[sic] Magazine

Nitzer Ebb – Industrial Complex

15 years is a long time for anyone.

Nitzer Ebb were never a big deal then; always shimmering at the edges of the London Astoria, singles that appeared for two minutes on The Chart Show, t-shirts worn by those ‘In The Know’, a moderate selling band that were an edgier, harder, furious Depeche Mode . After 2006’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it tour, revitalised by a ‘Greatest Hits’ where no song ever troubled the top Forty, The Ebb seemed doomed to be a band that could make a brilliant new record, if they could be bothered.

And here it is. In fifteen years, not much has changed for the band. Many bands with long pasts and reputations, large or small, as innovators often find themselves trapped in a hole and endlessly trying to remain relevant but with no focus, nothing to say, and no real reason for continued existence apart from money and habit – or habits.

Not so here. ‘Industrial Complex’ is as good an album as anything The Ebb made in their first flush; as good as ‘Showtime’ or ‘Ebbhead’. This sentence will mean nothing to you unless you know what they sound like. The musical currency of the band is an abrasive Mode: luxurious, dense orchestration and timeless, sordid production crossbred with squelchy, influential distorted electronics and breathless, Ramones -paced rhythms. It sounds like being strapped to a rollercoaster in Imax. Bon Harris – last seen doing production work for Billy Corgan and Smashing Pumpkins – creates these busy, oppressive landscapes which are then shaped by Doug McCarthy’s distinctive vocals and melodies. The lessons of the past are kept here: aside from a fifteen year gap, ‘Industrial Complex’ is the next logical step in the bands artistic progression: ‘Once You Say’, ‘Down On Your Knees’, ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ – these are songs that should be ranked in the canon next to The Ebb’s best work. And, for the sly, the Alan Wilder version of ‘I Am Undone’, which opens the second disc, is, by any standard, the single most compelling and enthralling either Wilder or the Ebb have released in a decade.

A quantum leap from the last album – the confused ‘Big Hit’ – and in the rare apex of the bands finest echelon and realisation of their potential of ‘Ebbhead’, ‘Industrial Complex’ is near enough the best Nitzer Ebb album yet. Which, considering the band are long past their first flush of youth, is both a surprise and a stunning achievement. If you like the Ebb, get this. Have your doubts washed away.



For more from Mark, please visit The Final Word