Another week, another reformation. I’d only seen these Berlin breakbeat terrorists once before down in London over a decade ago, then in their violent death throes before their break up following the breakdown of MC Carl Crack. Reeling from his death there was a long uncertain period before it became evident that they had called it a day, and while solo projects from the rest of Alec, Hanin, and Nic went off on tangents from this original core of the digital hardcore legends they were ultimately missed.
Whether this rather expensive ticket to the insalubrious basement that is Moho would be a justified return or just a semi-retirement money-spinner would be seen, so it was good to be in the position to accompany Gwyn once more and hear the word from Mr Empire himself before the show. Definitely no rock-star attitude, a really amenable and personable guy, enthused himself by the massive wave of interest again in the band that seems to demonstrate they were gone before their time and there is still a relevance for them in the here and now. You can hear the full interview on tudno.fm presently.
So, after a break elsewhere for essentials such as food beer and craic we came back to catch the end of the support bands, Flesh Eating Foundation who I seem to recall Skinflick playing alongside once, and locals The Ladder, some good vocals among the mix but their industrial keyboard lines a bit too repetitive. Anyway, up towards the front for the start and even closer again when some more people bailed out after the first song! From the off there was no doubting the intensity, even if this is with their one new track “Activate” that may not have reached the level of appreciation of some of their classics yet. Thumping and blasting electronics, all manipulated by each of the three onstage, including new addition US MC CX Kidtronik, while all three of them also weave amongst each other and over into the crowd delivering the rapid fire polemic. Nic Endo now provides the female vocals, and while Hanin is missed for whatever fallout he said/she said reasons, Nic shows she is more than capable of matching her in bringing the rage to the fore. Blazing strobes punctuate the furious beats, or drop to sombre lighting for their occasional atmospheric haunting breaks. The setlist is just gem after gem through their history, from the oldest, more straightforward barrage of “Into the Death” and “Midi junkies (gonna fuck you up)” through the bulk of my favourites from the brutal, metallic “The Future of War” to the sheer noise punk chaos of those on “60 Second Wipeout”. Additional bonus of the rarity of the Slayer collaboration, “No Remorse”. The only real break has Alec have a breathless but lengthy, meandering but pointed rant at the state of the world and how “The Future…” album is now banned for sale in Germany under the index maintained by the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons. Because of course it might incite someone to throw a fire extinguisher off a building or something. And does contain the line “Cut all policemen into pieces” ;). While their new Mc has been cited as well placed to bring a perspective on current Amerikkka I only vaguely pick up something on Obama and “it’s been the same since 1860” (Lincoln’s election?) among the sonic turmoil of one intro. But as with all the best motivational songs/bands they are merely there to provide the prompt and kicking back in with the incredible “Get up while you can” certainly triggers more mayhem here. The encore is obvious with the absence of “Revolution Action” up to that point and it all descends into satisfying white noise/white light oblivion with Alec waving a police siren megaphone over the crowd like some apocalyptic warning come too late. Or is it? Do fascist governments always bring out the best protest art?
Superb night, and hopefully they will keep this berserk firestarting mashup appearing on an occasional basis for some time, conserving the righteous anger similar to how refreshed and vital Godflesh (Justin Broadrick having been a previous collabotator with Alec Empire on the Curse of the Golden Vampire project) seemed in Birmingham after their own recent hiatus. Pace yourself guys, it’s a marathon and a sprint. I felt like I’d done both after that pit.