I'll tell you... I just had one of the strangest musical experiences of my life! Let me tell you a little story before I begin the review! Way back in 1989 when Chevey Chase still had a career, people still knew who Joe Piscopo was and MTV gave a jolly groin-jerk to hard rock there debuted a band called Shotgun Messiah! Shotgun Messiah appeared at the time to pretty much be what a thousand other bands at the time appeared to be... a long haired, feminine-dressing, makeup wearing group of pretty boys! Being at the time I was a long-haired pretty boy (without the Makeup and Clothes) I was one of those guys who jumped on Shotgun Messiah like a destitute seven year old on a donated trampoline! They were rebellious partiers, had a cool look, screaming vocals, great guitar solos, and were one of the first bands to incorporate Rap into the heavy metal mix (though admittedly not as effectively as Anthrax, or even RUN D.M.C.)! The most interesting and flamboyant member of Shotgun Messiah was a character who performed Bass and some vocals named Tim Tim. That's it. No real last name! Even the songs he had penned were credited to "Tim," so naturally, no one knew his full name when the first album came out. As the years wore on I listened to those guys less and less, only occasionally taking their debut CD out to listen to Shout it Out or Don't Care 'Bout Nothin'! I even went so far as to add Shout It Out to my latest CD compilation known as Rap and Metal can Never Mixxx Volume 3. I never bought any more Shotgun Messiah albums, and Tim Tim was relegated to the position of "Guilty Pleasure!"
Flash forward several years where I apparently paid no attention to anything related to that style of music. In fact, I had found more interest in Industrial Music (though my tastes are pretty eclectic and not categorizable). One of my favorite bands along the years has became KMFDM, an industrial band from Germany who made Chicago their base of operations. The Core of KMFDM from the beginning had been Sascha Konietzko, coupled with En Esch (and in the very beginning Udo Sturm). KMFDM put out a number of remarkable albums both in the Electronica and finally Metal-Influenced Industrial Genres, most notably the incredible 1995 release Nihil!
With Esch taking on a solo career in the late nineties, Sascha recruited a new co-frontman in the form of Tim Skold, a Swedish screamer with skills at programming as well as heavy Bass and Six String. Skold remained a co-frontman with Sascha through their "farewell" album Adios as well as the MDFMK period. Skold proved he could hold his own and added quite a bit to the already rich and diverse KMFDM sound!
Reuniting KMFDM proper Skold, Konietzko, and William Rieflin (former Ministry and Revolting Cocks drummer who took over skins duties from Esch), the group released a new album called Attak! And what an Attak it is! This is vintage KMFDM from the harmonized assault of Attak/Reload to the Konietzko growl of Dirty to the familiar female-voiced Sleep there isn't a bad track on the album! The same old KMFDM conceits are there (more self reference than a P. Diddy album, flow between metal guitar and disco beats) without once sounding derivative of themselves or others!
Some highlights include the Anthemic Superhero that is both iconoclastic and ironic; Skurk, a let-it-all-out emotional purge that belongs right up there with Soundgarden's Ty Cobb as one of the angriest songs ever recorded; the menacing Urban Monkey Warfare which could have stood as the US Army's theme song during Gulf War II had things gone as predicted; and the dour and poetic Save Me during which Skold sounds almost as if he is about to either weep or scream in fury!
Like MDFMK (essentially their last album prior to this one, name change be damned) Tim and Sascha remain comfortable with experimenting with guitar progressions and new takes on their quite un-formulaic formula. Unlike MDFMK the songs all feel very individualized and stand out well from the crowd. As great as MDFMK was, ATTAK is even better! Nothing on this album could be confused with any other band, certainly not a "dance" outfit as they have been mistaken for a number of times, but at the same time ATTAK never pretends to be what it's not! KMFDM's influences (as many as there are) are well represented here, so this never feels like a "Departure" or a "Nostalgic return to form" but more of a progression without pretension. It's a great, heavy album that can be heard multiple times and enjoyed each time in different ways! If KMFDM continue in this direction fans won't have to worry much about another Adios any time soon. Unlike most bands out today, KMFDM has some Juice left in them!
So why all this information about some Bop-Pop-Metal band from the late '80s in a review of KMFDM's 2002 release? (Ah, you've guessed it by now... or you knew and I'm just slow!) I was listening to Rap and Metal can Never Mixxx Volume 3 and heard the bubblegum rap-metal of Shout It Out. Nostalgia got the best of me and I decided to do some internet research and find out what old Tim Tim had been up to lately! Was he destined for greatness, or was he painting houses with the Rhythm Guitarist from Kix? Imagine my surprise when I discovered Tim's real last name was... Skold. Yes! That Tim Skold. I spit my Hazlenut flavored coffee all over my computer monitor at this news (but I would have found a reason anyway, let's face it)! KMFDM's Singer and Bass Player whom I had been listening to for years was the same guilty pleasure I had jammed to in that teeny bopper glam metal band! Evolution is possible I guess.
The beauty of this is that I get to go around saying things like "Oh, yeah Tim Skold! I've been listening to that guy since the 1980's! I knew he was going places!" At last, Shotgun Messiah can be considered something besides my Guilty Pleasures! I think I'll blast out my office mate with a little of "Harry K's Screamin' Guitar" and "T-T-Tim's big Pumpin' Bass!" I'll let you know how that goes!
Four and one half stars for ATTAK! Not only is it the best industrial album so far this Millennium, not only is it wonderfully written and performed, not only is this both progressive with a nod to the Roots, but it's final proof that my purchase of Shotgun Messiah was more than just a donation to the Columbia House Empire! Tim Tim, you rule, under any name!