Combichrist are back with yet another foray into the worlds of industrial, electronica and metal, this time creating a disc that actually doesn’t cause me to look away in disappointment. Reason being, as much as I’ve loved industrial, electronica (synthwave especially these days) and metal music, I never felt that Combichrist offered a very solid version of it.
They’ve always felt hokey and simplistic, which is why I appreciate the drastic course change they’ve made here. How drastic, you ask? Well, for starters, the bombastic folk-ballad “Bottle Of Pain” lacks even an instance of electronic, industrial, or metallic elements, regardless of the fact that it feels completely natural for them. If that sounds disappointing, then rest assured, you’ll find plenty of system-bashing industrial numbers in “Hate Like Me,” “Broken United” (which lyrically feels a bit adolescent to me, but I would figure that it may be geared to a disenfranchised younger audience), and “Guns At Last Night” which can be defined as just another day at the office for these guys.
However, when we arrive at “Lobotomy,” we find the band picking up more of an electronic vibe that seems a bit far-removed from their normal, high-octane melds of metal and synth. The song almost takes on a bit of a club atmosphere, which, again, works quite well for them.
There will certainly be a few Combichrist fans displeased by a couple of songs here, and even I feel that such pieces like “2045” and “Interlude” seem a bit like afterthoughts in the long run. I’m not sure what’s going on with the punk vibes of “California Uber Alles” either, but “Last Days Under The Sun” at least carries an authentic aggro-tech vibe that reminds me of early Grendel. There aren’t very many acts attempting that style these days, so it’s good to see Combichrist carrying it forward.
The final song here, “The Other,” seems to have as great of an emotional impact as “Bottle Of Pain” almost sounding like a completely different band altogether—and that’s a good thing, because I think that Combichrist were in danger of sounding too much like Combichrist. It’s fine to pave the road a few times, especially when people seem to enjoy it, but variety is the spice of life, and One Fire definitely seems to embody that.
While there are definite heavy numbers here, the disc isn’t quite as fiery as one might expect. I simply wouldn’t have it any other way. I greatly appreciate the fact that these guys are thinking out of the box, even if it proves detrimental to their fanbase as a whole. Music must evolve, and this album is a fine example of that.