It is hard to deny the influence Andy La Plegua, the man behind Combichrist (and also Scandy, Panzer A.G. and before that Icon of Coil and more besides), has had in goth/industrial clubs over the past couple of years. In the few years since Combichrist emerged, dancefloors have rocked to his tunes almost every night, and maybe, just maybe, people who wouldn’t have got into any part of the industrial scene might have got into the ultra-accessible dancefloor hits and looked beyond into a rich and varied scene. Not to mention the legion of acts that have beefed up their beats in the hope of filling dancefloors and selling records like Combichrist does. And so that brings us to the new album, the act’s third album proper, to see if it will be able to build on previous success.
What The Fuck Is Wrong With You People?
Let’s ignore the opening intro 5am [afterparty] – it is Lucia from KMFDM leaving an angry voicemail, presumably back to Andy – and head straight onto the opening track proper What The Fuck Is Wrong With You?, and we are left in no doubt that there is a quest here for an even greater popularlity. Like previous single Get Your Body Beat (more on that in a bit), it’s a track headed straight for the dancefloor, and more interestingly shows much more of a reliance on vocals than the Combichrist of before, although like all the strongest Combichrist material it relies squarely on one oft repeated phrase and a pounding, repetitive beat. Following that is Electrohead – somewhat faster, but otherwise the usual pattern – but doesn’t really have anything all that notable to it and I still can’t fathom why this has apparently been chosen to be the single.
After these two pounding opening tracks, things don’t really go anywhere for a while. Adult Content meanders along for six minutes of something resembling minimalist EBM, while Fuck That Shit is another six minutes of shouting, snarling and profanity – and while the idea is good, like much of this album it is way too long (although admittedly it works very well live). Talking of being too long, Brain Bypass is nearly nine minutes of drug information samples and beats…and that is it. In fact, it is about as interesting as watching others doing drugs.
It’s a good thing it is followed by tracks that actually have some life to them: like previous single (and a comparatively big hit) Get Your Body Beat, which has grown on me immeasurably since it’s initial release, being at the time for Combichrist something of a departure in it’s use of more usual vocal structures, including both a chorus and verses. Still the move worked, as the track stands out as one of the strongest here. Deathbed provides a much-needed change of pace from 4/4 beats, slowing things down a little (and oddly ending up sounding like an IoC track), while In The Pit also keep the pace a little slower, with a robotic beat, and pushes things even more IoC-wards. Well, at least until the stomping chorus…
Shut Up and Swallow is a return to the type of pounding dancefloor tune that Combichrist seemingly churn out on autopilot, while Red is another interesting departure – the first Combichrist track that I can think of that has been seemingly created with live performance in mind, with the use of live drums in the substantially louder chorus. And having seen it performed live, it really works well, too. Are You Connected, is a seething rant that will probably sound better when dancing like a bastard to it, while Give Head If You Got It, while undeniably a fantastic dancefloor track with some real energy to it, has a nasty whiff of misongyny through the lyrics. Final track All Your Bass Belongs To Us has an almost trancelike build to it, and keeps building and building until it stops on a dime.
So that’s it? Well, if you want to say “that’s it” after 73 minutes of music. Then there is the second CD on top of that, providing another 10 more tracks! Pick of those is the brutal Shut Up and Bleed, featuring LA-based noise act W.A.S.T.E., which is considerably harder than anything else on the CD.
Overall, I have to be honest – this isn’t exactly much of a progression from previous Combichrist albums. But then, does it need to be? People bought the last album in their droves, almost any track from it fills dancefloors everywhere we go, and I don’t see why the same can’t happen with this. So in terms of meeting the expectations of the fans, it is job done. For those who want a little more, you may be a mite disappointed to find service continues as before.