Granted, KMFDM haven’t exactly been on top of their game at all since they rose from the dead with “Attak” in 2002. But “Hau ruck” sees them reaching depths I could never imagine.
The polyphonic melting pot nature of most of their earlier work may have seemed schizophrenic at times, but has actually been what made KMFDM work for so long and allowed them to last through their two decades of conceptual continuity. All the guest artists and ensuing sonic and lyrical chaos brought with them an anarchic lack of boundaries, a sense that anything was possible. Without it, a lot of KMFDM’s least appealing elements have been allowed to come to the fore. Hence the fact that “Hau ruck” is brimful of pointless riffing, largely unimaginative electronics and way too much of Sascha Konietzko’s and Lucia Cifarelli’s vocals, both of which leave a lot to desire when not backed up by more charismatic singers.
All of this doesn’t mean that “Hau ruck” is entirely without merits, though. Opening track “Free Your Hate” is an angry punch in the face that manages to combine some subtle programming with excellent guitar work and a chorus that works wonders. The rest of the album also has its fair share of decent bits and pieces, but as a whole it sounds so uninspired, and uninspiring, that I can barely sit through the whole thing. It has to be said that the lyrics should be made to bear a large part of the shame. KMFDM’s anger at the state of the United States is of course entirely justified, but it’s difficult not to get disappointed by the fact that a band that’s consistently used humour and sarcasm to express their rage now have resorted to some sort of juvenile punk rhetoric.
Frustratingly uneven as they may have been before, KMFDM at least never used to leave me cold. But writing this I find myself staring at the computer screen through a veil of ice that’s slowly closing up around me.