Nitzer Ebb | Industrial Complex (Artists Addiction)

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The 13 tracks here—17 if you include four remixes—range from heavy to melodic, yet they all mesh well, and all enthrall.

Yes, you read that right: Nitzer Ebb has a new album out. And you know what? It’s tremendous.
Like their forebears Underworld, Nitzer Ebb have grown up a bit since the heavy industrial sound of their prior releases. Techno dance floor staples “Murderous” and “Join in the Chant” have melded with a slightly lighter sound: more typical song structures that never lose their edge.
A late ’90s reunion tour showed that the band had more in its arsenal. Industrial Complex—out January in the U.K., this month here in the States, it’s the band’s first release since 1995—captures Nitzer Ebb’s reinvigorated energy. The 13 tracks here—17 if you include four remixes—range from heavy to melodic, yet they all mesh well, and all enthrall. This is not your father’s band reuniting for a last gasp at reminiscing; this is a band with something more to say.
With its heavy electro intro, disc opener “Promises” lets you know right off the bat that this is, in fact, Nitzer Ebb you’re listening to. It would fit easily into a DJ mix, perfect for the club floor. “Once You Say” maintains the tension but introduces a more melodic Ebb. Are those vocal harmonies? Yes, indeedy. “I’ve never known, I’ve never known, I’ve never known anything,” Douglas McCarthy professes on “Never Know,” his sharp-edged vocals recalling Ministry’s Al Jourgensen.
The dark goth-electro synthesizers are more subdued on “Going Away From Me,” a ballad as defined by Nitzer Ebb. Here McCarthy’s vocals remind me of Underworld’s Karl Hyde; they’re laid bare in all their vibrato glory. There’s a bit of Nine Inch Nails synthwork on “Hit You Back.” “I have been walking in the wilderness,” sings McCarthy, “no caress, no address.” The heaviest song on the album, “Payroll,” is up next; the vocal delivery suggests Kasabian.
“Down on Your Knees” is vintage Nitzer Ebb; it could have easily fit on their mid-’80s releases. Could it really be 20-plus years gone? Following the gyrating “I Don’t Know You,” “My Door Is Open” is a slow burner; “I’m Undone” is even slower and sexier. (It’s also one of the song’s that is remixed—in this case, twice: once by Alan Wilder, once by Christopher Kah. The other two remixes are “My Door Is Open” and “Once You Say,” the latter reimagined by Tom Furse.)
Quite possibly my favorite song on the disc, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” (not the song by Specimen). It’s unrelenting and in-your-face; the lyrical restraint at the end of the song is perfect. “Traveling” keeps the energy high; it’s also very melodic, as close to a radio song as this album gets. “On the Road” is an upbeat final chapter to a rewarding read. I’m already hitting “repeat”…
What can I say? I’m blown away by how good this album is. Following Underworld’s brilliant Barking earlier this year, I would say dark techno has grown up a bit—and hasn’t lost any of its edge. Buy them both, now. A | Laura Hamlett
RIYL: Underworld, Nine Inch Nails, Kasabian
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