Wednesday 26 March 2014

Review: Combichrist – 'We Love You'

'We Love You'

For last year's guitar-orientated album 'No Redemption' for the DMC: Devil May Cry soundtrack, the gloves came off and Combichrist exposed a far more metal / hardcore influenced side to their sound that they'd been threatening since their tours with German metallers Rammstein. The aftermath left many long-term fans scratching their heads and wondering whether the band on their next full-length album proper would continue down the same route or bring the electronics back to the fore. Well, Combichrist being Combichrist have given us both.

It's no surprise really as their live act has featured the guitar work of Abbey Nex for the past few years, so in that respect the six-string aspect is already integrated into their sound. What 'No Redemption' ultimately did was place it higher in the mix. The album kicks off with the demented mix of stuttering synths, heavy guitars and raw death vocals of 'We Were Made To Love You' for a simply huge way to open the album. 'Everyday Is War' returns to more familiar Combichrist fare with it's 'Get Your Body Beat' style hard dance pace and searing melodies that seamlessly integrate that guitars once again. 'Can't Control' perhaps gives the album it's biggest slice of the older Combichrist sound with it's near instrumental construction focussing on sheer dance ferocity.

'Maggots At The Party' opens with a huge, dirty hardcore punk riff reminiscent of last year's 'No Redemption' and proceeds to headbang its way through what has to be one of the most unashamedly fun songs Andy LaPlegua has ever written. 'Denial' slows things down for a more stripped-back sing-a-longtrack that makes good use of the quiet-loud formula to prepare listeners for the shock of 'The Evil In Me'. Acoustic guitars, piano, quiet, clean vocals and a more Nick Cave vibe that erupts into a huge finale marks the biggest departure for the band yet.

'Fuck Unicorns' revives the irreverent Combichrist instrumental to reassure long-time fans, before the frantic hardcore riff of 'Love Is A Razorblade' charges through the speakers to bludgeon your ears. The lead single 'From My Cold Dead Hands' is another recognisable hard and heavy Combichrist crowd-pleaser with its strong dance pace, vocoded VS shouting vocals and stuttering synths that will no doubt be a must have for the live shows. The album is then rounded off by 'Retreat Hell Part 1' and '… Part 2'. With part one taking the slow, bassy and heavy metal path while that acoustic guitar comes out again for a spooky down beat ballad that fades into a classic answer-phone message.

LaPlegua and co. have honestly outdone themselves here. 'We Love You' is bold and new, while classic and recognisable. The band can still make you dance with a click of their fingers, but the ferocious guitar elements blend perfectly with their heavy style of writing. It's not as big of a shock to the system as 'No Redemption', but Combichrist are evolving their sound and experimenting with new ideas. Some elements of their fanbase may have trouble growing with the band, but this blend of nasty industrial and even nastier hardcore influenced metal will definitely attract new fans as well.

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