For many of the younger generation in the EBM scene, this band seems like they've been around since the dawn of time. For those of us that grew up to this music through our teenage years they have legendary status. They took electronics and the attitude of the fading punk scene to create their staccato, writhing, throbbing, pulsating electronic loops and dominating vocal chants and created Electronic Body Music.
Originally formed in 1982 by Douglas McCarthy and Bon Harris. Many of us may remember feeling the music of this band take us away, sometimes in the early days of mosh pits alongside Ministry, Front 242 and others with memorable hits such as "Murderous", "Join in the Chant", "Lightning Man" and others. After a taste of these tracks we were hooked on this music and this band and since then have enjoyed each memorable album through their discography of That Total Age, Belief, Showtime, Ebbhead and Big Hit.
The years that followed saw the birth of a thriving industrial, gothic and EBM scene, but as the years went by, there was definitely something missing, one of the main founders of the EBM genre itself. Over the years the music scene has survived well, but after a decade of inactivity as a band (though many were active among other projects), they reunited for a show and decided to keep the spirit alive and bring together another album. Fifteen years since their last studio album we finally have Industrial Complex, appropriately named and sounding as if they never missed a day, picking right up where they left off with their previous work so many years ago. Readers and listeners should be very familiar with this band and related genres. Be sure to catch selections from the new album as well as many classics on the Gothic Paradise club mix radio show.
Industrial Complex - Review
As far as comeback albums go, this trio has done a pretty good job at it. Like was mentioned above, they really sound like they've just picked up where they left off with their previous album. It doesn't sound dated as if they were just trying to resurrect a hit from the past, but rather continue to move forward with their tried and true sound, though building on it as they've done before. And it's not just a short EP, or revisitation on past tracks, but a dozen brand new pieces that fans should really enjoy.
From the first pulsating synths and driving beats on "Promises", the sound is immediately recognizable, not just McCarthy's vocals, but all of the elements put together. This first track quickly became a favorite and through first few pieces I felt like a teenager again, discovering EBM for the first time all over again. The intensity and tempo is quite diverse on this album, definitely a contrast from their early work on That Total Age where it was just one driving chanting piece after another. The intensity on a few pieces are at this level such as the aforementioned "Promises" and "Down on Your Knees". The edgy driving mix of synths and drums comes out on slower-tempoed, yet high intensity pieces like "Never Kown" provide some diverse intensity. And something that seems a little rare is a slow, somber piece "Going Away". I would definitely say that Douglas McCarthy does not have what you would call a great voice, yet somehow he makes it work, it's more for the high energy, previously mentioned pieces, but when he sings this ballad, surprisingly enough, you can listen to it and enjoy it as Nitzer Ebb. This same downtempo ballad-like style appears later in the form of "I Am Undone" which does slowly build to a final driving climax.
We hear a few other diverse pieces on this disc before it wraps up. Favorites include pieces of all the different styles. For those that like to look back and enjoy the early days of driving EBM, "Promises", "Down on Your Knees", "I Don't Know You" and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" round out the anthem-like pieces. Other tracks are more melodic, but don't really lose the intensity much like "Once You Say", "Hit You Back" and "My Door Is Open". Another favorite of mine that doesn't seem like it fits on a Nitzer Ebb album at all is the finale "Traveling". It has a groovy little folk-like rhythm and melodic vocals that really rounds out the album nicely. I think this album was probably a big challenge for the band to come up with just the right material without disappointing old or new fans. Overall I think they've done a good job and I think they will find many new fans as well as pleasing those that have been around all these years.
Label: Major Records