Why I love the new Combichrist: We Love You album

The new album from Combichrist – We Love You, has been on super high rotation this past fortnight. Combichrist album number seven is the latest addition to the Combichrist discography and I can tell you, hands down, this release has re-invigorated my love for this band. It’s also sparked renewed personal interest in EBM, industrial, aggrotech and whatever else the kids call it these days.
According to my LastFM stats I played Combichrist 264 times in one week. That’s because I’m one of those people who just loves to quantify their favourite music. However, not everyone loves the We Love You album. I’ve had fierce debates with friends about this album’s merits, and predictably there has been no shortage of naysayers on the internet.
If it’s a matter of personal taste then that’s cool by me. However, I’m not convinced that many of the complaints that I’ve heard about the We Love You album are entirely legitimate.

Here are several reason why Combichrist: We Love You rocks out.


What’s that? The new Combichrist album has *God forbid* guitars!? Aha! This must be a sign that they’re suffering from an identity crisis. No doubt those Rammstein guys had something to do with it on that world tour they did together, leading Combichrist away from the path of holy electro synth EBM purity.
Yes, the We Love You album has plenty of guitars. They’re not subtly ‘integrated’ either, buried behind the synths and other layers as many terror banana artists have been known to do. These are full, shred-driven tracks with minimal electronics.
And apparently that’s not allowed, if the great number of complaints about the guitars are an indicator.

You know who else played exclusively with either guitars or synths — and was then famously praised for doing a complete about face? How about Ulver. Ministry. Trent Reznor. Or if you want to dig deeply, how about that most revered of techno, acid house and Belgian New Beat producers, Praga Khan, the brains behind Lords Of Acid?
If you stopped enjoying industrial music when Throbbing Gristle stopped using tape loops, well that’s your right. But I just don’t buy the argument from the EBM police that the inclusion of prominent guitars automatically detracts from the Combichrist or EBM industrial aggrotech identity, or whatever the hell ‘it’ is.
You know where the name Combichrist came from? From a zine, published during Andy LaPlegua’s punk days. You know, when he was the vocalist for a punk band? A band that played those dirty, stinking, non-EBM-industrial guitars.
But let’s just say that if the We Love You Album did focus exclusively on synths, it raises the question of…


I’m going to have a hard time supporting this bit of my argument, so here goes.
To be an artist who releases multiple albums is to walk the path of a moral dilemma.
That’s because when you release your first album, the second album better be different to the first one — but not too different, mind you. If you don’t change it enough, you’re stagnating. If you change too much, you annoy those fans who were there ‘from the beginning’.
The old adage that you can please all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but never all of the people all of the time, rings true here (see people's listening habits below as to how widespread this is). You tread an ever-changing, nebulous line because no matter what you do, according to someone, somewhere on the internet you’ll always be wrong.
 Combichrist listening stats according to LastFM. As you can tell, everyone
has their favourite (the ones with the hearts are my personal ones).

There are 13 tracks of varying lengths on the We Love You album. Three and a half tracks are primarily guitar-based: The Evil In Me, Love Is A Razorblade, Retreat Hell Pt. 1 and half of Retreat Hell Pt. 2 (half of this track is dodgy ‘ambient’ recording of some sort mixed with other sounds).
The remaining three quarters of the album is solid, comfortably familiar, electronic, synth-driven tracks, with either minimal guitars or none at all.
And that is the point that I think has been lost in translation. There’s very little filler (save for the stuffing around on the last track) on We Love You. There are half a dozen tracks of pure unadulterated electronic fun, plus a couple of toned down or more average ones. For me, the rest of the album just doesn’t feel like it’s packed with that all-too-common affliction found on so many electronic albums in this genre — filler.
Let’s face a fact: critically acclaimed electronic albums where 100 per cent of all the compositions are certified genius just don’t come round that often. Unless you’re Kraftwerk or Giorgio Moroder, fans are not going to drop to their knees at the mention of every track on even your very best full-length effort. In fact, even a very good album will still have the trusted standout tracks, which of course means there will be all those other lesser well known (stand in? sit in?) tracks. These selections will inevitably be thought of by many as filler, by virtue of the fact that they’re not soul-touchingly awesome like the standouts.
On We Love You, a brave attempt was made to do something genuinely left-of-centre with the tracks that aren’t barn-stormers. The exercise happens to involve guitars and it presents a new dimension. And it’s still Combichrist.
But you know what? Even if you’re still not convinced of the merits of the We Love You album due to the mere presence of a couple of stringed instruments, this doesn’t change the fact that…


The pre-album single, From My Cold Dead Hands may not be the most memorable track, but I assure you it grows on you. I know this, because I bought the single and didn’t think too much of it at first. Repeated listens changed that.
I also had the privilege of being the first person to play a legitimate copy of this song at a club down here in Melbourne. It worked, and by that I mean it did everything you expect of a dancefloor track: it was fun, it got people moving and dancing, and I'm sure it would become a recognised and satisfying floor filler if it got played enough.
As for the album proper, there are no shortage of tracks which you'll instantly recognise, from the moment you hear them, for what they're meant to be: club hits like We Rule The World Motherfuckers and Every Day Is War. They are pure Combichrist, electronic anthem action, dancefloor assault fodder of the best kind, designed and built to honestly do one thing: rock out and dance your arse off.
The track Maggots At The Party ticks every one of those boxes, which makes it in my view everything that is great about this band.

