Review Summary: ...And This Is What The Devil Does...
Back in 1987, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult grew out of a B-movie concept vocalist Groovie Mann and keyboard player Buzz McCoy had planned about "tabloid tales of sex and Satan, kitschy horror and exploitation films in the style of Russ Myers". The band decided to scrap the idea because of limited resources and experience in the domain and form an industrial group under the aforementioned moniker. The band have undergone a lot of changes throughout the years and what we hear on I See Good Spirits & I See Bad Spirits
is the beginning of the long-term collaboration between the two, still going strong these days.
I See Good Spirits & I See Bad Spirits
came out before the band embraced the more organic, bass-heavy acid house influences, thus giving way to the members' obsession with occult themes and relying mostly on synthesizers and sometimes on heavily distorted guitars, mostly evident on "X-Communication", which might be one of their hardest songs. There's less debauchery and more crime-tinged stories, as Groovie Mann takes several yet superficial stabs at Christianity (for example, chaotic and unclear stabs at Virgin Mary on "X-Communication", calling her "killer of Christ[...]equipped with revenge", etc.) and attempts to shock through macabre combinations of nursery rhymes, sex, tales of horror, the devil and others, along with matching samples. The guys had their points enough to stir controversy at the time among the PMRC members.
Besides the infamous "Do You Fear (For Your Child)", there are some highlights here worthy of mentioning, such as the underground club hit "...And This Is What The Devil Does" (that could find its place anytime on Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine
as well as Ministry's Land Of Rape And Honey
), which emphasizes more on the music than the lyrics, Groovie Mann being pushed back in the mix and distorted to the point he becomes more of a soundscape rather than a voice. Another good track is the fast paced and trashy "On This Rack", that instrumentally hints more towards the direction the band would take in the next years, featuring some groovy beats and hellish voices, especially on the chorus. In between slower numbers like "These Remains" and "Gateway To Hell", this song is perfectly positioned, giving life and fun to the record when it really needs some.
Maybe not such a seminal release as let's say, Ministry's Land Of Rape And Honey
, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult joined with this record the overall industrial explosion in the late 80s albeit in a lighter way. Much like KMFDM, who at the time were trying to find their feet, TKK still had to refine their sound. The Bomb Gang Girlz are absent here, but the group is as strong as ever compensating with a lot of samples that shape the songs. Unfortunately, like most industrial albums released at the time, the synths, keyboards and soundscapes are heavily indebted in the technology used that time (at the time being considered advanced), which now might feel to some slightly outdated. Still, any industrial fan will find enough here to enjoy, much like other classics released that era.
Nevertheless, I See Good Spirits & I See Bad Spirits
is a remarkably solid debut, even if sometimes it loses focus. Some songs found here are now considered classics of the band's, such as "...And This Is What The Devil Does" and "Do You Fear (For Your Child)", those being catchy enough to make the listener come back to the record for another spin.