Nitzer Ebb – Industrial Complex Album Review

Artists’ Addiction (Caroline)

By Mike Bax

Note: the ‘Tour Edition’ of Industrial Complex has been floating around for about a year now as an iTunes download, and a tour-only release being sold at concert dates over the past year. This physical release of Industrial Complex, supported by a run of US tour dates through November, contains an additional five songs that are sequenced after the original twelve songs on the Tour Edition.

A going concern in the goth/alternative dance clubs of the late eighties, Nitzer Ebb are one of the pioneering bands of a sound that ultimately became referred to as ‘Industrial’ music by journalists and music video ‘vee-jays’ across the globe. Utilizing a now-familiar song-craft that relied heavily on synthesizers and rapidly sequenced electronic drum beats, Nitzer Ebb has always had a bit of an edge on their contemporaries by way of Douglas McCarthy’s unique and discernable vocals. I’ll bet there isn’t a darkwave fan on the planet who doesn’t know über-addictive 1987 material like ‘Murderous’ and ‘Join In The Chant’ like the back of their hand.

Over the years, Nitzer Ebb released numerous albums, all which touched on but never quite lived up to their debut album That Total Age. That is until now. How odd it is that 23 years after that debut, and after a fifteen year hiatus, that Nitzer Ebb have managed to compose an album of material that is en par with their debut. I’ve been playing the Tour Edition of this album like a mad man since I first heard it nine months ago. Material like ‘Once You Say’, ‘Going Away From Me’, ‘Payroll’, ‘My Door Is Open’ and ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ all bear the distinctive sounds of immediate dance floor classics. ‘I Am Undone’ plays like the album’s showpiece song illustrating why Nitzer Ebb fit in so incredibly well with Depeche Mode on multiple tours over the years.

The Inclusion of ‘On The Road’, two great remixes of ‘I Am Undone’ along with remixes of ‘My Door Is Open’ and ‘Once You Say’ make the commercial release of this album very much worth the price of admission. With a run of live shows in the USA through November to support the release of Industrial Complex it will be interesting to see how commercially viable this release will be 15 years after the release of Big Hit, the bands last commercial release in 1995.

One thing is for sure – fans going to see these live shows on the strength of Nitzer Ebb’s old material are going to be in for quite a surprise when they hear this new stuff – it’s totally bad-ass.