Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nitzer Ebb - "Industrial Complex" CD

In the roughly 15 years since the last new Ebb material, Nitzer Ebb's instrumentalist Bon Harris has spent time programming for bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson, while vocalist Douglas McCarthy has worked with Ebb-inspired dance producer Terrence Fixmer, as well as Alan Wilder's electro-blues project, Recoil. But these influential English electro-dance-punks reunite with the impressively strong "Industrial Complex", and they do a right good job reclaiming the harsh sequencer-driven sound of their earliest work (a la "That Total Age"), especially on the energetic opener, "Promises" (which made it's debut on the "NCIS" soundtrack). The sloganeering and authoritarian ranting of their old days is gone, though, replaced by more developed songwriting and production. There are also softer electro ballads like "Going Away", which reminds of (old friends, tourmates, and collaborators) Depeche Mode. No coincidence that Depeche's Martin Gore himself guests on "Once You Say", which bears a similarity to Mode's "I Feel You" a wee bit. But that's not to say this is a mope-fest by any means. Cuts like "Hit You Back" are more rock-oriented, echoing their later work on albums like "Ebbhead". And the thunderous "Payroll", originally heard on the "Saw IV" soundtrack, is a welcomed injection of aggressive electronics and McCarthy's half-rap-shouted vocals. "I Don't Know You" is a retro-edged bit of synth-driven hypnoticism that shows Ebb's DAF-meets-Die Krupps roots more than amicably. "My Door Is Open" continues this trend, and is easily among the duo's more intense offerings since 1991's "Godhead". "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is another stomper that could be wicked on a dancefloor, but probably rocks too hard for most club-goers. It all ends on a lighter note with "Traveling", which is a more song-based piece that's as close to a pop song as this lot goes. Surprisingly good, sturdy, and potent work from a group that has successfully resurrected itself from the ashes. (Alfa Matrix)

Nitzer Ebb web

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