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Spectre is Laibach's first studio album since 2006's Volk, and the follow up the original sound track for Iron Sky (dir. Timo Vuorensola, 2012) and Reproduction Prohibited, a collection of Laibach's interpretations of songs.
The new album sees Laibach once again 're-inventing' itself in a newly born, yet polished and solid formation. And, as is now their custom, Laibach calls into question all the rigid and cemented interpretations (and prejudices) about itself, about its music, intentions, philosophy and ideology.
With Spectre, Laibach has created a big, important and almost dangerous step forward; it seems that this time the band has fatally crossed the Rubicon. On this album the group which has never defined itself politically, but has, nevertheless, constantly analyzed politics through its work comes across as politically engaged as never before. Spectre sounds like a political manifesto manifest in poetic form, titles and lyrics couldn't be more direct. With these lyrics and songs, Laibach, who has always given a controversial impression or an impression of controversy especially in terms of its political orientation, is now very clearly taking a position on the political spectrum and probably irreversibly abolishing its own (to some extent quite comfortable) political 'freedom' and neutrality.
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Top Customer Reviews
Also, it's interesting to hear the band finally shed their previously, purposely vague and neutral political leanings and make a stand. To quote another, far more succinct critic: "Yes, things are so bad in the world today that even Laibach aren’t comfortable sitting back and taking the piss anymore."
Laibach has always explored the distortion of art within totalitarian world views, finding new genres to bend to a totalitarian message. They've tried a little bit of everything - noise albums in the 80s and early 90s, covering the Beatles, covering national anthems, and with "Spectre", they go for a sound that's reminiscent of an Indie dance party. Mostly. The political and social message still takes first place, which is what they're trying to prove - that art is the servant of larger ideologies.
So, do you read that and say, "Wow, I need to hear this!" Then buy the album - it's well-done, and I've enjoyed it immensely. If you think that Laibach's method sounds indulgent, then I'd recommend sticking to purchasing one or two tracks - "Eat Liver" is a particularly catchy, heavy dance track that still packs a wallop in lyrics.
On the hand there are signs of sloppiness and shallowness, and some very odd things like Eat Liver, which sounds like a get up and party song collided with the Kidney Thieves. A couple tracks only manage to be catchy in a way I can tell will grate on repeat listens (Bossanova for example. Nice snare drums!).
Every song is pure genius. It swings from solemn lyrics to headbanging in an instant, sweet industrial dance into crazy keyboard riffs.
I absolutely love it! "you will be assimilated with Blitzkrieg" <everybody mosh>
1. “The Whistleblowers”
This song has your standard Laibachian martial beats and choruses, and some orchestral bits reminiscent of Opus Dei, along with quite a bit of whistling. This song is a much friendlier version of Laibach; if it didn’t have Milan Fras singing, it would be perfectly appropriate in a fourth-grade class musical. Strangely, Milan Fras sounds like he is out of breath the whole time, like he has emphysema. Its not a bad song, but its nothing outstanding.
2. “No History”
This has a very stuttering beat, with Milan Fras and Mina Spiler going back and forth on vocals. Lots of cool sound effects, and a somewhat harsh sound that still sounds kind of slick due to a very high-quality production. This is basically Laibach doing dubstep. Its an interesting song, but if it weren’t for Milan you wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from all the other dubstep out there today. This song is in the same general musical style as “Volk.”
3. “Eat Liver”
This is a very up-tempo song with a simple beat, and with Mina Spiler on vocals. This sounds like a DAF song but with a modern slick production and Laibach’s slick sound effects, and quick snippets of Laibachian orchestra to provide melody. Laibach previously covered the DAF song “Alle Gegen Alle” on their album “Nato.” This is a very catchy song, but its hard to keep from laughing with Mina singing “LIVER! LIVER! LIVER! We get to take your liver!” Despite this, Mina shows that she is a very strong singer. Here, she is stepping away from the less-aggressive singing that characterized her work on “Volk.” This is probably the most fun song I’ve ever heard from Laibach, and this is probably the first time anybody has ever described Laibach as making “fun” music. This is one of the better songs on the album, and has an aggressive feel that dominated “WAT” but was absent on “Volk.”
