Under the radar industrial outfit make a dash for the limelight with a storming 30th anniversary live set
KMFDM (Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid – No Pity For The Majority) have always existed on the periphery of the industrial scene. Formed as a performance art project in 1984 by Sascha Konietzko, they have remained somewhat in the shadows when compared to mainstream success stories, the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson and Rammstein, who all bear surprisingly close comparison.
Neither are KMFDM mentioned in the same breath as pre-industrial pioneers such as Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire or SPK. And despite releasing 18 studio albums and selling some two million records, they seem to reside far from the hearts and minds of fans of their more lugubrious counterparts Skinny Puppy, Front 242 and Front Line Assembly. This is perhaps because KMFDM balance rather awkwardly between accessible rock and industrial metal, and have eschewed the opportunity to embrace modern technology in quite the same way.
Konietzko relocated from his home city of Hamburg to Chicago in 1991, leading KMFDM to ride on the coattails of the short-lived success of the mid-90s industrial movement. In the wake of the Columbine massacre, they were one of the groups slated by a frothing media looking for answers from America’s alternative youth scene. They have never been a political outfit, though. Indeed, Konietzko made the cogent statement that their 2003 album, ‘WWIII’, which featured a lyrical critique of President George W Bush, is “not an anti-Bush record per se, it’s an anti-stupidity record”.
The band lost their way at the turn of the century, briefly rebranding themselves as MDFMK. Not sure why, but it was a bad idea. Yet however KMFDM are perceived, their long and consistent career has brought with it a committed and loyal hardcore fan base. And as you would expect for a band that has been around for 30 years, ‘We Are’ pays testament to that experience with a solidly proficient live show.
Heavy guitar riffs and powerful live drums adorn this collection of 20 live tracks, littered with sequenced synth parts and Konietzko’s attacking vocals. ‘Kunst’ sets the standard, igniting the stage with blistering riffs and furious drumming. You might think it would be hard for an album to live up to such a brutal yet addictive opener, but tracks such as ‘Ave Maria’, ‘Light’ and ‘Pussy Riot’ are equally enjoyable. The songwriting on ‘D.I.Y.’ and ‘Potz Blitz’ meanwhile belies the group’s standing – both tracks holding their own against the best that industrial rock has had to offer since its conception.
Thirty years is a long time to wait for endorsement and I doubt that was the idea behind ‘We Are’, but on this evidence KMFDM deserve reappraisal.