate neighbours living beside the person playing it. Don’t judge me too harshly for playing it loud in my car. This stuff naturally carries and sounds best loud.

“Hau Ruck” is more of the same (see “ACDC” comment above) and that suits me just fine. It is the third record featuring their reformed lineup with longstanding member Sascha K, as well as core “second wave’ members Lucia Cifarelli (vocals) and Andy Selway (drums). This second iteration of the band (starting in 2003) has some differences from the nineties version of the band, with a bit less white noise and a bit more groove. A lot of that is the arrangement decisions, and the hard driving groove is the everpresent aspect of the band that makes them so Goddamned awesome through the ages.

Hau Rock’s opening two tracks are also its best. “Free Your Hate” gets us started with a classic “F U” track from the masters of that particular message. The music is pure aggression, getting the blood pumping with an oppressive opening riff, juxtaposed with an electronica dance mix feel. The main lyrical refrain of “the beatings will continue/until morale improves” lack originality, but the sentiment aligns well with the song’s vibe.

The title track comes next and is the album’s best. “Hau Ruck” has an inexorable and menacing build, hitting you like a pickaxe glancing off a boulder – the embodiment of an unstoppable object colliding with an impervious groove.

The rest of the record is great to varying degrees, although it never matches the intensity and creative power of the first two tunes. “Professional Killer” comes close, with an awesome synth riff that demands swirling arm movement and a complete surrender to the demands of the dance floor. Also good for driving, although obviously not while dancing. Safety first when rucking out, dear readers.

Lyrically, “Hau Ruck” does not inspire, but you don’t listen to KMFDM for the poetry. Accept that the lyrics are just part of the descent into the industrial maelstrom of sound, with a few provocative phrases that are suitable for singing along in the moments where the tune allows (or demands). Shout out “Ready to Blow” along with the band, exclaim “hau ruck!” in time with the beat and feel connected amid the disconnect. It’s rebellious, compulsive and therapeutic all in one, and exactly what this stuff is for.

Best tracks: Free Your Hate, Hau Ruck, Professional Killer, Ready to Blow

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