Borghesia - And Man Created God
EBM, New Wave Borghesia, forever consigned to being Slovenia's second most-famous industrial band, are back. And if you're expecting yet-another review of an old EBM band returning after many years away and delivering a well-produced but unoriginal and derivative revival of their old sounds, well, that is not the review I have for you. This one needs a little more critical attention. But first a little bit of history.

I first became aware of Borghesia's return at WGT 2014. Their heritage in EBM secured them second-top slot on Sunday's TheaterFabrik billing between Vomito Negro and Spetsnaz. They duly arrived on stage with guitars, female singers, a full drum kit and not a synth in sight. Within three songs, the room had all but emptied, the body beat crowd voting with their feet and electing to hide out downstairs drinking beer before Sweden's finest Ebb-alikes hit the stage.

I stuck around, as did my girlfriend. She remembered the band in their original two-piece form, owns their classic albums on vinyl and was going to watch this come what may. I, meanwhile, had already seen White Lies on the Friday night, was not remotely scared of those guitar thingys as a result, and hence was willing to give the new Borghesia a go. They might have thrown a curve ball so extreme that it came back and smacked them in the face, but there was also a feeling that there was something of musical value at the heart of this.

And now for the album. The title and artwork show that the socio-political awareness that features throughout Borghesia's history is still present. And musically they still seem to adopt a style befitting a counter-cultural stance. It's just it happens to be 60s hippy rock, not 80s EBM. A meat-eater I may be, but I can still relate to such material, and on opening track "We Don't Believe You", the sedate guitar twang is accompanied by a flatly spoken list of Capitalist terminology, reminiscent of "Fitter Happier" by Radiohead, alternating with the massed voices of the chorus.

"C'est la Guerre" sees the tempo rise, synths take more of a role, and female joint-lead vocals. Add a catchy-as-hell chorus and the end result is an infectious composition that should appeal to anyone who wasn't expecting EBM. This reviewers honeymoon with the new Borghesia's doesn't last, though. "My Life Is My Message" is a comparatively dull grind coloured by a hotch-potch of influences, whilst "Kaufen Macht Frei" is a silly fusion of social comments set to tropical lounge-rock steel guitars.

And then the whole album ignites with "194". Tempos rise once more, middle eastern scales join the mix, whilst the vocals takes the form of a no-holds-barred anti-Israel rant. They're certainly not afraid of sticking their necks out, even when you consider the predominantly Liberal Left leaning target audience that is likely to be sympathetic to such an outburst. Musically, it does serve the purpose of giving the whole album a massive wake-up call.

"Profits, Power and Lies" is as typical of the album as any track could be - synth-infused protest rock littered with musical curios at various points in the mix. "Para Todos To do" is less than the sum of it's parts, a dull drag which menacing guitar plucks and horn sections fail to brighten. "Too Much Is Not Enough" finally sees the electronic roots of Borghesia's come to the fore, another uptempo tunes with a driving synth baseline and all kinds of anger thrown in, even if the end result is not as tight as their earlier masterworks.

The album ends with one final surprise with "Shoot at the Clock!". They finally get the slow grind dynamic to work, with the resultant off-tune synth-guitar combo strangely NIN-esque. It's a surprising end to a surprising album. The validity of Borghesia's new direction isn't for me to question - after a hiatus this long, a shift this radical shouldn't have been a surprise. Indeed, I myself came off a lengthy reviewing break of my own to cover this album, as I knew this particular review would require at least a little understanding of the backstory to truly provide a fair treatment.

But two questions remain. Firstly, can they make their new style work over the course of an album? That's something they've achieved only partially here. And secondly, can they find the right target audience? It didn't work on beer-drinking, pork-eating, army-boot-wearing Anhalters, but further afield there must be some subcultural group that's been waiting for something like this.

