Sound: After only about a year-and-a-half since releasing Today We Are All Demons, the electro-industrial outfit Combichrist has returned with 12 new tracks on Making Monsters. While some industrial acts fall into a state of monotony with their musical arrangements, Combichrist does a capable job of creating fairly distinct offerings. Making Monsters' many synth hooks don't match the catchiness of what you might find on a Trent Reznor production, but they are still memorable enough to stick in your head after the first or second listen.
It's not surprising that Rammstein selected Combichrist to be a supporting act for 2009 and part of 2010. There are a few songs on Making Monsters that relay that same balance of industrial crunch and masculine dominance (via vocal delivery) that you might hear from a Rammstein track. Never Surrender is one of the best examples, which features vocals by Andy LaPlegua that are more spoken than sung and often in the same dry-yet-confident way that you might hear from Till Lindemann. As far as shock value goes, Fuckmachine is easily the standout track on Making Monsters. LaPlegua takes on an even more sinister vocal style, uttering lyrics that basically are accusing one unlucky (or lucky depending on your point of view) gal of being on the very, very naughty side.
You'll get your fair share of hooks with Follow The Trail of the Blood, but Combichrist doesn't rely on just infectious synth lines to bolster the music. The band actually shines when it veers toward the dark side, and Forgotten is eerie enough that it could blend seamlessly into a horror film. Reclamation isn't quite as blatantly horrific, but it's driven by its mellow-yet-darkly-sexy vibe. As far as just being generally creative on the whole, the prize should go to Monster:Murder:Kill, which features a synthesized robotic voice that utters all of the lyrical content. // 8
Lyrics: Making Monsters certainly revolves around darker themes, but the music almost screams for ominous lyrical content. Songs like Just Like Me tend to be a bit more cynical and/or reflective on society as a whole with lines like, We're making monsters; We created you; Feed you with hope and abandon hope. At the other end of the spectrum is the aforementioned Fuckmachine, which is today's answer to NIN's Closer although Combichrist is more misogynistic. If you take offense to lyrics that could possibly be construed as degrading to women, you might have an issue or two with Making Monsters. That being said, some songs have little to no lyrical content and it's the music that often takes the spotlight. // 7
Overall Impression: Combichrist doesn't necessarily branch too far out of the traditional industrial genre, but the band does get creative within its comfort zone. LaPlegua will scream in one moment and talk in an every day, unaffected manner in the next. The arrangements are varied by tempo and musical choices, and Making Monsters does evoke a certain mood. Yes, it's a sinister mood, but it's certainly not a boring one. // 8