Thee Ed expressed a little surprise when I didn’t immediately plump for this album when the lists were released. I had to explain, somewhat embarrassed, that despite my love and long history with industrial and EBM and having been aware of Die Krupps for, what, thirty years and more I had never to the best of my memory sat down with a full album. Long story short it was deemed high time for me to do so.
So here we are. The funny thing is from the little I had heard, the opener and title track is exactly what I was expecting. Pulsing EBM intro before the steamhammer riffs pile down in true Germanic martial fashion. The roots with KMFDM that birthed baby Rammstein, the aggression and political stare that Frontline Assembly bolted on. Dry, barked vocals, pessimistic dystopian lyrics pushing through the chaos that social media and nightmare that turbulent ideocracies create. It’s hard, its dark and it beats you with the message until it hurts. Just like too many people need. ‘Welcome To The Blackout’ pretty much pounds down the same avenue with social cohesiveness collapsing as they pass. ‘Trigger Warning’ adds an earworm to the mix in the same pummelling vein but otherwise is pretty close to its predecessors. Getting a little concerned this was turning into a same sounding mire, the more expansive ‘Wolfen (Her Pack)’ spreads darker, gothic wings with more varied vocals and a little tale of urban wolves. It has a dark melody woven around it but still has teeth in the industrial riffing refrain. It’s well placed on the album, shaking out the sameness that was creeping in.
This makes ‘Extinction Time’ hit harder somehow. More stripped back with a slightly faster tempo and a good bit of swagger. The kind of dancefloor filler at some cybergoth club; apocalyptic lyrics, urgency and the constant machine gun blip of electronica. Musclebound and quite excellent stuff.
And so we come to ‘Carpet Crawlers’. You know the bit where you’re all hot and sweaty and getting your breath back after five martial rounds of hammering? Then this walks up, gives you a wedgie and scuttles off giggling. Yes it is the old Genesis track I realise eventually. I have not a clue what it’s on about even now; some weirdness lost in Mr Gabriel’s head. For those who weren’t force fed such things by teenage friends, it’s a strange, quiet little surreal pop song with a weird nightmare quality, wavering vocals and…soft, kind of sweet and like the harmless madman on the street who has a mesmerizing charisma. It has mad hooks, a wide eyed wonder to the tune and flicks through a shutter show of early Genesis style but with this electronic feel woven in the rug and still the personality of Die Krupps comes through Marvellous cover.
On we go back to the ‘normal’ program. There are times (‘Fires’ with its slightly bland rock feel, ‘DestiNation Doomsday’, ‘Allies’, ‘Active Shooter Situation’ despite its excellent lyrics on ex-military issues) when a little judicial editing of the album length is in order as things either seem to repeat themselves or are not quite up to the standard of the rest. ‘Fuck You’ is probably their reasoned response to me on that, a nice belligerent spit in the face of a certain President too. Simple, right to the point and brutal. ‘Human’ is a cool send off. A cool bit of heavy EBM that rounds off a pessimistic album.
Yeah, this is a fine album for rivetheads. Confident, perfectly produced and overall a masterclass in control and muscular, martial industrial. A little fat trimmed might have helped but I ain’t really complaining. Die Krupps have delivered an album of insight and strident belief in an excellent industrial package. And ‘Carpet Crawlers’ will be wandering around my head for months.
Glad to finally make your acquaintance guys. Very glad.
(8/10 Gizmo) (knock off half a point if you hate Carpet Crawlers…But you’re wrong.)