Me? I guess I'm just glad they didn't go dubstep.
3
Brutal Resonance

Borghesia - And Man Created God

6.5
"Alright"
N/A
Electroracle
Spotify
Released 2014 by Metropolis Records
Borghesia, forever consigned to being Slovenia's second most-famous industrial band, are back. And if you're expecting yet-another review of an old EBM band returning after many years away and delivering a well-produced but unoriginal and derivative revival of their old sounds, well, that is not the review I have for you. This one needs a little more critical attention. But first a little bit of history.

I first became aware of Borghesia's return at WGT 2014. Their heritage in EBM secured them second-top slot on Sunday's TheaterFabrik billing between Vomito Negro and Spetsnaz. They duly arrived on stage with guitars, female singers, a full drum kit and not a synth in sight. Within three songs, the room had all but emptied, the body beat crowd voting with their feet and electing to hide out downstairs drinking beer before Sweden's finest Ebb-alikes hit the stage.

I stuck around, as did my girlfriend. She remembered the band in their original two-piece form, owns their classic albums on vinyl and was going to watch this come what may. I, meanwhile, had already seen White Lies on the Friday night, was not remotely scared of those guitar thingys as a result, and hence was willing to give the new Borghesia a go. They might have thrown a curve ball so extreme that it came back and smacked them in the face, but there was also a feeling that there was something of musical value at the heart of this.

And now for the album. The title and artwork show that the socio-political awareness that features throughout Borghesia's history is still present. And musically they still seem to adopt a style befitting a counter-cultural stance. It's just it happens to be 60s hippy rock, not 80s EBM. A meat-eater I may be, but I can still relate to such material, and on opening track "We Don't Believe You", the sedate guitar twang is accompanied by a flatly spoken list of Capitalist terminology, reminiscent of "Fitter Happier" by Radiohead, alternating with the massed voices of the chorus.

"C'est la Guerre" sees the tempo rise, synths take more of a role, and female joint-lead vocals. Add a catchy-as-hell chorus and the end result is an infectious composition that should appeal to anyone who wasn't expecting EBM. This reviewers honeymoon with the new Borghesia's doesn't last, though. "My Life Is My Message" is a comparatively dull grind coloured by a hotch-potch of influences, whilst "Kaufen Macht Frei" is a silly fusion of social comments set to tropical lounge-rock steel guitars.

And then the whole album ignites with "194". Tempos rise once more, middle eastern scales join the mix, whilst the vocals takes the form of a no-holds-barred anti-Israel rant. They're certainly not afraid of sticking their necks out, even when you consider the predominantly Liberal Left leaning target audience that is likely to be sympathetic to such an outburst. Musically, it does serve the purpose of giving the whole album a massive wake-up call.

"Profits, Power and Lies" is as typical of the album as any track could be - synth-infused protest rock littered with musical curios at various points in the mix. "Para Todos To do" is less than the sum of it's parts, a dull drag which menacing guitar plucks and horn sections fail to brighten. "Too Much Is Not Enough" finally sees the electronic roots of Borghesia's come to the fore, another uptempo tunes with a driving synth baseline and all kinds of anger thrown in, even if the end result is not as tight as their earlier masterworks.

The album ends with one final surprise with "Shoot at the Clock!". They finally get the slow grind dynamic to work, with the resultant off-tune synth-guitar combo strangely NIN-esque. It's a surprising end to a surprising album. The validity of Borghesia's new direction isn't for me to question - after a hiatus this long, a shift this radical shouldn't have been a surprise. Indeed, I myself came off a lengthy reviewing break of my own to cover this album, as I knew this particular review would require at least a little understanding of the backstory to truly provide a fair treatment.

But two questions remain. Firstly, can they make their new style work over the course of an album? That's something they've achieved only partially here. And secondly, can they find the right target audience? It didn't work on beer-drinking, pork-eating, army-boot-wearing Anhalters, but further afield there must be some subcultural group that's been waiting for something like this.

Me? I guess I'm just glad they didn't go dubstep. Aug 19 2014

Jonny Hall

info@brutalresonance.com
Writer and contributor on Brutal Resonance

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