Combichrist: The name implies a “punk rock messiah.” Their style has been called “TBM” (techno body music). In preparation for this review, I listened to the entire previous body of work of this Norwegian aggrotech band, now based in Atlanta, Georgia. Each album was good in its own way, worthy of high ratings. What makes this album special is that each and every track is a stand-alone great song, addictive and a perfect blend of 21st century punk, thrash and techno-industrial. Oh, and did I mention danceable? No surprise to those familiar with Combichrist, We Love You is characterized by beautiful minor-key melodies played on synthesizers, delivered with mesmerizing rhythms while the harshest, most mean-spirited lyrics are screamed at the listener.
We Love You is full of compulsively attention-grabbing music, with articulate, accusatory diatribes expressing disillusionment, free-floating resentment and demands for freedom from political correctness. Powerful and melodic hooks, heavy electronics, distorted, menacing samples with an apocalyptic sci-fi edge and hoarse, hardcore-style vocals characterize most tracks. Guitar and drums are mingled with synthetic instrumentals and with electronically generated choral vocals. I didn’t provide a description of each of the 13 tracks, but offer the following:
The second track, “Every Day Is War” is reminiscent of KMFDM, but harsher. “Can’t Control,” the third track, has an unrelenting rhythm, sure to produce compulsive and energetic dancing. The seventh cut, “The Evil In Me” features clear and articulate vocals, beautifully sung. It is an ode to self-loathing, accompanied mostly by a simple acoustic guitar. It turns the scrutiny and the hate around backwards to target the author himself and whomever he includes when he uses the plural “we.” It concludes with a dark symphonic statement that sounds to be the pessimistic triumph of Fate.
The eighth track, “Fuck Unicorns” is all instrumental and samples, a compelling march beat through an electronic wasteland to a minor-key melody. The ninth number, “Love Is A Razorblade” is an angry rant and holds its own against the best of ’90s Ministry to whom it owes much.
As on all their previous works, We Love You does a wonderful job of letting the listener get out their aggressions and discontentment. When assessing music in this genre, I always use Skinny Puppy’s oeuvre as the gold standard for comparison purposes. The best way to evaluate this album is to state that it rises to Skinny Puppy’s high standard without being imitative, but rather adhering to a signature style that is Combichrist’s alone.
In A Word: Malicious