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Review

Metropolis Records ? New & Upcoming Releases (Part 1)

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filled with glistening black sonic gems for the fishnets-and-rivets crowd

Metropolis Records ? New & Upcoming Releases (Part 1)

By Gregory S. Burkart

With last week's release of KMFDM's remix collection Brimborium still steamin' fresh from the oven, I thought I?d spend a little more time scooping you on other new and upcoming arrivals from Metropolis Records ? the label responsible for so many of the spooky beats we love to groove to in the dark, preferably awash in clouds of incense and black light. You wouldn't necessarily consider this time of year to be a peak season for Gothic, punk, EBM or industrial releases, but it's always pleasantly dark and gloomy in the warehouses of this celebrated indie label, and February and March are filled with glistening black sonic gems for the fishnets-and-rivets crowd... so many, in fact, we can't fit them all into one review.

Arguably the most important release for industrial & EBM fans this year is Too Much History, a two-disc collection representing the most significant works from legendary German band Die Krupps. Held in high esteem alongside Einsturzende Neubaten, Leather Strip, KMFDM and Throbbing Gristle as the grand old guard of Europe's proto-industrial music scene, this avant-garde beat-oriented electronic outfit has always moved freely between genres, first challenging listeners and critics alike as one of the first industrial bands to integrate hard guitar riffs into their sound long before the term ?Industrial Metal? was slapped on everything from Ministry to Marilyn Manson. Their mini-album A Tribute to Metallica so impressed drummer Lars Ulrich that he helped them secure distribution in the US, and they soon embarked on numerous creative collaborations with the likes of Trent Reznor, Mike Patton and Al Jourgensen, and bands ranging from Depeche Mode to Rammstein have cited them as a direct influence.

Since the reunion in 2005 of several core members (including Jurgen Engler and Ralf Dorper), the band has stormed back onto the charts across Europe over a quarter-century after their inception, and turned out a special edition EP containing an epic-sounding version of their single Machineries of Joy (with Nitzer Ebb's Doug McCarthy) and a cover of Visage's The Anvil with Client B (of the UK EBM band Client) on vocals. The success of that EP led to the release of the retrospective double album Too Much History, which contains some of their greatest hits as well as some brand-new tracks.

Divided into ?The Electro Years? and ?The Metal Years,? this collection takes you across a wide range of powerful, hard-grinding electronic beats, shuddering bass lines, chunky guitar riffs and screaming sawtooth leads, underscoring a vocal style that is both sternly regimental and boldly celebratory. The high points from disc 1 include the aforementioned Machineries, club fave Germaniac and the ground-shaking Der Amboss, but I have a guilty fondness for the 5/4 time Hi Tech Low Life, mostly because of its remarkable melodic similarity to the main theme from a certain John Carpenter movie whose title begins with ?H.? The disc concludes with previously unreleased club-friendly kicker 5 Millionen.

As promised, disc 2 serves up the metal with searing guitars right out of the gate, and all but demands to be cranked to 11. Compare the track The Dawning of Doom with Rammstein's Tier and you'll experience more than touch of deja vu ? the latter song is a direct lift, which the members of Rammstein readily admit. Other high marks on this disc include... well, all of them. Seriously, these cuts will rock your face off. Fatherland is probably the most popular, but it's not the strongest. I'm partial to the insistent Crossfire, the epic Odyssey of the Mind, anthemic To The Hilt and the unbelievably creepy Bloodsuckers, which quickly asserted itself as one of my favorite electro-metal fist-pumpers of all time. It wraps with new track The Great Divide, in which Die Krupps appears to be paying back Rammstein's tribute. If you're even remotely into harsh electro, industrial, aggro-tech, or whatever the hell label they're hanging on it this week, you owe it to yourself to pick up this set... pronto.

In further release news? although not really dark and spooky enough for these pages, it?s worth noting some goodies coming soon from Metropolis for those of you whose tastes lean more toward crowd-pleasing punk and sugary dance-pop. From the former camp, The A.K.A.s (Are Everywhere!) are rolling out a new release next month, and FEARnet got a peek.

The A.K.A.s? brand of self-described ?dancehall fight music? isn?t quite as aggressive as their hype would have you believe, as this their new album Everybody Make Some Noise! is pretty much straightforward pop-punk ? ?whoa-oooh-oh? shout-outs and all ? a genre which usually fails to light my fire.

But they do possess real technical savvy and a vocal punch that reminds me a lot of The Clash, with rhythms that are both forceful and memorable? plus the inclusion of slick retro rock-organ chops lends a welcome texture to their sound. Their lyrics are intelligent and often represent a call to social awareness, which sets them apart from many of their peers and helped distinguish the outfit during their tour with politically-charged punk icons Anti-Flag. I expect them to get an even bigger push with the release of Everybody Make Some Noise! but time will tell if they catch fire with a wider crowd. So far they?re off to a pretty good start.

As I mentioned before, there's plenty more sonic strangeness where this came from. Check back soon for the latest from electo-metal's scary pranksters Hanzel Und Gretyl, Die Form's sexy take on the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, and some other genre-bending surprises that will have even the gloomiest of Goths looking forward to Spring's first bloom... well, maybe not, but it's cool stuff anyway.

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