CD Review of Blitz by KMFDM
KMFDM: Blitz
Recommended if you like
Ministry, Skinny Puppy,
Mindless Self Indulgence
Label
Metropolis Records
KMFDM: Blitz

Reviewed by James B. Eldred

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G
oing strong(ish) for nearly a quarter of a century, KMFDM have survived numerous line-up changes, one breakup, copyright infringement battles and even their classic “Juke Joint Jezebel” showing up in an episode of “90210” and the Will Smith/Martin Lawrence classic “Bad Boys.”

Blitz is the band's 16th album, and hardcore KMFDM fans (there have to be a few left) will probably be excited even before even listening to it for a few reasons. There's the title, for starters: Blitz has the band returning to their five-letter word title structure, a tradition they began with UAIOE in 1989 and kept up until WWIII in 2003. It's also the first album by the group since 2002's Attak to feature programmer and multi-instrumentalist Tim Skold. Normally things like this would signal a return to a classic sound, but since KMFDM haven't really changed their sound since the late ’80s, that's really not the case here.

In fact, Bltiz sounds a lot like their previous record, Tohuvabohu, which in turn sounded like Hau Ruck, which sounded like WWIII, and so on and so forth. With a KMFDM record you know what you're going to get; grinding guitars and hard synths mixed with sick/funny lyrics all put over a pounding beat that typically matches like the tempo of a foot bashing a guy's face in. For both good and bad, it's industrial music at its more simplistic, simultaneously dance floor and mosh pit-friendly.

KMFDM is like Ministry in that once they found a sound that brought them even the smallest modicum of success, they refused to change it. And, just like Ministry, that has brought a steady stream of albums that, with rare exception, practice the law of diminishing returns. It was fresh, fun and exciting in 1990 with Naïve; now, not so much.

In fact, now KMFDM sound less like the innovators they at one point were and more like the lesser groups they no doubt influenced. The supposedly outrageous lyrics of “Me and My Gun” and “Bitches” sound like pale versions of Mindless Self Indulgence tunes, while other tunes such as “Bait And Switch” and “People Of The Lie” are too boring to even be called that.

If the lackluster original tunes weren't enough of a sign that KMFDM is running out of ideas, they also cover the Human League's early single “Being Boiled.” If your only exposure to the Human League is their mid-80s pop output, then this song about Buddhists killing kids will probably be a shocker. It was already a pretty heavy, semi-industrial song when the League did it in 1978, and KMFDM's attempt at turning it into a dance tune actually tones it down. That's right, the Human League's version of a song is more industrial and hardcore than KMFDM's. Ouch.

Still, it's better than the pop-tart ready “Strut.” KMFDM have gotten a bit glossier and more pop-friendly over the years (at least as pop-friendly as a metal/dance outfit can get) but “Strut” takes their quest for dance club acceptance way too far. This isn't a KMFDM song, it's a Kelly Clarkson or Beyonce song with extra guitars plugged in. It's a shocking misstep, one that will have fans scratching their heads with one hand and hitting the skip button with another.

On Blitz KMFDM sound best when working with their native German tongue, probably because anything in German sounds scary and intense when screamed over an industrial beat (ask Tool). “Davai” and “Potz Blitz!” are both entirely in German, so the silly lyrics that dominate the rest of the album aren't an issue here (at least for non-German audiences). The group also avoids their lyrical shortcomings on the closing track “Take'm Out,” which is nearly an instrumental, focusing mostly on pounding beats and industrial effects - two things that KMFDM should have stuck to for the 10 tracks preceding it.

If you bought any KMFDM album from the late ’80s or ’90s then you've heard everything on Blitz, and you've heard it done better. This is strictly for the hardcore.

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