Today We Are All Demons
2 out of 5 Stars
Combichrist has become the industrial genre’s equivalent of AC/DC in recent years. The band’s purpose is to fuel parties with an endless supply of raucous barn-burners. The outfit’s music is ubiquitous in the goth scene — any club will play at least one of its songs on any given night and, like AC/DC, Combichrist has a transparently simple songwriting formula that it milks for all it’s worth on albums like Today We Are All Demons.
“Get Your Body Beat” was the breakout single that defined the band’s method in 2006, and it has yet to be trumped by anything else in Combichrist’s catalog. Driven by a churning bass line, crisp hi-hats, seasick synth stabs and some inspired throat work by frontman Andy LePlegua, it took the world of dark dance by storm. But Combichrist’s latest album, monotonous and uninspired, cements the notion that “Get Your Body Beat” was merely an impressive fluke.
Today We Are All Demons is powered by the group’s self-dubbed pseudo-genre of Techno Body Music — named after the industrial sub-genre of Electronic Body Music which emerged in the late ’80s. The only difference between EBM and TBM seems to be that the latter is more repetitive. Cyborg rhythms, thumping bass and dystopian sci-fi trappings are the order of the day here. Combichrist’s hallmark, however, is an unabashed penchant for trashiness.
LePlegua’s crew is desperately trying to offend listeners, but the rationale is entirely unclear. The poetic line “My parents give good head / My grandmother gives good head / My relatives give good head, too!” has nothing to do with the rest of the song “Kickstart the Fight,” although its lyrics are apropos of nothing in the first place; LePlegua is just “here to fuck shit up,” in his own words. The duet of the gruff male and screechy female, reminiscent of Atari Teenage Riot, is one of the few memorable tracks.
The stomping “I Want Your Blood” is equally confounding, its chorus demanding “I want your blood / I want your soul / I want them both right now.” “Can’t Change the Beat” is a more successful groover, riding on the strength of its arpeggiated bass line and sour keyboard sirens. But subsequent tracks like “Spit (Happy Pig Whore)” still load on the stale beats and silly samples (“I hate whore moms who dress all slutty and embarrass their children”).
Though the samples and lyrics are meant to be irreverent, the auto-pilot compositions dampen the sense of giddy camp euphoria for which Combichrist gropes. And yet, the band is at its thematic worst when assuming a serious tone, as on “The Kill V.2.” Spouting nonsense like “there is no stopping of what can’t be stopped / there is no killing of what can’t be killed,” the band loses its focus and douses the chorus in a tepid orchestral wash.
Today We Are All Demons is nothing if not lazy. Moments of bristling funk and techno-glory are few and far between in this album of gaudy cyberpunk junk music.