Metropolis Records 2002
Review by Nicholas Foley.
KMFDM, an abbreviation whose meaning is known to few, and whose music is known to even fewer. In the span of eighteen years, KMFDM, the project led by ringleader Sascha Konietzko and propelled by numerous "guest" performances, has sold roughly just over a million records, which is intriguing because even from square one, they've had a distinct sound which could have easily held crossover appeal. From 1986's "What Do You Know Deutschland?" to 1999's penultimate farewell album "Adios", KMFDM has fused an edgy mix of hard beats, the industrial trademark vocal distortion, metal guitar licks and melodic female backing vocals all topped off by Sascha's adptitude at the mixing board and long time contributor Aidan Hughue's conceptual comic book-esque cover art. Evidently, KMFDM have shown technological prowess, even if Sascha and companies songwriting capabilities are fairly limited, but they've always held down a successful formula, and as some say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". In this case, I agree.
KMFDM supposedly broke up early 1999, only to reform as the reversely titled MDFMK. After a short stint with that project, Sascha has returned to the fray against major label politics and released the new album "Attak" under the KMFDM moniker, if only for monetary reasons, which is ironic because he's always been outspoken when it comes to the issue of art versus commodity, and it's seemingly apparent he made this choice for the aforementioned reason because this new incarnation of KMFDM is missing the two core members who were partially responsible for the band's sound and underground success. The musicians you'll find on this album have all had their ties to the industrial scene and those who haven't, should be quite familiar to those who know the band: Tim Skold (vocals, guitar, and programming), Raymond Watts (vocals and programming), Bill Rieflin (drums, bass, programming, etc.), Julian Hodgeson (guitar) and Lucia Cifarelli (vocals) among others make up a very substantial part of this albums sound, and losses aside, "Attak" only suffers a couple of minor drawbacks, because it makes for a good, solid piece of work, and it's an accomplishment that a lot of these songs were composed via studios spread all over the map, for various collaborations were sent back and forth through the magic of FedEx and this practice turned out to be unnoticeable. That's electronic-based music for you.
The first track, "Attak/Reload" opens the album with the organic sounds of Rieflin's drumming and leads to some fantastic synthwork and nice vocal interplay between Sascha and his newest addition to KMFDM, Lucia Cifarelli, who's voice takes a while to grow on you, but when it does, you'll probably enjoy it. "Skurk" is a nice mix of the old and the new, featuring an anthemic chorus and a lovely keyboard solo towards the middle. "Dirty" also proves that KMFDM still have some energetic life left in them and that they can kick things "old school"-- Raymond Watts, a founder of the band, fuels the track with his deep, burly snarl. The album wanes toward the fourth or so track, but it doesn't lose its luster. "Save Me" is probably the most commercial song KMFDM has ever written, and would gain the band some mainstream recognition if it was released as a single. The same can also be said for the Garbage-inspired "Superhero" with its jungle beats and emo like chord structure. "Preach/Pervert" is a welcome return to the sounds of 1995's "Nihil" album which notably, was also the most commercially popular. Finally, "Sleep" is the brainchild of the multi-talented Bill Rieflin, who perfectly juxtaposes the quiet sound of drum, bass and sultry female vocals with the loud, bombastic chorus.
Considering that Sascha Konietzko hasn't produced a truly great record in a long time, I'm not disappointed with "Attak". It didn't turn out to be the album we were initially promised, but I really have few complaints about it. The only track I could do without is the uninspired, "Risen" which has been done before, and better on prior albums, but all in all, it's a good record.
4 out of 5.
1. Attak/Reload (Konietzko/Cifarelli)
2. Skurk (Konietzko/Skold)
3. Dirty (Konietzko/Rieflin/Watts/Hodgeson)
4. Urban Monkey Warfare (Konietzko/Cifarelli)
5. Save Me (Konietzko/Skold)
6. Yo Ho Ho (Konietzko/Cifarelli/Watts)
7. Superhero (Konietzko/Cifarelli)
8. Sturm and Drung (Konietzko/Skold)
9. Preach/Pervert (Konietzko/Watts)
10. Risen (Konietzko/Skold)
11. Sleep (Konietzko/Cifarelli/Watts)