With this introduction, let us move on to this beautifully packaged collection of national anthems in different states of reinterpretation. Just as it did when covering The Beatles or Queen, Laibach mostly lets the lyrics speak for themselves. And just as it did then, the signature growl of vocalist Milan Fras makes you pay attention to what is really being said more or less under the surface. What the f*** is it that we're actually singing on pompous occasions? The Chinese national anthem, to name just one, makes it quite clear that the most important role of the people is to act as cannon fodder.
"Volk" has a very full and rich Laibach sound. A lot subtler and more melodious than "WAT" - and much less danceable - "Volk" is aimed more at the brain than at the heart. The most cerebral treatments are the anthems of the US and Great Britain, incorporating Laibach's own foreign policy criticisms. Closer to home, the Russian hymn receives a much more sanguine melancholic grace while the pan-Slavic one radiates genuine pride and dignity.
The album booklet carries quotes describing how the English language is colonizing the world, and Laibach is indeed in the awkward position of having to use English translations in the songs to reach an audience of any size with their message. This is made up for quite nicely by various guests contributing additional vocals in their mother tongues. Personally, I absolutely adore Fras' excursions in Italian, previously on "Mama Leone" and now here.
Yes, a linguistically diverse Laibach is definitely preferable to the alternative. So is an unpredictable one, but in this department Laibach does not quite deliver. Laibach is an iconic band, but perpetrating your image for too long leads to stagnation. After a certain point there comes a time when you need to smash the icons to reach true greatness. Hmm, how about gender and sexuality for next time?