Album: We Love You
Label: Metropolis Records
Genre: EBM, Aggrotech, Industrial metal
Release Date: 3-25-14
Fresh from scoring the Devil May Cry soundtrack, La Pluega brings forth his first Combichrist release since 2010’s Making Monsters. We Love You opens with “We were Made to Love You”; a monotone, robotic, bittersweet intro which suddenly blasts off, smashing the band’s EBM beat roots straight into speedy thrash metal, reminiscent of Lamb of God, (though such a name-drop may mean little to EBM purists)! This disjointed metal riffage was initially such a surprise I had to listen twice to decide how I felt about it!
This is a direction the band have been investigating more and more in recent albums and LaPluega’s ragged vocals engage with the guitars perfectly - perhaps unsurprisingly, as one of his earliest musical forays was in punk/metal band My Right Choice! This broadening of Combichrist’s scope is, to some, a betrayal of their electro roots, and to others, a vital part of the bands enduring appeal. “Every Day is War” and “Can’t Control” enter more familiar territory, the sort of satisfying uniquely Combichrist output we’ve all grown to know and love and, while these tracks did not grab me by the spine on 1st listen as much as the starkly anthemic euphoria of earlier works such as F$%k that S^&t, they definitely exude that unique blend of fury and ecstasy for which Combichrist is so adored.
“Satan’s Propaganda” brings back the band’s new metal element – it is guttural, visceral, exciting and instantly engaging – you’ll be wrecking your larynx singing along to LaPluega’s shredded howl by the end of the first listen.
To me, Combichrist define confrontation, exemplifying the aggro in aggrotech – their ability to aggravate and entertain simultaneously is one of the few constants across their seven albums to date. This means that, while I am a huge fan, there is at least one point on every album where I become angry AT them! “Maggots at the Party” is my personal bugbear on this album! It’s the sort of nut-grabbing frat-boy-industrial track that they seem to have felt the need to include ever since TODAY WE ARE ALL DEMONS. This bastardised son of techno and industrial is still, annoyingly, very addictive in terms of sound, but the drink-based ‘partay’ style lyrics bug me a bit . . . but maybe I’m just getting old!
I think the band have struck the right balance with this album. Long term fans of the groups militaristic low-brow-high-energy shtick will find plenty here to tingle their spines and tickle their ears, and those feeling bogged down in the stagnation of the hellektro genre will be pleased at the new direction they seem to be taking it in. But be warned; when this album goes off on a tangent, boy does it go off on a tangent!
“The Evil in Me” is a darkly confessional, slowly strummed acoustic (you heard me!) track which at first seems to sit uneasily amid the carnage but by the end seems natural and a vital part of the album’s narrative.
Track eight represents yet another bizarre style shift, bringing in a sprinkling of Crystal Castles esque 8-bit oddness to complement the normal combi-fury. To be honest, with a name as brilliant as “Fuck Unicorns”, I almost don’t care what it sounds like, but thankfully it is also funky, energised and amusing. The album so far is intriguing and challenging and this from a genre and a band that already thrive on controversy and friction.
“Love is a Razorblade” is churning, fast-paced industrial metal ala Rammstein.
“From my Cold Dead Hands” is a chunky-riffed riot which returns to the theme that kicked the project off back in ’03 – The Joy of Gunz
“We Rule the World Motherfuckers” thrashes around a particularly well-baited hook and will be best received by the fans of their original style.
“Retreat Hell Part 1” sees instruments replacing the synths, it is highly reminiscent of Tool’s irregular percussive pace and twanging, thrumming guitars. This is, yet again, going to prove divisive to fans and critics alike.
“Retreat Hell Part 2” finishes off the album with a surly political diatribe – a morose ‘fuck you’ to his critics, drawled to such a degree it is as if he can barely muster the will to respond to these people! This serves as a final reminder that Combichrist the character is not LaPluega the man, and, for one last mindfuck, it suddenly descends into a hallucinatory, electrochemical sonic breakdown
The album includes all the elements you’d expect of the invasively energetic psychopathy which has won them so many fans, but with a bizarre and diverse set of mutations applied. About 30% of the album is Combichrist doing what they do best, giving the fans the arena-filling screamathons they desire, another third combines this with rough-cut metal madness and another 3rd will appear utterly obscure to those who have dared to presume they know the content of Lapluega’s mind!
Combichrist are, to me, like bad speed – energising, maddening, enraging and euphoric during the experience, but leaving you feeling dirty and used afterwards! I believe Laplauega would consider this a compliment as this project is at its most dynamic when pissing off as many people as it’s pleasing. This album is bound to do this; every Combichrist offering thus far is simultaneously an engaging and exciting stomp-fest, and a critical comment on the state of the industrial pantheon. I found it intriguing and exciting. It is necessarily not as immediately addictive as previous offerings, as it is forcing you not only to dance and stomp and scream, but also to challenge yourself, forcing you to absorb and gradually assimilate its myriad weird inputs.
Take a listen: Combichrist- Maggots at the Party
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