Album Review: KMFDM – Kunst

KMFDM Records

KMFDM have been around since the birth of industrial metal scene. Pulled together by founder member Sascha Konietzko in Germany back in 1984 and fuelled by a revolving cast of members, KMFDM have regularly released music that treads the ground between techno/dance and metal. Now based in the US, this is the band’s 18th album release.

If you are already a fan, then this opus sits proudly within their back catalogue and matches up well with previous releases. Indeed the lyrical content of the title track ‘Kunst’ (German for ‘art’, I’m reliably informed) is entirely references to previous KMFDM song titles. One line, “Kill Motherf**king Depeche Mode” is one of the many touted explanations of the KMFDM acronym.

However, if the band are not yet on your radar, there is nothing particularly outstanding here to recommend this album above other industrial bands. Indeed, there is heavy digital sampling and electronic pulsing on most tracks to the obvious detriment of the crunching guitars. If you like your industrial fix with more metal bite then White Zombie circa ‘Astro Creep 2000’ or Ministry circa ‘Jesus Built My Hotrod are decent benchmarks. The KMFDM sound has rather been left behind by the giant footsteps of Rammstein and their pretenders.

Nevertheless, there is some good stuff here. ‘Next Big Thing’ is a gem, with tight rhythms and spikes of angry guitar. ‘Pseudocide’ smashes up a gutteral riff and speeds along on a rollicking bass/snare drum weave. The lyrical content is up to the mark with, amongst other observations, solidarity shown for the recently imprisoned Russian punk rockers on ‘Pussy Riot’.

But elsewhere, the tracks tend to fall down a little. ‘Quake’ is built around that familiar tight drum and dark bass guitar groove, but can’t seem to shake free the shackles and sounds too claustrophobic. ‘Hello’ is typically frustrating, featuring a killer high-octane riff and vocal refrain that Al Jourgensen would gladly have in his roster. And then undoes all the good work by interspersing this with a limp, trance-like breathy vocal delivery.

The aforementioned title track, ‘Kunst’ has a tight groove but the Bontempi organ break is more suited to a cereal advert from the ‘70’s. ‘Ave Maria’ is sufficiently far from the popular hymn to inspire your mild mannered Catholic into screams for another Crusade. But again the keyboard is a bit too cheesy-disco to add any gravitas to the otherwise tight rhythmic blast. The same heavy handed keyboard failings also mar ‘Animal Out’.

So a decent enough album that somehow fails to quite sound nasty enough to be believable.



Dave Atkinson

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