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Non-Prog CD Reviews

KMFDM

WWIII

Review by Mike Korn

KMFDM have been hovering around the edges of my musical awareness for a decade now. I knew who they were and I sure noticed all the goth/punk kids wearing their distinctive cartoony T-shirts but I never bothered to listen to them. What was I missing? One listen to their latest "WWIII" and I am hooked on this band. This is some of the best industrial rock/metal ever created...right up there with the best of Ministry and Prong!

The key to "WWIII" is its diversity and incredible catchiness. Each of the 12 tracks is completely distinct from the other, with a tremendous range in styles. Some tracks are definitely more metal based while others swirl around electronic beats and synthetic tones. Vocal variation is also integral to this attraction...the electronically distorted vocals of band leader "Kap'N K" are gruff and gritty, while female singer Lucia Cifrelli has the voice of an angel. These two vocals approaches contrast with each other and occasionally even work in surprising harmony.

I'm hard pressed to recall any recent album, even amongst my other faves this year, where every song has melodies, hooks and riffs so memorable. They literally embed themselves in your brain...the mantra-like declarations of the title track, Lucia's seductive croonings on "Last Things", the angry chorus of "Bullets, Bombs, Bigotry" and the final hilarious proclamations of "Intro" are all unforgettable examples of catchy songwriting. Yet they never sink to the level of mainstream pop. The underlying aggression of the album is always present. Especially in the sarcastic, laugh-out-loud lyrics, which mercilessly lambaste the political stupidities and absurdities of the present regime of world leaders. This is a great record with wide appeal across many genre lines. As the band themselves say: "Nothing new/It's the same old s#$%/ When it works this well/Why f^&* with it?"

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
WWIII
We hear the sound of a hillbilly taking a swig from a jug of moonshine and then a really dirty bluegrass lick comes in with banjo and acoustic. What the heck? Well, hang on, because there's an electronic bleep and then the killer thrash riffing starts. It's a headbanging barrage reminiscent of Ministry's "Jesus Built My Hot Rod". Kap'n K's lyrics declare war on just about everything while gal singer Lucia screams out "World War 3, be all that you can be!" This is scathing political rock at its best, with plenty of silly sound bites from President Bush. "I declare war on MTV and CNN/McDonald's, Walt Disney and Bethlehem/Christina, Brittany and Eminem!"
From Here On Out
This is a more subdued number with the guitars not as up front as they were on the title track. Lucia Cifrelli takes center stage on vocals and boy, can she sing. A very sexy and seductive voice, crooning gloomy lyrics over an insistently throbbing bass line. The chorus manages to be quite heavy and also memorable with its repeated refrain of "Want what you want/When you want it".
Blackballed
A spooky synth tone introduces this driving techno track. The electronically distorted whisper that cackles the lyrics reminds me a lot of Skinny Puppy. A harsh guitar manifests itself on the chorus, which is one of the catchiest on the album. Just try to get it out of your head. It's a very ominous cut.
Jihad
Characterized by a choppy, staccato feel and tumbling drum runs, this is scratchy industrial rock with an evil feel to it. Noisy and cybernetic, it's the shortest track on the record.
Last Things
I love the sheer heaviness of this track and the way Lucia's dreamy vocals float over the top of a doomy, crushing metal riff. That verse riff is just outstanding! The drums are on constant attack. It builds up to a really powerful and catchy chorus full of energy where Lucia demands "Where does the sacrifice end?" This is a tremendous track.
Pity The Pious
The band stumbles here with this slow, bass-driven number. They try to create a sleazy, grinding atmosphere but instead, it's syrupy and monotonous. Most embarrassing is the barrage of orgasmic female shrieks at track's end. Instead of being enticing, they just wound up overdone and repellent.
Stars and Stripes
This is more like it. A withering condemnation of America's war on terror, this is built over a surging combo of metal riffs and electronic beats. Another tremendously appealing chorus makes this a memorable cut. The alternation between K's distorted vocals and Lucia's clear singing is really cool! "Whip up a frenzy/keep them suspended/Don't let 'em know/Their liberty has ended"
Bullets, Bombs, Bigotry
The intensity keeps up with this one, which starts with a hammering assault right away. The track has a kind of rockabilly feel to it, complete with almost Elvis-like vocals and a harmonica solo. But overall, it's a hard and heavy track where the chorus tells tales of "Sex, sin, sodomy/Terror, torture, tyranny /Power, pills, politics/Bullets, Bombs, Bigotry"
Moron
Another sarcastic salute to our commander in chief, this ups the level of fury even further. An electronic intro segues into a fast head banger that will have you jumping around your bedroom. The chorus manages to make a stream of insults like "Ignoramus/Dimwit Idiot" sound like the gospel truth. Another one of the album's best.
Revenge
I didn't know quite what to make of this one. It starts with Bowie-like vocals over a drifting Gothic riff similar to the Cure. Then some chugging guitar comes in and the song sports combination male/female vocals that give it almost a soul/gospel feel. It's broken up with occasional electric beeps. It's a little too unfocused for me, despite the fact I like the vocal approach.
Intro
The irony of ending an album with a song called "Intro" is not lost on  me. But they managed to save the best for last with this one. The lyrics are absolutely hilarious and had me laughing out loud, as Kap'N K introduces the members of his band in the most overdone and sleazy fashion possible. The lyrics themselves would have made the song a winner, but they are combined with a really headbanging industrial/metal cut. This is brilliant! Here's a sample of the lyrics: "The one and only/The great Steve White/ His morals are Loose/But his shorts are tight/Challenged by few/Rivaled by None/He's a lowdown dirty Son of a Gun". The rest of it I will leave for you to discover!
 
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