Sound — 7
KMFDM is an electronic, industrial rock band from Germany that has been at it since 1984. On "Kunst" (German for *art*), they more or less maintain the status quo that was established on their previous albums, to create an above average KMFDM experience. To sum it up, various electronic studio effects mesh with "ultra-heavy" guitar riffs to create an interesting political commentary ("Pussy Riot") that is the reason why KMFDM has stayed relevant and somewhat popular for almost thirty years. Many of the band members have superior, dramatized lead vocal appearances throughout the album. Of course, the sound is electronic, with the vocals (auto-tuned?/effect-laden) taking center stage surrounded by a variety of studio effects as well as an occasional accompanying guitar riff. Even with the almost deluge of effects, it doesn't appear as if the production effort on this album is anything above average for an electronic rock album. And of course, let me make it crystal clear from the outset that I do not encourage the use of electronic recording techniques/styles, especially in the volume that KMFDM uses them. Make no mistake, while the album focuses primarily, in my mind, on studio effects throughout, this album definitely rocks. The vocalists usually sing in a hard rock or alternative style that really shines when fewer effects are dubbed onto them. Each vocalist also takes a distinct character to act out on each song. Since the vocalists appear to be changing on each song, this works to great effect, more so than a single vocalist who changes character for each song does. There also is a collection of guitar riffs that are sprinkled throughout the album. However, when present, the ever-repeating riffs never go over the top to dominate the song in the way I wish, though they may become one of the many focuses of the song. The album uses obvious electronic drums throughout. It's also worth noting that among the studio instruments/effects, this one is still the most viably re-creatable in a live setting. Although their electronic rock mantra differentiates them from other rock bands, I think that they have room to go even further. For example, the electric guitars could be added a little more consistently to take songs like "Hello" that seem more plainly electronic as opposed to "Animal Out" which is a more successful bridging of the two genres that distinguishes them from other electronic acts as well as hard/alternative rock outfits on the other side. Still, regardless of my criticisms here, KMFDM has been doing it for almost thirty years, so I know that they won't change their formula now if they haven't already. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, I guess.
Lyrics — 8
As to vocals, it appears like there are many different people singing on the album, though the band's website only lists two vocalists. Regardless, the vocalists usually take on characters playing a role, most notably in "I ♥ Not", which has a very interesting beginning interplay between a little girl, a screaming woman, and a rapist/stalker (I think). The music supports these interplays and characters in general to make the album much more comprehensive. One of the characters that re-appears throughout the album is the voice of a British newscaster who starts many of the songs, like "Pussy Riot", to set the stage and increase the drama. Stylistically, the vocalists sing in a 90's onward hard rock genre, which I guess they like to call "Industrial". There are of course many studio effects, as I mentioned before, that are put onto the voices for texture and drama. For me, these effects are very hit or miss. Lyrically, the album tries to commentate on serious issues while keeping the lyrics simple and non-inflammatory. Of course, the whole album isn't dedicated to this. For example, "Quake" and "Animal Out" still have interesting lyrics, they are just less about pressing issues in our society, to the best of my knowledge.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, KMFDM keeps to the status quo on "Kunst". The electronic-industrial sound made a mostly positive impression on me. Also, keeping in perspective, there is a fair amount of guitar on the album and the sight of the word "electronic" shouldn't scare the users of this site away. My favorite song was "I ♥ Not". This is interesting music that isn't over the top cool, but still interesting as a whole. To put it plainly, any serious musician has the ability to listen to this album and sometimes, even become a fan. And, if you like this album, listen to the rest of KMFDM's 15+ album catalogue.