Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Review: Combichrist – 'This Is Where Death Begins'

'This Is Where Death Begins'

Love 'em or hate 'em it is undeniable that Combichrist – the one-time solo project of Icon Of Coil vocalist And LaPlegua – has become a true force of nature. The bands evolution from harsh ebm through to raucous industrial metal has seen equal praise and ire from everyone with an opinion to give. But the truth is Combichrist is here to stay.

The band's eighth album, 'This Is Where Death Begins' sees a new line-up and builds upon the commercial appeal of the band's last outing 'We Love You' to further refine the industrial metal influences that have continued to build in the band over recent years. The end result is a far more metal-based sound that doesn't omit the electronic elements entirely but is a substantial leap from their older dance-flavours. Though they might be more comparable to Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein and Rob Zombie rather than the likes of Suicide Commando these days, open-minded long time fans will still find plenty to enjoy.

Tracks like 'Glitchteeth', 'Exit Eternity', 'Don't Care How You Feel About It', 'Blackened Heart', and 'Homeward' marry the catchiness of Combichrist's electronic prowess while remaining firmly driven by heavy and hard guitar leads. While songs like 'We Are The Plague', 'Skullcrusher', 'Destroy Everything', 'Slakt', and 'Black Tar Dove Part 2' go all out with the metal elements at the forefront of the tracks.

It's a varied track list that effortlessly shifts the emphasis from the guitars, to the drums, to the synths and back again as the album progresses. Their might not be that dance-floor hit anywhere to be found. But as seen by their live performances recently, like Ministry before them, Combichrist has evolved beyond that and it isn't a bad thing.

But if you do still crave that old-school Combichrist sound the band have included a bonus CD – 'History Of Madness' – recorded live at Complex, LA which sees the band tear through sixteen classic cuts such as 'Brain Bypass', 'Adult Content', 'The Kill', 'Industrial Strength', and 'Bullet Fuck' in all their crunchy, nasty and pulsing glory. While the three disc/DVD version includes a more recent live set from last year's performance at Summer Breeze festival. Two very different performances of two very different sides to the band, but both great.

In terms of production the main album is probably the best the band have sounded since the introduction of the guitars with a product that feels like it could compete with the top bands in industrial metal. The live discs are a bit rougher due to the nature of trying to perform, capture and mix a band live. But they're full of energy and passionate and that makes up for the lack of polish.

Fans of Combichrist's earlier sounds may find the more metal direction hard to take, but those who have stuck with their evolution thus far will not be too shocked by this move and will undoubtedly embrace the blend of hard metal and gritty electronics. Either way, Combichrist have crafted a monster here and it will undoubtedly prove to be a notable release in an already enviable discography.  

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