A Tuesday evening saw us descend once more upon KK’s Steel Mill for the opening night of US Based Aggrotech/Industrial Metal Masters Combichrist and Swedish Dark Synth Pop sensations Priest UK Tour. With a Premier League Home Game taking place, parking around the venue was at a premium, so it was most definitely not a quiet midweek.
KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton – 25 April 2023
Words: Sophie James
Photography: John Inglis
Combichrist’s 20th Anniversary celebrations saw the core Scandinavian duo of Andy LaPlegua and long-time collaborator Elliott Berlin undertake ‘An Old School Electronic Set’ that was plain ferocious. The breakneck pace never let up and left you breathless at times, with the hard-core fans with them every step of the way.
The pulsing At The End Of It All got the party started. “20 Years we’ve been together this year, and we’re going to celebrate by playing the old sh*t. What you say we dance a little? Will you dance with me?” enquired Andy as he introduced Are You Connected.
Blut Royale hits you with the constancy of a machine gun. “Come hear the voices in my head. They say you wanna hurt me.” The band were finding their groove, and the audience got into the zone as the pounding euphoric techno anthem Electrohead gathered momentum.
The disturbing depiction of aggression that is Feed Your Anger follows. Its brooding musical undercurrent evokes visions of a nocturnal dystopia. “20 Years we’ve been doing this shit – Fuck That Shit.” A perfectly concise and appropriate introduction.
“Remember you’re dancing with me,” queued the perfunctory Get Your Body Beat, a soundtrack to pushing one’s limits, especially upon a frenzied dancefloor.
“We’re all here because we are connected to the music.” The connection between that statement and the lyrics of I Want Your Blood was very much open to interpretation.
The debasing Fuckmachine paradoxically refers to the overt acts of sexual domination but implies that the recipient gains satisfaction from the power exchange of the relationship. Its simple repeated lyric reinforces the sense of control of the dominant.
“This is family, we are connected, and for that, we are forever grateful,” appeared an ill-timed prelude to the machinations of Today I Woke To The Rain Of Blood and its protagonist, who has embarked on a killing spree. The lighting technician missed a trick by not bathing the stage in a rolling ocean of claret, or would that have been too predictable?
Those of us of a certain age cannot fail to recall those scenes from Full Metal Jacket as This Is My Rifle sounds off with the regularity of that infamous Drill Sergeant and was followed by Without Emotions, a lyrically bleak imagining of living in a state of no feeling.
The main set closed with a stimulating run through the infectious but galloping paranoia of They. Due to its more traditional musical refrain, it was probably my most enjoyable number of their set.
The synths kept on looping as the duo vacated the stage to return for the sole encore of the lyrically concise Like To Thank My Buddies. He explained that this was the first song he wrote but did not appear on the debut as he forgot about it. “Those were crazy days.”
Violent, aggressive and disturbing lyrics set to mercilessly pounding electronica pummelled casual attendees into submission yet sated the die-hards who left happy. I would be curious to know what Andy’s final Fitbit Step Count was as he incessantly paraded the length and breadth of the stage.
1. At the End of It All
2. Are You Connected
3. Blut Royale
5. Feed Your Anger
6. Fuck That Shit
7. Get Your Body Beat
8. I Want Your Blood
10. Today I Woke to the Rain of Blood
11. This Is My Rifle
12. Without Emotions
14. Like to Thank My Buddies