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KMFDM - Hell Yeah

Format: Download
Released: 2017
Label: earMUSIC
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 9/10

Reviewer's note: KMFDM have never been 100% Metal, but their hooky Industrial sound has always been heavy. I think they have some strong crossover appeal, and - - SPOILER ALERT - - the new album is pretty kick ass. -Jack


The album-opening title track on “Hell Yeah” is a pretty good, unremarkable, by-the-numbers Industrial song. Given the uninspired record title and easily likable first song, I started off with a momentary concern that KMFDM were just phoning it to fulfill some contractual obligation. I'm happy to report that this is not the case - - or even if it is - - they still managed to create a pretty strong album, worthy of their esteemed legacy. There wasn't one moment on "Hell Yeah" where my dubiousness flipped to acceptance, my approval just gradually settled in while listening, as one good song followed upon another.
KMFDM are among the elder royalty of the Industrial Metal genre. Their sound also skews closely to Industrial Pop superstars, Depeche Mode, which is funny, considering the dispelled urban myth that KMFDM is an acronym for "Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode."* This album definitely evokes a strong connection to DM, as well as early nine inch nails, and the best of Al Jourgensen's work, especially with Ministry. On "Hell Yeah," KMFDM bring material that has one eye on the past, as if the entirety of it would fit perfectly on the original soundtrack for The Crow (the Brandon Lee one. Come on.), and one eye on the present, effectively borrowing elements from Dubstep and current headlines.
The new album continues the KMFDM template of smirking, artsy social commentary over thick synths and distorted guitars, with alternating male and female vocals that are sometimes, spoken, sometimes bullhorn aggressive, sometimes clean. The beats are never less than intense, even on slower numbers like "Only Lovers," but they primarily stick to the danceable thump that they helped to make a hallmark of the Industrial genre. The lyrical content does sometimes come across as a bit heavy-handed and/or ham-fisted, as in "Freak Flag" or "Fake News," but these are still decent songs and their hearts are in the right places. . . . and the bluntness of their hammers can sometimes create powerful sparks, as in the "Your government hates you" chorus of "Total State Machine.” The latter of these seems to be intended as a showcase track, but I’m personally more drawn to the beauty of “Only Lovers,” the catchy hooks of “Shock” and “Burning Brain” (that could make Trent Reznor salivate), and the spit and vinegar of “Rx For the Damned.”
I like it.

*Per Wikipedia, KMFD stands for ‘Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid, "loosely" translated by the band as "no pity for the majority."’ Cool, although I have a few alternative English acronym suggestions for them:

Kings Make For Difficult Monarchs
Kick Me For Doing Meth
Klaus Meine's Friends Drink Marzen
Kiss My Flying Drunk Monkey
Kilts Make For Drafty Manbits

Or. . . . maybe they should just stick with the original German meaning. . .


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