One quick perusal through the comments section on Facebook after the announcement and a sampler were posted for This Is Where Death Begins, Combichrist’s 8th album, and it’s pretty obvious that the Combi camp falls into two very passionate categories: the die hards and the haters. The haters are there to endlessly languish about the demise of Combichrist’s earlier aggrotech sound and constantly comment how they use “too many guitars” and are “way too metal”. Then there’s the die-hards who, you guessed it, love the fuck out of the band no matter what they evolve into.
The beauty of our society is that we get to have those opinions and express them (And even have Combichrist respond back to some with hilarious results). Then there’s the beauty of my job where I get an advanced copy of the record in question and can devilishly smile as the arguments play out online knowing what’s to come.
So is the new record finally going to unite the tribes again? Well, not exactly. Combichrist is never going to completely go back to their original sound. What band wants to? This beast started as a voice for vocalist Andy LaPlegua and has since morphed into a full-fledged band so yeah, the guitars are staying for a bit. That said, This Is Where Death Begins is probably the closest amalgamation of the two eras that the band has ever achieved.
I’d go on to point out that this song sounds like it could’ve been on this Combi record or that one but the truth is, every Combichrist record has its own unique sound and this one is no different. “We are the Plague” begins This Is Where Death Begins in classic Combichrist fashion by absolutely crushing skulls with a flurry of chugging guitars and ominous synths as LaPlegua switches from a subtle bark to a vitriolic scream (The last “Watch this place burn!” LaPlegua wails on will leave you with chills). “My Life My Rules” which follows is a goddamn anthem and a half. A veritable sing-a-long even! And a fucking pulverizing beast to boot. You can almost picture drummer Joe Letz’s arms flailing away on stage during this while he continuously messes with his drum tech. Then “Glitchteeth” almost completely abandons the guitars and reminds listeners of some of those KMFDM electro noise jams of the mid-’90’s.
The synthetics and guitars mesh in perfect synchronicity during “Exit Eternity” which features a glorious screamfest of a chorus on top of it all. And the electro-ferocity doesn’t stop there! “Time Again” is an electronic tribal assault propelled by Brent Ashley’s low end and Letz’s almost hypnotic pounding while “Don’t Care How You Feel About It” is pure electro gold with swirling synthetics that make the song fit for an interpretive dance routine at your favorite goth club.
Then “Blackened Heart” enters and the Letz drum show returns in full with Eric 13’s syncopated riffing. “Tired Of Hating You”, meanwhile, is like an old school Sister Machine Gun song until the floodgates open and it becomes a full-fledged shredfest. And if you like the shred then head on over to “Slakt”, a raucous headbanger and easily a pit favorite going forward. Later on, “Black Tar Dove pt2” is all bleeps and boops and noise (Those are obviously technical terms) until “Homeward” closes up the 15-track beast and hearkens back to We Love You‘s brutal opener during its epic conclusion.
In the end, though, haters gonna hate and die-hards are gonna stay hard but up until this moment there hasn’t been a Combichrist album as near perfect as this one. Hear for yourself when This Is Where Death Begins is unveiled in all its glorious brutality on June 3rd through Out Of Line Music. A slew of pre-order options are available here and here.