Combichrist: Maggots At The Party

I could tell you how much I love this song but I think I’ll just repeat the YouTube comment I left instead (when I was in an admittedly excited state).

Andy has absolutely nailed it on this track. A massive head banging sound. High-larious non-sensical lyrics. And a vibe that's dripping with tongue-in-cheek hedonism. The party on this track rocks so hard, if it were capable of being any more fun it'd cause cardiac arrests.

Maggots At The Party is another Electrohead or This Shit Will Fcuk You Up. It’s unashamedly meant to be an anthem, a sing-a-along, a booty shaker and headbanger. Yet I’ve heard all sorts of criticisms, from the fact that the lead synth sounds suspiciously like a guitar to the lack of depth to the lyrics.
Which is all well and good I suppose, assuming one crucial thing is overlooked when it comes to Combichrist, namely…


It still astounds me when I hear complaints about Combichrist lyrics. Notwithstanding the fact that English ain’t Andy LaPlegua’s first language, the mere fact that anyone would search for deeper significance in Combichrist lyrics suggests that something in the listener’s life is being taken rather too seriously.
Combichrist has always been about partying and hedonism and rocking out. About drinking and getting wasted. About repetitive choruses. Inane statements. But always topped in thick layers of fatalism. Party-fatalism if you may.
If you’re searching for profound and sentimental meaning in EBM industrial lyrics, you should follow VNV Nation and Stromkern (or for unintentionally hilarious lyrics, Centhron and Funker Vogt rarely disappoint).
Indeed, Combichrist lyrics are a common target for the band’s detractors. One could go on and on about how this accusation — as much as it is a valid indictment of a Norwegian man’s lesser grasp of English expression and syntax — is simply barking up the wrong tree. Instead of saying that guitars are not what Combichrist is about, the charge should be that “serious” is not what Combichrist is about.
As I said, there’s a lot to be said here. So instead I’ll let the following example speak for itself.

Firstly, watch this video. Or at least watch half of it. Bear with me, I assure you this is entirely relevant.

This track is called Treat Me Like A Pirate by hip hop crew Turquoise Jeep. They became popular after releasing some pretty funny videos on YouTube, albeit in the so-bad-it’s-good category. One of their videos has been viewed more than 10,000,000 times. And who could argue, what with lyrics like the following?

“Treat me like a pirate”
“And give me that booty”
“Got my long sword not to kill but to pleasure”
“Deep sea diving, searching for her treasure”

Now, below is a Combichrist live video (shot on someone’s phone?) when the crew were finishing their recent US tour. If you CBF watching, it’s Combichrist making a surprise introduction of the Turquoise Jeep crew on stage — where they perform Treat Me Like A Pirate together.
At a Combichrist concert.

Apart from being a great rendition, this moment says more to me than anything else about just where this band is at — and where their fans should be at. The EBM police would be outraged!

In conclusion, there’s a lot to love about the We Love You album. Yes, there were many who were shocked by the inclusion of guitars, and this has elicited many mixed feelings.
It’s radically different (I’m not counting the No Redemption soundtrack as a spiritual predecessor — it was a soundtrack commissioned for a video game and it was created for a very specific context).
Maybe if you love both electronic and analogue music (i.e. synths and guitar) you’ll get it. Or maybe you’ll like it regardless. Whatever the case, the changes on We Love You are a brave move for which Andy LaPlegua is to be applauded.

I once posted how one of the problems with getting older is that it’s so much harder to get excited about new music. This is most likely as much due to biological reasons — the brain physically gets more set in its ways — as it is due to the inevitable fact that your favourite band or genre was always at its peak when you first fell in love with it.
That makes me something of a cynic when it comes to new music. And this old cynic has not been this excited about a new album in a very long time.
If you’re not enjoying the We Love You album then it’s possible you have an allergy to fun.

Now all Combichrist need to do is come back to Australia and rock out.

If they still do it, I'm even looking forward to one of those VIP pizza nights they do before the show.

They should call it... Maggots At The Pizza Party! See what I did there?

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