Paradise | Artist: KMFDM | Genre: Industrial | Year: 2019
If you’re looking for an upbeat and optimistic commentary on today’s social injustice and dodgy politics, then KMFDM’s latest release, Paradise, is definitively not for you. The somewhat cheekier cuts on their previous album, Hell Yeah!, are obliterated here as the band reaffirms its societal rage with the same combination of coarse lyrics, aggressive beats, and industrial-strength irony that characterised (and arguably sunk) their 2003 effort, WWIII.
Paradise’s menacing sound is similar to that Bush-hating extravaganza, and it’s also fitting that the “lord of lard” himself; KMFDM alumni Raymond Watts, makes his return here on the graphic “Binge Boil & Blow”; 16 years after he last lent the band his talents on — you guessed it! — WWIII.
Fortunately, Paradise sounds nowhere near as dismal, despite the current US presidency providing the usual embarrassing one-liners for the band to sample on another reckless opener, this time called “K.M.F.”. This explicit track contains the band’s familiar cliches and self-referential humour, but added bite comes from guest rapper Andrew “Ocelot” Lindsley, who delivers a delectably venomous performance here that’s somewhat reminiscent of the reggae stylings KMFDM was dabbling with thirty years ago on UAIOE.
That same freshness doesn’t really extend to the rest of the album (Ocelot’s contribution is brief), and I think this will be the biggest sticking point with Paradise. One of the charms of KMFDM’s music is their ad nauseam repetition of self-styled propaganda and catchphrases, but the results of that approach arguably don’t land as well here. Take the track “Megalo” as a good example; it’s an ample remix of the classic cut “Megalomaniac”, but it’s not blessed with the same impact that the original track had in 1997, however relevant the central themes (and awesome lyrics) continue to be.
Whereas much of Hell Yeah! poked fun at recent political trends and brain-dead slogans (“Fake News” anyone?), Paradise begins as something significantly more scathing and confrontational. The several [explicit] tags in the Amazon download tell the story, and you need only listen to the title track itself to see how coarse everything can sound at times:
This planet is / A paradise / A paradise / For assholes (!)
Again, the vulgarity doesn’t plumb the same unpleasant depths that WWIII did, but Paradise may still be among the band’s least accessible modern albums because of it.
Other tracks like “No Regret” and “Disturb the Peace” continue the police state motif with suitable brutality — the former track there even references frontman Sascha Konietzko’s side project, Excessive Force — although space is made for some campier numbers like “Automaton” and the especially fun “WDYWB” that sees another long-time contributor (Cheryl Wilson) return in top form. If only the album didn’t finish on such a limp note. Indeed, I can’t find much love for the concluding “No God”; a track with little momentum and lyrics that go nowhere interesting.
Overall Paradise is a solid album for KMFDM to end the era on. It brings enough heavy beats and self-referential generosity for established fans to enjoy, even if it lacks the wow factor that Hell Yeah! recently achieved before it.
P.S. Is it just me or was anyone else predicting this album would be called “Trump“? …