Review Summary: Wumpscut’s first full-length album contains incredible Electro-Industrial sounds, but the album is sadly marred (though never ruined) by uninviting and sometimes underwhelming material.
Before the world enjoyed (or suffered through, depending on who you ask) yearly Wumpscut releases of both diminishing and rebounding quality, Rudy Ratzinger was a remarkably powerful heavyweight in the Industrial scene that emerged from the gates with an effective, though flawed first full-length outing.
Before jumping out into the ocean, let’s take a small detour....
Flashback to the early 1990’s. The industrial landscape was changing with the additions of more rock- and metal- sensibilities to thematic content and direction, transforming the Industrial sound from the mechanical structures and cold, impersonal cynicism to more personal realm of human emotions. Within this swiftly growing genre came another evolutionary mutation. Rather than joining the bold new movement of musicians trying to rethink Industrial via genre bending (think NIN, Ministry, KMFDM) Wumpscut decided to expand off of a more structured, traditional style of dance-focused Industrial, mixing strikingly lyrics, horrifying gothic flair, sinister synth hooks of unfathomable infectiousness, and rapacious, pace-perfect dance beats. The end result was Music for a Slaughtering Tribe, an album who began to spread awareness about the project’s legitimacy in Industrial music.
Despite the implications of technological progression, some of MFAST’s offerings still demand to be heard, for the legitimacy of their quality is something that must witnessed. Yes, the album is both a first time outing and rapidly approaching its 20th birthday, and yes, the sound quality is not fully on par with the latest levels of production, but the quality still shines today. The buzzing menace of Fear in Motion and Concrete Rage, the haunting soundscapes of She’s Dead, the scathing lyrics and cynical synth-leads of the club-staple Soylent Green; all can hold tremendous weight when placed alongside modern EBM hits, or even the latest dubstep sensation on the Billboard Charts. For an album that was released in ’93, this album’s age provides little to deter the emotional ferocity behind the music (NOTE: MFAST has been re-released and reissued many times, all of which were subject to re-mastering efforts. The 2005 re-release by far sounds much better than the original mastering efforts.)
Granted, not all material on MFAST is up to the snuff with the finer portions. Songs like Bleed and Koslow, that begrudgingly refuse to incorporate listenable elements of aforementioned songs in favor of uncharacteristically tortured machine squeals and frenzied beats, withdraw their anchor of accessibility for curious audiences (an ill-advised move, considering the ease of access many songs hold). There are some attempts to elaborate on the album’s core strengths, but most fall victim to aimless plodding and structural weakness due to repetition or the omission of interesting hooks. The demonic growling of Believe in Me quickly losses its luster after its monotonous 6-minute run, and tracks like Dudek and Default are rendered filler when viewed in the shadow of MFAST better songs.
Thankfully, Wumpscut’s abstract and subtle intelligence remains largely intact throughout the album’s entirety, spewing out lines of carnal savagery lathered in subtle profanity while exploring the barbaric horrors of human cruelty with vehement rage and personal disgust (“when I was born/ in times of oppression/ I couldn’t bear my mother’s incest/ When I was born / in times of aggression / I had no faith besides your chest”).
Even when faced with the weakest moments of Music for a Slaughtering Tribe, it’s truly difficult to not appreciate this album, for the finer offerings definitely outshine the fledglings. Granted, while the success of the future albums like Embryodead, Bunkertor 7, or the phenomenal Wreath of Barbs would do more for Wumpscut in terms of broadening both appeal and the artist’s overall strength, MFAST, despite it's shortcommings, does deserve recognition among Wumpscut’s finer works.
(This review was based on the 2000 Metropolis re-release, which contain MFAST 2, a collection of remixes that was released as a separate album)