Review Summary: KMFDM albums rarely feel rushed... that one does.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Only one year after the release of their most famous album, KMFDM released another one as if to quickly move on. Indeed Sasha Konietzko said that the success of Nihil
was one of the things that lead the band to its later demise.
He also explained that, when doing Nihil
, the members really took time to think about the structures of the songs and did their work a bit too seriously. On Xtort
, he wanted to go back to a more spontaneous and carefree approach… and without guitar solos. (In the end there are guitar solos, but it is obvious that the room left for a second guitar was atrociously diminished).
The result is certainly one of the most frustrating of KMFDM albums. The opening track says everything. Günter Schulz gratifies the song with one of his catchiest riffs ever, (if it sounds familiar listen to “Blood” on Angst
again), Sasha Konietzko’s singing is accompanied with wonderfully warm female vocals and the whole sound is KMFDM at its best. But clocking at 5m26, its simplicity renders it unbearable. The first verse lasts nearly a minute and relies on sparse singing and an oversimplistic guitar riff. The absence of ambient guitar or of a guitar solo or of any complexity of any kind whatsoever, deprives the song of a chance to grow on you. Actually, it is more like the song sounds more boring each time you give it another chance.
Most tracks display the same qualities and the same flaws. The singing is great, the sound is awesome, there are some very nice guitar riffs, some nice ultra-heavy beats but everything feels stripped to the bones and the songwriting is an insult to the other qualities.
“Craze” and “Power” are ruined by the approach with which the album was written. “Wrath” and “Inane” strangely do not sound so repetitive and have very funny parts but their lyrics are just bland. Inane’s inane lyrics could have been bearable if the instrumental part of the song was not one of the most solid on the album.
Funnier, the chorus of “Son of a gun” is somewhat spoiled by an effect on female vocals (is it flanger ?) which is not to be heard on the superior single version of the song. It is still one of the best on the album though. It’s very catchy and lively. That’s the one we like to remember Xtort
“Blame” and “Rules” certainly are the best songs. Although their structures are still very simple, they move on to an agreeable climax towards the end which allows the listener to actually want to listen until the end of the song. Both have a nice and warm groove to them: an ambient guitar giving a little depth to the whole thing, female vocals, horns on “Blame”, an organ solo on “Rules” and a very cool guitar riff again, and a nice chorus.
“Dogma” will please some and displease others. It actually has a very strong identity, the lyrics are very interesting although only spoken aggressively, the sadomasochistic idea behind the song is quite funny (a female dominatrix is telling the listener how despicable he is) but its peculiarity makes it hard to welcome on an album which is a bit of a shipwreck. It is the type of sidestep which is alright when the rest of the album is good.
Presented like that, Xtort
really sounds like a failure, and it is, but it is not one that you want to laugh at or that you want to despise, it is an album which makes you want to go find the authors and put them back to work because what you hear is great but thrown at you with a lot of complacency. With all its flaws it is still better than the following symbols
which saw the band abandon its signature sound to something… other.