KMFDM - Hell Yeah
With much of the lineup changing from album to album KMFDM is starting to become a band only in name. Functionally there are only two members: founder Sascha Konietzko and his wife Lucia Cifarelli who has been with the band since 2002’s Attak. Judging from the title Hell Yeah should be a defiant declaration, an angry proclamation, the beginning of a revolution, or the end of a manifesto (shouldn’t it end with an exclamation mark?). It’s a shout, it’s a yell, but it never screams.
'Hell Yeah' is a catchy dance number with solid guitar. It is not quite the devastating opening we might expect, but it’s decent. 'Freak Flag' utilizes midrange vocals that are neither high enough nor growl enough. It’s a middle of the road offering, which is the case for most of the Hell Yeah tracks Lucia sings lead on. 'Oppression 1/2' and 'Oppression 2/2' are both unnecessary interludes that only serve to boost the number of tracks. In 'Total State Machine' the chorus speeds up but the verses plod as Sascha informs us that "the government hates you."
'Murder my Heart' is a total drip of a tune and the album’s nadir; it sounds like a show tunes number. I can imagine Lucia using jazz hands as she sings it. 'Shock' is pretty good but it wants to be a pop tune. In other words, 'Shock' is not shocking. 'Only Lovers' features the best vocals from Lucia on Hell Yeah. 'Fake News' is okay but it feels like a B-side. 'Burning Brain' is a heavier track with some tasty riffs and a heavy chorus. When Sascha says, “Don’t turn your back on me,” we dare not look away. 'Glam Glitz Guts & Gore' with its rapid-fire drums and guitar riffs is a strong close to the album.
KMFDM has done a lot - not all - of this before and done it better. While Hell Yeah is inconsistent and some of the tracks falter, it’s good to see KMFDM take some chances and not play it so safe. However, the range of material results in a somewhat disjointed album that sounds like two different projects - Sascha’s and Lucia’s - blended together. That the vocals alternate on almost every track may be an attempt at cohesion.
Hell Yeah will validate your anger but it won’t stir, incite, on increase it. For the next one they should create a blitzkrieg; a complete assault of an album called Fuck You!!! that pisses off everyone including its listeners. Be brutal. I know they can do it. It’s probably just a dream that Sascha and some of the former members such as Raymond Watts who contributed so much to previous works will come together and make one more classic, ball-busting, statue-toppling album, but KMFDM is all about rejecting the status quo and hoping for change.
Oct 11 2017
I am Professor of English at Beacon College. I still buy compact discs.
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