KMFDM might be the first band in recorded history to release an exceptional 20th record. Yes, you read that correctly, Hell Yeah will be the German industrial groups 20th studio album to date. With an eclectic, intense blend of industrial rock, metal, and electro dance, it isn’t surprising that the band has managed to cultivate an extremely loyal following within their niche. However, similarly, to industrial metal giants Rammstein and fellow Industrial pioneers Nine Inch Nails, the group’s fearlessness towards its principles and approach to songwriting has given them a global and diverse fan base. Hell Yeah is a fine record, not because it takes any crazy risks, but because it is a perfect example of a band executing its own meticulously crafted style without apathy or laziness. Though there are some tracks that are rather corny, it’s obvious the group’s core, husband and wife duo Sascha Konietzko and Lucia Cifarelli, are still wired with the same anarchistic, unrepentant anger that has fueled them through the 90s.
Hell Yeah takes a few songs to really hit its stride. Title track and first single “Hell Yeah” sounds like the musical embodiment of an aging c-list wrestler, relying too much on its cliché sing-along chorus. While it won’t turn away any of the bands hardcore fans, it’s a strange song to choose to start the album with, given the ferocity of some of the other tracks. “Freak Flag” the albums second song which was also featured on the preceding EP is another mildly catchy electro jam that doesn’t seem to quite capture the essence of the rest of the album. However, with “Total State Machine”, you feel like KMFDM is back in their comfort zone, not seeking to placate but to annihilate. It is an example of their best: driving guitars, glitchy synths and a massive hammering beat. The message is simple, repetitive, raw and inciting, “The government hates you, the government hates you. Hate your government.” Like all KMFDM releases, the lyrics are either fiercely political or pop culture critical. Tracks “Rx 4 the Dammed” and “GLAM, GLITZ, GUTS, AND GORE” follow the same musical recipe as “Total State Machine.” The deep guttural voice and harsh yelling chorus’s seem made to incite a riot. It’s with the effectiveness of a great orator that he squeezes out a feeling of rage you knew you never had with such simple language. Even so, this line between perfect angsty anthem and cringe inducing Dance Metal what-the-fuck-am-I-listening to question mark has always been incredibly fine. Thankfully the sum of KMFDM’s parts is much more than heavy smashing riffs and beats. The juxtaposition between Lucia’s deep voice and Sascha’s has always been one of the focal points of KMFDM. In past releases it has been an absolute saving grace. One side of their sound cannot be appreciated fully without the other. Lucia stands out on tracks “Murder My Heart” and “Shock”, with her evocative and retro inspired melodies and lyrics channeling the horror pop ghosts of Alice Cooper and older Misfits. They’re dark, sexy and an excellent break from the intensity of the more guitar driven songs which can be grating, especially when they’re back to back to back. These tracks are as fun as KMFDM gets on Hell Yeah, swapping the distorted guitar for intertwining synths and more intricate danceable drum beats. In the end, it’s this bilateral aspect to their music that makes this record enjoyable. Without the other Hell Yeah would be too much of one thing.
Given the political reality we all live in, it would be unimaginable if KMFDM didn’t come out swinging. Full of enraged battle cries and the channeled confusion of those lost in western society’s culture war, Hell Yeah will satisfy hardcore fans as well as anyone that needs a healthy dose of shared anger – I’m sure there are many of us. Even with a few head scratching moments Hell Yeah is more than worthy of being part of the iconic Industrial godfather’s extensive discography.