Rating: 3/5“German engineering/ Astounding ingenuity/ Twenty nine years of conceptual continuity,” reflects KMFDM’s Sascha Konietzko on lead-single, and title-track, “Kunst.” For the industrial rock mastermind, KMFDM has never been solely about creating the most distorted guitar riffs, pounding metallic baselines and guttural screams; Konietzko created the outfit as a form of social protest and after 29 years and 17 studio albums, his call-to-arms lyricism still instigates deep thought among the faithful legions. The album’s artwork is an affirmation of this mindset, the chain-saw wielding Amazonian is both a symbol of beauty and the power of the female form – a la Rosie the Riveter of American pop culture.
Partially penned by lyricist Lucia Cifarelli, who is also the wife of Konietzko, “Pussy Riot” is a reactionary piece regarding the March 2012 trial and ongoing litigation of Russian female punks Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich (of Pussy Riot) for hooliganism. Amplifying Pussy Riot’s punk vigor with Prodigy levels of electro mayhem, the track is an anthem for female empowerment: “Hear us roar/ An army of tits/ Down for the cause/ Mother daughter sister unite/ Rise out of silent/ Stand up and fight.” Cifarelli maintains that angst through the metal riffs of “Animal Out” recalling ‘80s rockers like Lita Ford and Joan Jett…. the Wilson sisters definitely couldn’t have hung with this collective.
For that school-girl that we all repress deep down – you know, the one that jumps for joy when we realize that our favorite band is going on tour – KMFDM give us “I (Heart) Not” complete with Asia Konietzko’s high-pitched vocal snippets and a Depeche Mode-esque synth run which lands quite odd given the cry to kill Depeche Mode in “Kunst.” However, this isn’t a track that one de-petals dandelions to as much as killing an unrequited love and hiding his/her remains from the cops.
After nearly three-decades perfecting their “Ultra Heavy Beat”, Konietzko and company have grown intolerable of the music industry machine. Across Kunst, especially on “The Next Big Thing” and “The Mess You Made,” KMFDM obsess on the downfall of following trends and transforming for artistic norms. For all of those that have fallen too far into the pop culture abyss, the collective offer “Pseudocide” as one solution, which is the act of faking one’s own death. Removing the excess, the message of the track is one of earnest transformation and in line with the ideals of the Cifarelli co-written tracks.
Rightfully proud of their continued conceptual continuity, one wonders what KMFDM would be capable of if Konietzko would relinquish some control of the project. Producer, mixed and co-recorded by Konietzko, Kunst doesn’t even attempt to break new artistic ground. Without the inclusion of “Pussy Riot” the album could as easily of been recorded in 1995. Artists like Rob Zombie and Trent Reznor have gone on to expand their careers from early experimentations within industrial, but KMFDM and former touring partner Skinny Puppy are keeping the genre alive for the scene’s elderstatemen and women to enjoy after they drop their children off to witness the new sounds of dark electronic music.