Chronique | Combichrist - CMBCRST

Pierre Sopor 14 mai 2024

Rarely has Combichrist made us wait so long: One Fire is already five years old, five years during which Andy LaPlegua's band have kept us waiting, crumbling us singles since 2021. Now they're back for good with CMBCRST, which will, as usual, annoy a lot of grumpy people who will listen to it on the sly anyway. Combichrist have always been a divisive force, whether it be their prehistoric gruff musical approach or their evolution towards a more metal sound that has lost a few old hands along the way and gained new cohorts ready to frantically wreak havoc in moshpits.

One Fire, however, succeeded in uniting the various facets of Combichrist while opening some surprising doors. If Children of Violence momentarily gives the illusion that its successor will be more electronic, despite the pachydermically heavy riffs, it's nothing of the sort. CMBRST is a savage album, surely Combichrist's most aggressive. D is for Demonic is a quick reminder of this, with a sample about Satan-worshipping cults that sacrifice babies, a Ministry-style thrash/punk feel and a finale that even veers towards black metal. There's no doubt about it, Combichrist still aren't into the avant-garde or over-intellectualisation.

CMBCRST will probably take some time to get used to: its singles, already familiar, hit the mark more easily. Not my Enemy and its self-penned quotations from the band's discography, the already indispensable Compliance and its sinister threats over a martial rhythm that always has an effect, the steamroller Heads Off, Planet Doom and its frantic rhythm or the beats of Modern Demon appeal to our most bestial instincts and work very well, but we've had time to assimilate them and, above all, to see them live. That's where Combichrist really come into their own, with tracks like Only Death is Eternal, Through the Raven Eyes and its refrains from the abyss, Wolves Eating Wolves and Sonic Witch and its gloomy groove grabbing you by the scruff of the neck straight away, promising a great live fiesta. Andy bellowing like a possessed man, they're all very angry and this cathartic violence, absolutely outrageous and unbridled, is highly enjoyable.

Listening to CMBCRST, however, you get the odd impression that you're not having as much fun as you would have hoped. As much as we appreciate the band's frequent nods to horror, presenting their album as a grand demonic exorcism with a B-movie atmosphere that's always appreciated, and we can't help noticing that their more metal leanings are much better mastered than on the overly muddled No Redemption and This is Where Death Begins, we're still missing a spark of madness. The ideas are there, reminding us that Combichrist can also experiment in new directions (we'd love to see them take on this quirk more often such as the psychedelic Children of Violence or the melancholy of Violence Solves Everything), but perhaps they're diluted in tracks that are too long, or that give the impression of repetition (The Northern Path lull is less surprising after Bottle of Pain on the previous album, whose epic overtones were more astonishing). We've known Combichrist to be both weirder and more unifying. Sometimes you get the impression that Combichrist's intention is to make us dance only by bludgeoning our faces off, and all that noise, all that fury, all those guitars and all that darkness ultimately stifle the impact of the percussion a little: you lose the delightful simplicity of the identifiable gimmick. The album perhaps lacks one more simple but unstoppable anthem to bellow in chorus like lobotomised zombies.

However, this impression is certainly skewed by the fact that almost half the album was released as singles, most of which are frighteningly effective. Once again, we'll have to wait and see: with the unique charisma of its musicians, Combichrist will surely succeed in giving us that little touch of pure fun that, for the moment, seems less present. But the band can't be accused of holding back or stagnating: their industrial metal is evolving, modernising, borrowing from both metalcore and extreme metal, and is technically more accomplished than in the past. Yes, CMBCRST has its fair share of big blows and yes, it has potential: now we're waiting to see it explode on stage!