Review Summary: While the beats can come off as unappetizing as well as the overall accessibility, and can be inconsistent, ‘Volk’ is a special record for the band and high-caliber.
Slovenian act, Laibach, delivers an addicting, mildly humorous performance with their eleventh studio album, Volk
. The album gets its chuckling vibe from their re-creations with national anthems (or should I even say creations?), assorting from around the world; and the U.S.A. is on here too. While this album is extremely creative yet lyrically comical in some parts, Volk
is a shiner for the band, and the results are marvelous. So essentially, this album is entirely based on national anthems from fourteen countries, to be precise. Honestly, Laibach is a band that almost always evolves in sound and theme, but this album is a monstrous change compared from their earliest to latest releases.
While this album has been acknowledged by Laibach fans as one of their greatest, I myself just can’t envision it. While the oh-so familiar throaty Laibach vocals are stapled in this album, the musicianship is a bit bare and in some parts a snooze-fest; in other words, this album can be outrageously inconsistent. Remarkably though this album can be very furious and steamy, with booming synthesizers igniting every second like a volcano, and Laibach’s vocalist shouting out words with extraordinary confidence. Luckily though, this album has more gleaming spots than it does dull spots, but can be quite inaccessible to a storm of people who have never heard Laibach.
Underneath all the grainy, subtle beats and introspective vocals, you have a fiery passion displayed by the vocalist. Whether it’s him teasing the lyrics and completely transforming them into a seemingly brand new national anthem, he masterfully accomplishes his devotion towards it and basically gives it a new kind of approach. Take for instance album opener, 'Germania', an obvious national anthem directing towards Germany. While the overall gist to it fiddles with wordplay of the real song itself, it’s ultimately a powerful song with a lazy beat and thought-provoking lyrics: “do you think you can make it?....Deutschland
?” Over the course of most of this, Laibach are incredibly confident with their musicianship and can calm you into a peaceful state.
can be beautifully soothing while other times abrasive. In essence, the tracks are very melodic in sound, electro-pop tinged, and very friendly as a whole. While each track has their individual strengths and flaws, they all blend together swiftly and have a never-choppy transition into the next song. 'Francia' is the France national anthem, featuring a very bright and upbeat synthesizer with a crowd-awarding vocal performance seen by the vocalist. The hit single 'Slovania' does a lovely job with the female-vocalist and her dazzling arrangement alongside a droning, gentle beat, and the piano based short 'Yisrael' both resemble Laibach at their best.
Things can look ugly for this album, though. While the lyrics are appealing and the sound is generally high in expectations, the beats can be rather tasteless at times. That’s not to say they are unlistenable, it’s just saying that if you aren’t used to low-toned synthesizers (occasionally), and sometimes completely unnatural melodies, this album will be far from your path of enjoyment. Some examples could be ones like 'Vaticanae' and 'Anglica'. While the chosen songs are light on the ear and not aggressive, they are a bit strange in delivery and could take numerous opportunities/listens to get fully acquainted to. Just with many albums from the band, they all have their quirky flaws and bumps, but fundamentally speaking this one has a minimum.
Really, there’s nothing severely wrong this album and is an impressively creative album by the gentlemen. Make no mistake, though, this album is a bit inaccessible to not-so-keen fans of Laibach, and is probably not the best place to start. However, if you’re a fan of a pretty good laugh on occasion, and national anthems getting tapered with in a positive yet odd way, Volk
will be the egg in your basket. The album dives into a vast territory of Laibach that you can’t find anywhere else but here.