‘Paradise’ marks KMFDM’s 21st album in 35 years. While Wikipedia includes them in the lit of acts who sit in the electro-industrial bracket which was, it states, pioneered by Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly in the mid-80s, KMFDM, formed in February 1984 were at the forefront of the style that melded hi-NRG electro with metal guitars – and all industrial-strength, of course.
Al Jourgensen and Trent Reznor would take a good while to catch up, and were still dishing out flimsy 80s synth pop for a long time after the definitive Wax Trax! band had pumped out heir first 2 or 3 albums.
Over their three and a half decades in existence, KMFDM have proven to be less of a band in the conventional sense, and more of an ever-shifting collective, and the personnel listed on ‘Paradise’
Sascha “Käpt’n K” Konietzko has been at the band’s core since the first album, ‘Opium’ in ‘84 and remains a constant, while sidekick Lucia Cifarelli has been present since 2002. Perhaps the most notable name in the extensive roll-call fs that of founder member Raymond Watts, making his return after some 16 years, featuring on ‘Binge Boil & Blow’.
KMFDM are one of those bands people tend to be rabid for, or not that fussed, although I’m something of an exception in that I dig what they do, but in moderation. But to criticise them for being a bit formulaic would be erroneous, since they pretty much created their template: it would be the same as complaining that The Fall sound too much like The Fall, or Melvins sound too much like Melvins. So while the simple fact of the matter is that ‘Paradise’ sounds like a KMFDM album, what else would you expect? But then again, it does contain a few surprise stylistic departures, and is all the better for it.
‘K-M-F’, with its refrain of ‘kill motherfucker’ surging between gloopy synth bass, driving, treble-heavy, overdriven guitars and a proliferation of samples, kicks the album off in strong, if archetypal style. Hard n its heels, ‘No Regret’ melds the blasting stop/start guitar abrasion of Ministry’s ‘Stigmata’ with frenetic drum ‘n’ bass, and is pretty standard, but ‘Paradise’ shifts suddenly from a driving attack to a dubby stroll with spaced-out brass that owes more to The Ruts and The Selecter than anything in the techno / industrial / EBM fields. ‘No God’ later revisits this territory, with additional firework whizzing electronics.
Despite its cheesy title, ‘Oh My Goth’ displays an unusual degree of both sensitivity while drawing on vintage post-punk tropes: it’s got Leeds circa 85 all over it. Elsewhere, ‘WDYWB’ slides into commercial dancefloor disco that’s pretty badly dated, reminiscent of the worst of 90s dance sun through a filter of Utah saints – if I’m being kind.
Having operated under the PIG moniker since departing KMFDM, and establishing himself as the glam-inspired successor to JG Thirlwell as well as the master of alliteration, the Raymond Watts-led ‘Binge Boil & Blow’ is classic Watts: his sound is distinctive, and it could be PIG, it could be KMFDM, it could be... well it could be anything, but nothing that wasn’t a Watts project. And it forms an essential part of an eclectic blend.
‘Paradise’ sounds like KMFDM. But it sounds like KMFDM pushing their boundaries, and it’s an exciting and varied album that shows they’re far from spent in creative terms.