Steamhammer / Oblivion / SPV
Steel, hard work, muscle strength, sweat, machines … but also structural change, unemployment, dislocation, xenophobia and anxiety about the future: powerful words that DIE KRUPPS have always used and filled with content, that they attach visions to, that they transform into a solid base for their music – their very own, unique sound that has consistently evolved over the past four decades and that continues to be unmistakeable. DIE KRUPPS are a phenomenon on the German music scene, true pioneers who are at home not only in a variety of sonic universes, they have also set the course for previously unheard sounds and have been and continue to be significantly responsible for the development of a number of new genres.
Visions of bygone days
DIE KRUPPS mastermind Jürgen Engler has been an intrepid and at the same time visionary trailblazer since the late 1970s: As a member of the flourishing Düsseldorf art scene, he founded the band MALE and brought punk music to Germany in the process. Düsseldorf and its legendary club, Ratinger Hof, became the centre of music innovation in Germany, spawning lots of bands and popular music styles, among them Neue Deutsche Welle. 1980 saw Engler join forces with Ralf Dörper, among others. DIE KRUPPS were born, “Stahlwerksinfonie” was released and the single “Wahre Arbeit, wahrer Lohn” has come to be considered a prototype of the electronic body music (EBM) genre. Its trademarks: slogan-like lyrics, sequencer bass, metallic beats. That first chapter in the band history came to an end in the mid-1980s. Dörper and PROPAGANDA celebrated international success, Engler explored the realm of heavy metal.
The reunion followed in 1989, starting all over again with a remake of the first single, in which British band NITZER EBB participated. “The Machineries Of Joy” and the subsequent “Germaniac” were hits and became important EBM reference pieces. Tough electronic sounds and increasingly cutting metal riffs marked the sound of DIE KRUPPS during the 1990s. Jürgen Engler went on to establish crossover music (also electro metal, industrial rock) in Germany with “The Dawning Of Doom” and “To The Hilt”.
DIE KRUPPS have so far operated between these different poles – EBM/industrial and grooving metal – although their focus may have shifted. While “The Machinists Of Joy” (2013) emphasised the electronic element and their most recent album “Metal Machine Music” (2015) featured brutal metal sounds, “Vision 2020 Vision” is a concentrate of the band’s ground-breaking period between 1992 and 1997, the ultimate, perfect amalgamation of two musical worlds which DIE KRUPPS brought together back then. Jürgen Engler has wiped the dust off lots of old analogue synthesizers that sound raw and powerful, underpin guitarist Marcel Zürcher’s fierce thrash riffs and make the current KRUPPS sound more driving and dynamic than ever before.
Haunting verses, catchy hook lines, distinctive breaks, strutting basslines, captivating chorus parts – Engler has written some of his best songs ever for “Vision 2020 Vision”, supported by co-songwriter Dörper’s sharp-tongued and analytical lyrics. Rarely have DIE KRUPPS been as catchy as on “Trigger Warning”, “DestiNation Doomsday” and “Alllies”, more dynamic than on “Welcome To The Blackout”, “Extinction Time” and “Fuck You” or vocally more accomplished than on “Wolfen (Her Pack)” and the Genesis cover “The Carpet Crawlers” from the Peter Gabriel era. The master himself announced in an interview in the 1980s that he had been influenced by DIE KRUPPS’s “Stahlwerksinfonie” during the production of his “Security” album. Now DIE KRUPPS pay the compliment back with their impressive version of that classic!
“Vision 2020 Vision” is a concept album: music, artwork and lyrics are inextricably linked, they fuel and cross-fertilise each other. The world of Engler and Dörper is monochromatic and grim, but the imminent world they see through their lens, ought to, and indeed must, frighten you. In all this, DIE KRUPPS’s themes are as topical and relevant as ever: “Extinction Time” and “Vision 2020 Vision” describe our world on the edge of the abyss. Chaos and violence rule the streets, governments are powerless. The great flood will come, wash everything away and leave nothing but darkness. “Alllies” and “Fuck You” are directed overseas, where egotism, borders and ruthlessness are dictated from the very top while Europe looks on passively, turning into a compliant minion. “Human” is a reckoning with the whole human race which has been regressing for several decades. Civilisations increasingly turn into hordes of wild, murderous barbarians.
The title song puts in a nutshell where this development is bound to take us: “Violence will soon explode, frustration reaches overload, revolution is imminent, we’re in the year of discontent” (quote: “Vision 2020 Vision”). What remains is the hope that Jürgen Engler will be proved wrong in this instance.
Official Video Clips: Vision 2020 Vision +++ Welcome To The Blackout
1. Vision 2020 Vision
2. Welcome to the Blackout
3. Trigger Warning
4. Wolfen (Her Pack)
5. Extinction Time
6. Carpet Crawlers
9. DestiNation Doomsday
11. Fuck You
12. Active Shooter Situation