Artist: Die Krupps
Title: The Machinists Of Joy
Genre: EBM/ Electro
Release Date: 25th October 2013
Label: Synthetic Symphony / SPV
In 1989 DIE KRUPPS released the single 'The Machineries Of Joy', featuring reworks of their classic song 'Wahre Arbeit Wahrer Lohn' together with NITZER EBB, at that time an upcoming young band and disciples of DIE KRUPPS, who NITZER EBB often cited as an important influence. This autumn DIE KRUPPS release their new album 'The Machinists Of Joy', and the title is surely not the only nod to the past. Besides the self-referential album title there's the cover which directly attracts your attention. With its simplicity and pre-Photoshop layout it could easily be some artwork from the 1980s or even earlier. In fact the cover is an exact copy of the front sleeve of Lou Reed's 1975 album 'Metal Machine Music' – this album title should also ring a bell for all DIE KRUPPS fans!
On 'The Machinists Of Joy' DIE KRUPPS are looking back in many ways but it is no look back in anger, as the title of first song ‘Blick zurück im Zorn’ might suggest. DIE KRUPPS are rather revisiting old virtues and the core competences they gave up for the most part when they delved too deep into the Metal genre in the late 1990s. The Metal days are definitely over, even though there are still a lot of guitars on many tracks of the new album. But guitarist Marcel Zuercher takes rather a back seat and allows his riffs and licks to support the compositions and rhythms where necessary instead of steamrolling entire songs. In many ways 'The Machinists Of Joy' is perfectly in line with the path DIE KRUPPS took since their comeback in 2005. This path goes back to the roots, and this is not only true for the music but also for the lyrics and the imagery DIE KRUPPS use.
The lyrics on the album, half in English and half in German, are full of catchwords like steel, iron, factory, machine, sweat, muscles, dirt, work, and so on. In this age of computers and complete and constant digital interconnectedness it is hardly forward-looking and progressive to sing hymns about physical labour and the industrial working world of the (early) 20th century. On the other hand this is simply part of the identity of DIE KRUPPS. After all, Jürgen Engler and his fellow musicians named their band after a German dynasty of steel producers who played a key role in shaping the face of the region from which the band DIE KRUPPS emerged. Consequently a song like 'Im Schatten der Ringe' (“in the shadow of the rings”, referring to the Krupp logo) addresses the dubious role of the Krupp family as manufacturers of ammunition and weaponry during both world wars and as supporters of the Nazi regime.
The English-languaged song 'Essenbeck' takes the same road, seemingly it refers to the family of the same name in Luchino Visconti's movie ‘The Damned’, and in fact the Essenbeck dynasty in the movie pretty much mirrors the Krupp dynasty in real life. DIE KRUPPS have never been afraid to take a very clear political position, and songs as 'Im Falschen Land' (“in the wrong country”) or 'Nazis auf Speed' (only available on the bonus disc) give more evidence of this. The flippant 'Robo Sapien', which musically is some kind of DAF meets 1970s Disco with a deliberately turgid chorus, talks about the human race turning into man machines. It's probably not a too long shot to think of early Sci-Fi flicks when listening to this song. And then there is 'Eiskalter Engel' (“ice-cold angel”) which is some kind of Industrial torch song. The slightly cheesy song title is outweighed when you realize that the song is not about some girl but rather about the relationship between a factory worker and his machine during a night shift. A nice twist! Musically it is surely one of the strongest and most striking tracks on 'The Machinists Of Joy'!
Those who care more about music and sound than lyrics will get a synth- and sequencer-driven album with all DIE KRUPPS qualities and trademarks. To put it straightforward, if you enjoyed the KRUPPS albums from the late 1980s to the early 1990s and the rare new DIE KRUPPS songs from this century, e.g. 'Der Amboss' and the 'Als wären wir für immer' EP, you are bound to love this album! It is fair enough to say that in many ways 'The Machinists Of Joy' could easily be something that was released around 1990, and I have to admit that this overall impression made me look a bit sceptical at this album during the first few listens. In the end the undeniable qualities of DIE KRUPPS win over! Starting with three killer songs including the single 'Risikofaktor' and the irresistible dance track 'Schmutzfabrik', DIE KRUPPS manage to maintain this high-grade level throughout the album. And let's be honest, such consistent quality is rather a rare thing in today's EBM and Industrial scene.
'The Machinists Of Joy' is also released as a limited digipack edition including a bonus disc with six tracks. Interestingly the single 'Industrie-Mädchen', a stomping dance cover of a German Punk classic from 1980, is only available on this bonus disc. Other mentionable tracks on the bonus CD are the jackhammering 'Neue Helden', the guitar-heavy 'Panik' featuring METAL URBAIN from France and 'Sans Fin'. The latter is a collaboration with Geoffroy D from the Martial Industrial project DERNIERE VOLONTE, another French act. There are internet sites out there which accuse DERNIERE VOLONTE of having right-wing tendencies but one could argue that a downright anti-fascist band like DIE KRUPPS would not collaborate with them if the imputation were true. However, musically 'Sans Fin' is a haunting and atmospheric piece whose French vocals alone make it stand out from the rest. DIE KRUPPS promised that the bonus tracks will be special and unique and not just leftovers from the studio sessions. Undeniably they kept their promise!
01. Ein Blick Zurück Im Zorn
04. Robo Sapien
05. The Machinist Of Joy
07. Im Falschen Land
08. Part Of The Machine
09. Eiskalter Engel
11. Im Schatten Der Ringe
Bonus CD ltd. Edition
01. Nazis Auf Speed
03. Sans Fin (feat. Derniere Volonte)
04. Neue Helden
Jürgen Engler - vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass, steel percussion, programming
Ralf Doerper - samples
Marcel Zuercher - guitars
Chris Lietz - engineering
http://www.die-krupps.de / http://www.facebook.com/pages/Die-Krupps/41981151052
Total: 9 / 10