Suppose for a moment that, on the occasion of the first departure of David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen had announced that he was reforming the band under the new appellation Nav Nelah and that its sound and attitude and execution would be completely different. Would you get on board for that?
That scenario effectively describes the recent developments in the saga of German industrial trailblazers KMFDM. After a decade and a half of defining the narrow niche of distorted guitar-based techno trance, KMFDM (whose name roughly translated into "No Pity For the Majority") called it a dancing day back in January 1999. Almost immediately upon dissolution, prime mover Sascha Konietzko and recent addition Tim Skold announced that the band would reform as MDFMK, a moniker they had already road-tested with a single in 1998.
At first blush the beats and heavily treated guitars are still in drenching evidence on MDFMK's eponymous debut, a full year after the band's alphabetical reconfiguration. Dig a little deeper and the differences become slightly more focused. The newly reordered MDFMK is considerably less politicized than its mirrored predecessor, with the songs reflecting a more personal viewpoint. The addition of former Drill frontwoman Lucia Cifarelli has given the new lineup an interesting twist, with the poppier moments suggesting a metal techno Blondie vibe ("Get Out of My Head"). Guitarist Skold (ex- Shotgun Messiah) retains his powerful metal edge while working a variety of alternative directions, referencing everyone from Jane's Addiction ("Torpedoes," "Be Like Me") to a beat-frenzied ZZ Top ("Witch Hunt").
There's a certain craft and subtlety coming through on MDFMK that was lacking in its reversed and often bludgeoning counterpart. The band is writing real, discernible songs of varying intensities as well as utilizing layers of thick, chunky riffage under more delicate sonic shards. This synthesis creates a sound that's rooted in its past but clearly breaking with it at the same time. MDFMK has added an unexpected pop element to its military/ industrial complex, which has ultimately resulted in a more textured and less relentless musical entity.