10/02/2011

KMFDM - 'Nihil'


Title: Nihil
Artist: KMFDM
Date: 1995
Genre: EBM with large metal influences.

Total length: 49 minutes / 11 tracks
Download Link (MP3 VBR v0)

Main Personnel:
Sascha Konietzko – electronics, vocals G√ľnter Schulz – guitars, vocals
En Esch – vocals, guitar, drums
Raymond Watts – vocals
Mark Durante – steel guitar, guitars
Dorona Alberti - Female vocals

Lyrics: Konietzko is credited for all songs, but in most cases the other band members helped as well.

Rating 8/10 - Excellent

I'm a longtime fan of KMFDM, I just think they make some of the best music to have on the background. The upbeat dance beats and god-like guitar textures just make it perfect. It's not my favorite music for an attentive listening session, but it's great for writing an essay (or a blog, apparently) or gaming.
I don't particularly agree with their political views (i.e. 'rip the system') but that doesn't matter; I just love their music so damn much I wouldn't care whether they are 'revolutionists, hippies or racists.



On a related note: have you ever experienced the strong associative powers of music? When you listen to a certain album a lot when doing an activity you start associating them. I actually started replaying Garry's Mod when listening to KMFDM again last week. I have similar associations with other games. E.g. Minecraft and The Beatles, Fallout and Bob Dylan or Oblivion and Gorillaz.

01 - Ultra It starts off with a nice electronic beatless intro featuring some sort of machinery. A little while later the drums come in and make the song pretty energetic and upbeat. It then starts with Kapt'n K's (Konietzko) vocals.
The lyrics are fairly typical to Industrial and feature pain and disgust as the main theme. "And when you peel back my eyes I see the pain and feel alive" is repeated multiple times. I can't comment on its deeper meanings, but it does feature the feeling of anger and disgust perfectly when pronounced.
For those unfamiliar with Industrial Metal: the vocals are not at all very fast and aggressive as in death/black metal. They rather are a bit slower and more distorted. They are pretty much at the pace of regular speech and feature less tonal differences than the vocals from most other genres. This somehow deepens the accusing affect on the listener, almost as if the artist is showing its disgust towards its own listeners.

In the middle of the song there is a sudden drop of all the other instruments and the vocals come through very strongly. This is followed by an early heavy metal-like guitar solo; a bit boring if you ask me. The song continues at a fairly repetitive and regular pace. Nota bene that this is not a bad thing, it's just the genre that's like this. It makes perfect background music, and the energetic beat is very good to dance to.

02 - Juke Joint Jezebel This is their best sold hit up until now. And I can understand why, it really is one of their best pieces. The piece starts with an upbeat electronic beat and vocals switching between Kapt'n K and Schulz. The vocals start off plenty emotion.
Directly after that the chorus comes in with a very catchy guitar chord. The chorus ends with a drop of the guitar and the music returning to only the beat. Followed by this is are similar vocals to the beginning of the piece and a short instrumental part. The song pretty much continues in the same way for its entirety.
The beat is excellent on this song. It just adds so much energy and force you to at least bob your head. Additionally the rytmic guitars on the background are sweet and possibly done better by KMFDM that any other band I have ever heard.

03 - Flesh Again a rhythmically excellent song. The rhythmic guitar and beat are once again unsurpassable, and the vocals ain't bad either. Not much more can be said about this song, because it's so similar to other songs on the album.
One specific thing though; the heavy metal melodic guitar at the end of the song and the energy in the vocals there is excellent. This is fairly similar to most good metal, but in this way I can genuinely enjoy it. I'm not much of a metal head, and this is as hard as I'm usually willing to go.

04 - Beast Good intro with an excellent beat and short guitar solo. The vocals that follow are a bit weak though. They lack the emotion that you can enjoy at other songs in the album, and it's been put a bit on the background. The chorus on the other hand is excellent; it really is right in your face and with fairly good lyrics too. The lyrics are pretty much about a man who is abused by the system and unrightfully called a sick radical terrorist.
The famous line "I'm a man Who's Sick - But I got class, 'coz you only get respect when your'e kicking ass." is also sung. I just love it, and I'm happy this is repeated over several songs in multiple albums. It's originally from the excellent Kickin' Ass on the album What Do You Know, Deutschland?.

05 - Terror Fun! A song about terrorism. The track opens with 'Some people call them terrorists - these boys have simply been misguided'. I think this song aims to describe the reasons why a terrorist could do such a horrible thing. However they try to put it in good light and go hatin' on 'the evil system' which made them that way. I can't really agree with the underlying politics, but an interesting message that should be considered.
Other than that the beats and rhythmic guitars are very similar to the rest of the album. It's hard to distinguish between them with my limited musical terminology, so I'll just all call them excellent (because they are).

06 - Search & Destroy A very metal-like song. The drums and beats are heavy metal on this song, but not as piercing as the real deal. The upbeat vocals and beats once again just want to make you bob your head. The lyrics are once again about the people being controlled by the system and that they should revolt to make everything better. A bit naive if you ask me (ha! Funnily enough one of their best albums is called 'naive'. I hope they realized the irony).

07 - Disobedience This song starts with a more Industrial style. That is: a slow and piercing beat. The chorus has a very sweet trumpet and saxophone on the background. The vocals are very much filled with emotion.
I think this song is about doing all sorts of evil stuff with a fake underlying reasons. I.e. lying to yourself as to blind yourself to what you are actually doing.
The following stanza is excellent:
"This is the throne where hatred keeps
What is sown is never reaped
This is the blindness that you need
This is the vein on which you feed"
They vocals on this song are sung as if sung by a madman. This greatly enhances the meaning of the lyrics, and is something done quite commonly in Industrial. A great example of this is Nine Inch Nail's 'Pretty Hate Machine'.

08 - Revolution Once again a very typical song. Nothing good nor bad relative to the other songs on the album. The lyrics form an excellent poem, but sadly it carries the same old meaning of revolution.

09 - Brute This song blends the feelings of disgust and pain with love, something (in my opinion) industrial is king in. If you love this as much as I do, do listen to Coil or Nine Inch Nails.
Other than the excellent lyrics (especially the emotion) there is not much notable about it. Just the usual energetic beat and sweet rythmic guitar.

10 - Trust A bit weak song compared to the rest of the album. The vocals lack the emotion they should have. It get's better when the female vocals join in to the chorus though. It ends with a long silence preceding the title song of the album.

11 - Nihil This song starts with pink noise wah-wahing between the channels. On the background is an industrial beat and the entire piece slowly fades out. A bit Merzbow-esque, but in a good way. It is a nice ending to an album.

The Verdict The album is excellent overall. The political message of 'Rip the system' is a bit naive and boring. I think very few musical pieces can beat the rythmic guitar and energetic beat shared among most songs on this albums. The lyrics generally aren't very deep in my opinion, but they gain bonus points for the excellent emotional vocals portraying hatred and disgust.
Albums like this make me realize how sad it is that KMFDM turned to a more EBM sound over the recent years. It just does not suit them; although the dance sound is pretty much their trademark, they shouldn't overdo it.

Word count: 1,500

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