KMFDM celebrate their fortieth anniversary by doing the same thing they’ve been doing for four decades: releasing a new album. Before diving into their 23rd record Let Go, however, let’s go ahead and get one thing out of the way. This is not an industrial album. Nor is their sole founding member Sascha Konietzko claiming this to be, as he refers to their sound as being “the Ultra Heavy Beat.” Heavy is a subjective term here, as teenagers discovering industrial music today might only have 3TEETH and Code Orange as reference points to the genre; upon hearing “Let Go,” they might think of it as some kind of kinky dance music. Which is a fair enough assumption considering the grooves to the title track have more in common with My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult’s more anthemic moments than Fear Factory.
When the guitar does come to the forefront on “Push!” it is not in the same zip code of metallic aggression they once cranked out on songs like “Light.” That was 1993, however, and this is now. Their sound has shifted over their three prior albums to make this the next logical step forward in the progression. One of the album’s strongest moments lies in the robotic tone of the dystopian “Next Move.” Still not among industrial’s most aggressive sounds, but it feels like the next best compromise. Fans who have kept abreast with KMFDM’s more recent work will likely embrace it with greater ease than someone who has not pressed play on an album since Nihil.
Let Go finds KMFDM moving in an even more melodic direction that borders on pop via songs like “Airhead.” This is balanced out with songs like “Turn the Light On” which sounds like The Revolting Cocks once the cocaine wore off. The direction they’ve taken here is enough to still earn its place in DJs’ sets at most goth nights, as the majority of the songs fall within the loose boundaries of what might be defined as darkwave or future pop. Stylistic discrepancies can be argued over, but this album is anchored by the fact Sascha and Lucia are a great songwriting team. One of the album’s greatest strengths lies in the division of the vocal duties, which allows for a wider scope of moods and sonic colors to be explored. Where Lucia offers a disaffected purr, Sascha’s gruff growl provides a starker outlook.
They allow themselves room for ample experimentation and productive weirdness in moments like “Totem E. Eggs.” And though it’s weird by KMFDM’s standards, if Psychic TV or Alien Sex Fiend are part of your regular rotation, then this might still have a ways to go. Let Go isn’t as heavy or tense as some of KMFDM’s past work, with “WW2023” being one of its darker moments even with the dub elements. But the hook-laden songwriting makes the album stand out among an already ample catalog. Those bound by a sense of nostalgia might be inclined to dig out their Money cassettes, but Sascha and company are only moving the grooves forward here. On Let Go, KMFDM continue to challenge themselves as songwriters, showing no interest in riding on past glories.
Buy this album:
Note: When you buy something through our affiliate links, Treble receives a commission. All albums we cover are chosen by our editors and contributors.