KMFDM – Wolverhampton, Slade Rooms - 8 September 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Rich Hobson   
Saturday, 30 September 2017 04:20

Metal is, at its core, the sound of industry. From the direct (a factory accident is responsible for that tuning in Black Sabbath after all) to the less so (how many metal bands exist as a reactionary movement against having to take a job working in a smog-filled city centre?), industry has informed a huge part of the aesthetic of the metal genre. Why then, is industrial metal so overlooked as a key influence on the modern metal zeitgeist? Emerging in the ‘80s and spearheaded by the likes of Ministry and KMFDM, industrial metal existed to bridge the worlds of howling noise possible in dance and the unadulterated fury of metal. Decidedly more realist than the goblins, dragons and demons that so proliferated metal in its early days, bands like KMFDM took a cynical look at the world and offered danceable beats, moshable riffs and politicised lyrics that gave metal a whole new edge in the world post hardcore punk.




Which make it all the more frustrating that the band are consigned to the part of underground lexicon reserved for criminally underrated, oft-cited influence bands. Playing in Wolverhampton on the heels of new release ‘Hell Yeah’, KMFDM land with a strong supporting line-up culled from international up-and-comers in the industrial metal scene.


Ventenner 1


First up for the evening (for us at least) are Londoners Ventenner, already doggedly plugging away as the clock strikes seven. Industrial without the frills, Ventenner don’t rely on any of the tricks you might find in the 2017 handbook to industrial metal; they don’t dabble in dubstep. They don’t rely on hackneyed topical political statements or samples. They don’t fuck about. Simple and pure, Ventenner put on a solid performance, their primitive industrial sound sitting somewhere between Prong and early NIN (albeit less riffy than the former, less radio friendly than the latter). Frontman Charlie Dawe channels Trent Reznor with an earnest, intense performance that sees him lurch around the Slade Rooms’ stage like a man in the throes of an exorcism, the soaring roars of each song enough to easily fill a room three times this size.


Lord Of The Lost 2


If Ventenner were the no-frills band, German industrial metal troupe Lord Of The Lost are the circus. Leading a crowd like ringmasters to biggest gothic spectacle this side of Marilyn Manson (with a budget decidedly cheaper no less), Lord Of The Lost are like a bat out of hell when they hit the stage, wasting no time in turning the atmosphere from ‘interested’ to ‘frenzied’ in just a couple of songs. Sonically, the band inhabit a space between Devo, The 69 Eyes and NIN, utilising every trick in the book to win the crowd over. And goddamn does it work. Enjoying a reception which would likely inspire envy in lesser bands, Lord Of The Lost have all the makings of a headliner, their teutonic techno metal nothing less than a brilliant Friday night spectacle.


Inertia 2


With the night wearing on and the atmosphere now supercharged, it feels like the headliners have a lot to live up to. But first, Inertia. Formed in ‘92 in London, the band exist in a strange limbo space between genres, possessing a look which is reminiscent of nu metal and a sound which feels distinctly new wave influenced, making them quite possibly the world’s only nu wave band. While frontman Reza Udhin is captivating, gyrating and twisting his way around the stage, the band’s music feels somewhat flaccid in the confines of the Slade Rooms, the atmosphere steadily seeping out of the room as the band’s synth-heavy beats fail to make an impact. Throw in a fairly perfunctory Peter Gabriel cover and you’ve got a decidedly forgettable set which doesn’t utilise the sheer energy and excitement generated by Lord Of The Lost. Can’t please everyone.


And then, the grandmasters themselves. KMFDM are one of industrial’s most influential and revered acts, so the opportunity to catch them in an intimate setting is certainly not one to be sniffed at. Stood behind podium like stands which lend the band an almost church-like aesthetic, KMFDM let the music talk for much of their set. Techno is the flavour of the day and KMFDM offer an explosion, rough chugging riffs smashing head on against space-age techno synth, quickly perking the room up again.




Drawing on material from across their entire career, the band conjure up a veritable feast of styles with the straight up industrial metal of classic tracks like ‘A Drug Against War’ standing at odds with newer tracks like the decidedly house/trance-like ‘Freak Flag’. Helping along this stylistic smorgasbord is the frequent switch up between vocalists Sascha Konietzko and Lucia Cifarelli offering a distinctive play-off as Sascha plays the disaffected punk to Lucia’s hugely engaging gothic ringmaster.


Playing till well past curfew, the band blast out anthems in the form of ‘A Drug Against War’, ‘Virus’ and ‘Godlike’, alongside newer material to prove that there’s still plenty of life in the old dog yet. Now in their third decade as a band, KMFDM only get better with age, their sound constantly evolving to create new soundscapes sure to get the room heaving. While bigger rooms and stages feel more befitting of their status as the godfathers (and mother) of an entire subgenre, the fact remains that seeing the band in an enclosed space, with bodies heaving, dancing and headbanging to the rhythms all around you, you can’t help but enjoy the sheer power of the atmosphere the band creates and marvel at the sheer potential KMFDM still possess 30+ years into their career.


‘Hell Yeah’ is out now via EarMUSIC.


PHOTO CREDIT: Lord Of The Lost/Inertia/KMFDM by Rich Hobson. Ventenner by Lynn Fickensher.


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