The idea of Tim Skold collaborating once again with KMFDM is exciting. Two old friends together again.
Even the concept of the album itself is unique. Every track would be created by one half of the pairing, then traded to the other for a different take on the material. The end result would then be more than a full album’s worth of material, giving both KMFDM and Tim Skold plenty of time to showcase their unique styles.
KMFDM is no stranger to albums that are a little longer than they probably should be, but Skold vs. KMFDM feels like an album of rejected B-sides that weren’t good enough to make it on a compilation of already mediocre B-sides.
The potentially interesting competing personalities idea is almost completely unrealized. Most of the full tracks are the same style of generic, plodding electronic/dance/industrial and show no sign at all of the person behind them.
Instead of being alternate versions of existing songs, the vast majority of them just sound like electronic, atmospheric white noise. Only one of them is over two minutes long, but you’ll quickly grow appreciative of that because there’s not a single one of them that’s worth listening to.
Calling any of them a “song” would be vastly stretching the definition. There’s usually little to no beat, no tune, no melody, no lyrics, no actual structure, anything catchy, or anything remotely appealing about them.
You know those little short, pointless atmospheric interludes that some bands like to throw in the middle of their albums because they think it changes the pace a bit or adds variety or something? The miniature not-songs you’ll listen to once and then skip because they add nothing to the album, totally screw up its flow and pacing, and have nothing appealing about them at all? The tracks that basically have no reason to exist except for being filler, giving the band an excuse to fiddle around with their shiny computer programs, and possibly adding that nice little bit of pretentiousness to the whole affair?
Imagine an album with one of those obnoxious things in between every single track. I dare anybody to get into the flow of this album. Hell, I dare anybody to find the flow of this album. It’s an impossible endeavor. These needless wastes of time totally ruin anything even resembling momentum this album could have ever hoped to have.
Not that it had much chance of gaining traction with the listener in the first place, seeing as how even the majority of the full-length tracks are forgettable. Even the most well-realized songs on this album could be bested by some of KMFDM’s more mediocre efforts.
And may the higher powers above help us, KMFDM has now been involved with a track that uses Auto-Tune. Error 404 is almost sickening. The thing sounds like an escaped Eiffel 65 song or something. Slow and plodding just like most of the rest of the album, with the added bonus of sometimes cringe-inducing lyrics and that abhorrent vocal effect grating against the eardrums in the chorus. This song is a prime example of why these folks shouldn’t try to do ballads. Yuck.
Bloodsport is the sole appealing cut of the entire album. It has a great beat, catchy chorus, and most of the other makings of a pretty decent KMFDM song in their purely electronic dance style. Find this one song somewhere and add it to your collection, but don’t bother with the rest.
That’s not to say absolutely everything else here is terrible. Why Me, Love is Like, A Common Enemy, and Alkohol are all varying shades of listenable.
But that just brings us back to the problem with the album as a whole. I’m not sure whether KMFDM wanted to do something new and experimental with this release and failed at innovating, or if they were just trying to go back to basics and failed at making it interesting, but it’s one of the two.
Not only does this album fail at bringing anything new to the table, it doesn’t even do generic very well. Even its biggest successes are drastically overshadowed by so much of the band’s other work that Skold vs. KMFDM is almost laughably pointless for all but the most fanatically die-hard fans.
It’s truly a shame. I was looking forward to what this unique concept could bring to the table. All I found in the final product was a lot of boredom and wasted potential. KMFDM’s 25th anniversary deserves a better celebration than this. Let’s hope Blitz can bring it, though I’m not as hopeful of that prospect as I once was.