Despite many possible contenders, Sascha Konietzko is truly the granddaddy of industrial music. He is to the genre as Lemmy is to rock ‘n’ roll and KMFDM, his baby of 21 years, is industrial’s own Motorhead. The various line-ups have released more albums than you count, even before you include the multiple side-projects of the various members.
Industrial music, evolving in the 80’s from the porno-obsessed Belgian New Beat movement, has always had a sense of fun about it, despite the pitch black lyrical content. As such, Rammstein have always been the natural successors to the legacy left by KMFDM, Front242, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult and the Ministry/Revolting Cocks family. One can only hope, dear Rammstein, that the dubious-sounding Sharleen Spiteri collaboration doesn’t ruin Rosenrot too much – as you’re about to do battle with Hau Ruck.
Since 2002’s Attak they’ve had New Yorker and ex-Drill singer Lucia Cifarelli on board, along with Brits Jules Hodgson, Andy Selway and Steve White who’ve all been involved with KMFDM old-timer Raymond Watts and his PIG project. This lot could write the book on musical incest, not to mention the entire history of their genre – and following their 20th Anniversary tour they’re back on blistering form.
This is KMFDM back to their roots. Though many may think they never left, Hau Ruck captures the playful spirit of a young KMFDM, adds some seriously retro synths, then gives it 21st century production values and a dash of glamour courtesy of Cifarelli. That they’re almost a completely different band now is irrelevant.
From the opening bulldozer blast of Free Your Hate you can tell that KMFDM are having fun. Hau Ruck (German for Heave-Ho) slows the pace down to a ferocious pumped-up New Beat groove, perfect for those on the dance-floor who can’t move any faster thanks to the constrictions of PVC clothing. No such concession on You’re No Good, though, which starts slow only to take off at warp speed before climaxing in some epic guitar work.
New American Century is classic German techno, combined with a scathing duet from Cifarelli and Konietzko attacking our appeasement of American imperialism. This track, and Professional Killer, both invoke comparisons with Hardfloor’s ability to build up a groove and know exactly when to lift it up to another level.
The intensity never lets up. Even when Real Thing threatens to turn into Unbelievable by EMF; even when the Mission Impossible horns blast cheerfully over the explosive melting-pot of noise that is Auf Wederseh’n – it never lets go till the last of 52 minutes of industrial joy. This is the sound of a band that knows exactly what they want to do and proceeds to do it better than anyone else.
So Industrial music is at an interesting point in its 25 year history. Rammstein appear to be wondering what they can do next to match the majesty of Reise Reise and the accompanying stage extravaganza. Nine Inch Nails superstar and industrial pretender Trent Reznor still hasn’t found a sense of humour – though he’s taken to reverently worshipping at the church of Mark E. Smith to create gems such as With-ah Teeth-ah. KMFDM, however, have been irreverently worshipping at the church of themselves. They know they rock (or should that be Ruck?) and for any industrial fan, that makes Hau Ruck essential listening.