Back in the day (I want to say late 90s, but it may have been early 2000s though), later at night there was a music show called Loud that aired on Much Music. It primarily focused on metal, hard rock, and punk which none of them at the time was really my cup of tea, though I’m not sure what my cup of tea was before then. One night they aired a song called A Drug against War by the industrial group KMFDM which are considered to be among the founders of industrial music. The music video alone was enough to catch my attention and the head banging ultra heavy beatmade me drum on my pillow like a madman as I sat up in bed captivated by the sights and sounds. Prior to this I can’t recall ever hearing industrial, let alone something so energetic and heavy. Little did I know watching TV that night opened my eyes to a world of music that would change my musical tastes for the rest of my life.
Last night while I was out walking my dog, I’m fairly certain about 30-40% or so of the songs my iPod randomly picked were KMFDM songs, so it’s fair to say I’d still consider them to be my favourite band of all time. Thus, as only my second album recommendation I could think of no other band to choose from. The problem is picking only one album. They’ve been around since the mid 80s so there’s a lot of material to go through but fortunately I can narrow it down to a few mid 90s albums. That’s not to say their earlier or newer material is not good, it’s just a step down from their best era I think. But even then, I’m stuck with five great albums to choose from. So I approached it in a methodical sense and chose my all-time three favourite tracks, Megalomaniac, Juke Joint Jezebel, and Light. This cut out only two albums though, since all three of these are from different albums. So of those three, I looked at all the other tracks, as well as reflected on which songs in the past I had been most obsessed with in my younger years. Winning by only a hair above the rest, I’ve decided to pick Nihil as my favourite album of KMFDM.
If you follow KMFDM’s timeline, you can see how their sound progressed from primarily electronic, to a mix of metal and electronics, to almost all metal at times. Nihil is roughly from when they were at a perfect mix of the metal and electronic, at least in my opinion. Tracks like Flesh and Search and Destroy highlight the speedy metal on this album, while songs like Juke Joint Jezebel, Beast, and Revolution through more electronic and synth sounds into the mix. As it’s no secret, KMFDM tend to be a politically outspoken group so you’ll get a bit of their opinions on tracks like Terror and Disobedience.
For me there is a great mix of electronic and metal as I mentioned earlier, but this album (much like the other KMFDM albums from the 90s and earlier) has a unique sound to it thanks to some experimental mixing. Even the heavy guitar and steel guitar can almost sound like scratchy sound produced on a synthesizer. In terms of vocals, I’ve always been a fan of the male vocals KMFDM has had over the years and this album has four all together (though I do miss Tim Skold’s raspy voice on this one). But for me the highlight in the vocal department falls to the two ladies singing on Juke Joint Jezebel (Jennifer Ginsberg) and Beast (DoronaAlberti). Their voices singing the catchy choruses really make these two tracks shine for me. As a complete package, Nihil highlights my favourite age of KMFDM.
It’s been almost twenty years since that first night I heard A Drug against War on the TV and I dove into the world of KMFDM. And from it, I further explored other industrial acts and expanded my musical tastes, but without a doubt I can say they’re still my all-time favourite group. My best friends and I even had the opportunity to see them live twice when they rolled through Canada. I even got to see solo shows from EnEsch and PIG a couple of years back which were great, but what made them unforgettable was when they played some 90s KMFDM songs. So if you’re even curious about industrial music, I highly recommend starting with Nihil. Go through their older tunes to get a sense of the more electronic side of KMFM, and move onto the later years to get a sense of some heavy industrial metal. Either way you’ll most likely find album to love with KMFDM.