I will never forget the first time I heard the industrial band KMFDM. The year was 1996, and the song was “Sucks” off the album ‘Angst’ which they had released 3 years prior. In short, the lyrics are hilarious, and detail the band’s cheeky side as they list all the ways in which they are superior to all other acts. Naturally, they are kidding, but to hear an industrial band be so light-hearted and self-deprecating caused me to become an instant fan. Therefore, when it was announced that the prolific group has just released their 20th studio album (that’s right, I said TWENTY as in 2-0!), titled ‘Hell Yeah,’ I could not wait to dive in and see just how their freshest effort fared.
Fans of the group will get right into the grove, thanks to a classic KMFDM synth sounds in songs such as “Freak Flag,” “Murder My Heart” and “Rx 4 the Damned,” all of which feature upbeat electro rhythms and beautiful vocals from Lucia Cifarelli. Cifarelli also shines in “Shock,” which is sexy, pulsating, and everything we love about industrial music. A large majority of the record however, focuses on a more serious subject: The current state of affairs, particularly in the U.S. KMFDM are no strangers to political controversy, in fact many are not aware that their name actually stands for “Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid,” which, when loosely translated from German means “no pity for the majority.” And let me tell you, the message they deliver on their album remains true to their namesake. The track “Total State Machine,” sung by enigmatic frontman Sascha Konietzko is one prime example of this, and is arguably the most memorable and infectious song of the album. The commanding beat hits you right away, however it’s the poignant lyrics that are the true star of the show. “The government hates you!” the song boldly claims. “Hates you because you’re free. Can’t be ruled, won’t be fooled, by the total state machine. Control, control, watching eyes, going to great lengths. Fascist blind won’t recognize diversity is human strength.” Likewise, the track “Rip the System” is equally as eye opening, with lines that are just as reflective. “Slavery, exploitation, the common basis of western nation. Official versions of falsified story, the truth lies buries in the shroud of glory. Oppression, idiocy rule. Education is more than what’s taught in school. Forced to the mold, held down by threats, decisions are made over our heads.” While the accuracy of these statements are up for discussion there is no denying that the sentiment is well articulated and smartly expressed. Combine these thought-provoking lyrics with a sick, bass heavy beat and you’ve got an album chock full of equal parts brain candy and soul food. (And I don’t know about you, but I appreciate such balance.)
Is KMFDM for everyone? Not really. They aren’t necessarily the sound that’s “popular” right now, and in my opinion, that’s a good thing. Lately it seems as if almost everyone wants to follow a formula, as if that’s the ticket to success. The best part about both KMFDM and their new album ‘Hell Yeah’ is that they stay true to their roots, which is likely why their career has stood the test of time for over three decades now. So if you’re looking for something that you can dance to, headbang to, have sex to, or play during your next rally, look no further, because ‘Hell Yeah’ has it all.