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Combichrist – One Fire review

Label: Out Of Line

Release Date: Out Now

Genre: Industrial Metal

Band Members
Andy LaPlegua
Eric 13
Nick Rossi

Tracklist:

  1. Intro
  2. Hate Like Me
  3. Broken United
  4. Guns At Last Dawn
  5. Lobotomy
  6. One Fire
  7. Bottle Of Pain
  8. 2045
  9. Interlude
  10. Understand
  11. California Uber Alles
  12. Last Days Under The Sun
  13. The Other

When I first put this on, it confused me.  It felt disjointed, jarring in the way the tracks were listed and played and seemed to jump from one genre to another.  There are obviously the industrial tracks of which some hark back to Combichrist before ‘This Is Where Death Begins’ (which I loved) while others are kind of more harmonious and deep and thoughtful without the distraction of that much loved electronic synth beats and fast pace. 

However, as with all albums, there are ‘hook songs’, the ones that you find on the album so you keep playing it and as you listen more, you start to get drawn in more and more by the other songs until it all makes sense and this is what this is.  When you start to take note of the lyrics more, you realise that this is maybe a story – hard to tell but this feels like Andy LaPlegua is talking about the growing apart of brothers or friends even though there is that element of anger and hate all the way through.

‘Intro’ is basically just a cacophony of modern noise which maybe, as quite often happens with this band, feels like it is leading up to the songs talking about the breakdown of modern society and descent into dystopia but its not.  This album, at least to me, is about relationships and not necessarily lovers.  This does lead neatly though to the next track which is one of my ‘hooks’.

‘Hate Like Me’ goes straight into the heavy industrial riffs and the drums make this a heavy track reminiscent of their last album.  This is not a bad thing at all as I enjoyed that album and this does have elements of Rammstein I think but not too much – it is totally Combichrist and I really look forward to seeing this being performed live next time I can.  Andy’s vocals are also excellent on this with that mix of screaming and then switching to singing – this is always a win for me as I like the mix of both on a song. 

The title track ‘One Fire’ is also this way and does what it needs to do and deliver this heavy industrial tone that we want.

There are quite a few of these electronic punk and aggrotech songs like these on the album such as ‘Last Days Under the Sun’ which is one of my favourite tracks on this album.  Again this has gone back to Combichrist’s electronic past and after Andy’s opening vocals, it trips into that intense but steady beat that I remember dancing to all those years ago at Slimelights in London – the danceable industrial music that I had in my 20’s.  This may not be a classic metal track for some of our readers but then it goes BANG and the heavy riff rips in for the chorus but the beat staying consistent and maybe it offers something a tad heavier for them.  It would not be out of place in a metal club in London that plays great music by bands like Fear Factory   It is a grower like a few of the songs on this album.  Broken United is another of my favourites along this line – love the drums in the background and it is heavy with Andy’s screaming vocals especially when the chorus kicks in. 

There are a couple of songs that I struggle with.  Lobotomy is one even though it may work as a club song somewhere and yeah, that slow rhythm and the low vocals from Andy at the beginning works but…I then get a bit bored with it.  It is a tad monotonous and does not have those hooks that keep your interest going.  It is only when the beat speeds up and it goes into the chorus that it becomes interesting but there is not enough of it.  The only thing that is working for it is the beat in the background but they have far superior songs on this album that also deliver this but with a lot more.

2045 is another one – I’m sorry but it loses my interest.  Its…boring.  It just trudges along with Andy shouting along over the Narrator – almost the Spoken Word or shall we say the Screamed Word.  Maybe it is a nod to what will happen in the future but at least make it interesting. Maybe it has a strong meaning but I kind of don’t have the energy to try and work it out which is a shame because honestly I do really love the rest of this album.  It is one that will certainly be on repeat play for me. 

Now there are a few tracks that deserve a mention for reason of their own and I will then stop whittling on . 

Firstly  ‘Guns At Last Dawn’ purely because it has Burton C. Bell (Fear Factory) screaming along which is uber cool and then goes all Motorhead ‘Ace of Spaes’ speed – what is not to like?  I will admit that I did not like this one when I first heard it but on repeat, it works so bloomin’ well!

Next Bottle of Pain gets a mention because this is not a new track.  This deep and melancholy song appeared in the soundtrack for 2012’s ‘Underworld: Awakening’ and even though it does have a slight pirate feel, deserves your attention.  That melody in the background almost seems to lull you to oblivion which may be the plan with lyrics such as ‘Well I brought this bottle of pain/I have murder on my brain. Come on and give it a try if you wanna die’ – it is Combichrist after all!  Maybe this is what Alestorm would sound like if they were sober?  Either way, I am very happy that this is on the album as it is a beautiful song that just stays in my head once I hear it.

Lastly California Uber Alles – well when I heard this, I had to then go and listen to the original track by the Dead Kennedys which was released in 1980 and dare I say it? I prefer Combichrist’s version even though the original is great but Andy’s interpretation of this is so much richer and has a depth that you don’t realise was needed until now.  I mean just listen to the beginning with the opening guitars – it just works! This may not fit in so much to what I think is the overriding theme of the album which hints at the breaking up of some sort of friendship and the impact of it but with lyrics like ‘I am Governor Jerry Brown/My aura smiles and never frowns. Soon I will be president.’ and ‘Close your eyes, can’t happen here/Big Bro’ on white horse is near/The hippies won’t come back you say/ Mellow out or you will pay’, it is frighteningly close to what is happening in our world right now.  Remind you of anyone we know?  

Overall I really am enjoying listening to this and have been nodding my head in time to this on the bus – I think I love whatever direction Andy and the gang at Combichrist go because it keeps it new and different for me.  I love classic rock all the way to industrial to dance to thrash to whatever genre of rock and metal you can get so this is why I am a fan.  They don’t bore me (apart from those two songs but the less said the better.

SCORE 8/10

Reviewed by: Lucy Walker

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