This song has a very distinctly Kraftwerk-style beat, and feels like it could have come off of WAT. The choral parts aren’t quite as thick and dominating as on WAT, but nevertheless it is stylistically very similar. Its good-old hard industrial, and in that respect it is a very “satisfying” song. Its very ominous and foreboding, but the lyrics seem weak compared to the actual music.
5. “We Are Millions And Millions Are One”
This is an interesting song. It seems to switch between up-tempo light pop, and slightly melancholic pop, with slightly creepy interludes, and the creepy sound effects that are characteristic of this album and “Volk,” along with what sounds kind of like a cheap children’s Casio keyboard. This is actually a very good song—its very unique, and very different from anything else that Laibach has done, although it feels rushed and probably could have been longer. Milan’s vocals don’t seem to work here—they just seem out of place. If Mina had been the sole singer here, this song would have been outstanding. The tone of her voice and her singing style is much better suited for this type of music. Again, here we see Mina really starting to distinguish herself as a singer. She has a good future. Laibach could have a really big hit if they did an album entirely in this style.
This is down-tempo, and has a more ominous sound in contrast to the song immediately preceeding it. Again, more creepy sound effects, with Milan doing some creepy whispering. This sounds like something straight off “Volk.” A good song, but nothing special. It seems like it was a leftover from the recording session for “Volk.”
7. “Walk With Me”
Another down-tempo song, but this one is dominated by an extremely annoying and loud keyboard sound that really detracts from what would otherwise be a pretty decent dark and ominous pop song. That sound is just truly awful, and gets in the way of the rest of the instrumentation and vocals, which seem well-done. This is really a shame.
This is another song that was heavily influenced by DAF—a simple, up-tempo beat but with a much higher quality production and Laibach’s slick sound effects, and also a little more complicated than your typical DAF song. This is dark and aggressive. This is probably my favorite track on the album. Its quite a bit harder and much less melodic than anything else on “Spectre,” and Mina really shines here as a singer. Her singing is more creative than anything I’ve heard her do on “Volk.” When she is allowed to let loose, Mina really shows that she can carry Laibach with strength and confidence every bit as much as Milan. This track would be improved if Mina was the only vocalist. Even though this is a track that Laibach fans would normally expect to be perfectly suited for Milan, Mina excels here. This song is far too short; it should have been much longer.
9. “Resistance Is Futile”
This one has a stuttering beat, and starts out with the sound of children laughing. It is reminiscent of their song “Resist or Breed,” which was the vinyl-only bonus track from WAT. Parts of this song sound a lot like the theme to Beverly Hills Cop (I’m not kidding, go listen to it!). It switches back and forth between hard industrial like what you hear on “Resist or Breed,” and melodic interludes with the sound of children, and includes a long creepy outro. This song is about Laibach, and from what I can gather from the lyrics it seems like there is an obvious comparison to the Borg for all you Star Trek nerds out there.
This starts out with a quiet, creepy background sound repeating underneath some soft, sensitive piano music. Mina gently and sweetly sings over it, and eventually Milan comes in with his trademark deep scary growling. If it weren’t for the occasional harsh sound effect and Milan’s scary vocals breaking in, this would perfectly fit in on any soft rock or adult contemporary radio station, right between Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand. Its ok, but not that interesting, and in fact its kind of forgettable.
So, what’s the verdict? This album definitely has some very strong points, but despite that it is somewhat hit-or-miss. Laibach made a very good decision in allowing Mina Spiler to take a more active and creative role in the vocals. She proves that she is a very important part of Laibach, and she will probably take a larger role in the future. The production quality is extremely high, with massive layers of synths, keyboards, sound effects, and orchestration. Style-wise, this generally follows in the same vein as “Volk,” which was itself a major break with the past, with “WAT” being the last full-blown representation of their old style. Its something old, something new. Overall, I think this was a better effort than “Volk,” and it will probably grow on me with time.