Nitzer Ebb: Industrial Complex

RIYL: Depeche Mode, Combichrist, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult

Nitzer Ebb’s last album was Big Hit, which came out in 1995. Since then the group both broke up and got back together with hardly anyone noticing. It makes sense; they weren’t exactly superstars. Even at the peak of their popularity with tracks like “Join in the Chant” and “Fun to Be Had,” they were also-rans in the industrial/electronic scenes. They never got the success that groups like Depeche Mode enjoyed, and they never enjoyed the cult success of more abrasive and harder-sounding groups like Ministry and Skinny Puppy. So the fact that we’re even talking about Nitzer Ebb in 2010 is pretty amazing, and the fact that were talking about a great new record by Nitzer Ebb in 2010 is freaking mindblowing.


Seriously, where the hell did this come from? This is one of Nitzer Ebb’s best records to date. While it can’t top their earlier records in terms of originality and innovation, it can certainly hold its own against them when it comes quality. In fact, some of the tracks on Industrial Complex, such as the killer opener “Promises,” and the eerie ballad “Going Away from Me,” might be some of the best tracks the group has ever released.

Many of the best tracks on Industrial Complex owe themselves to the suddenly powerful vocals of Douglas McCarthy, who spent much of the ’80s and ’90s growling and yelling through the band’s best tracks. Here, he’s actually singing, and singing damn well at that. But fans of the ridiculous shouting matches of Nitzer Ebb old like “Join in the Chant” shouldn’t be too worried; McCarthy still howls his head off a couple times on Industrial Complex, like on “Payroll,” a sick and sleazy track that combines not-too-subtle metaphors about sucking with aggressive dance beats and a hard house sound ripe for remixing.

If you’ve been eagerly awaiting more Nitzer Ebb since their breakup in the ’90s, then your wait was well worth it with Industrial Complex. And if you’ve never heard the group before, then this is a shockingly great jumping-on point. (Artists’ Addiction Records 2010)

Click here for a free download of Nitzer Ebb’s “Promises”
Nitzer Ebb MySpace page


Steal This Song: Nitzer Ebb, “Promises”

This is one of those moments where we cannot help but think that everything is connected. Earlier this year we got our hands on Selected, a compilation of songs from onetime Depeche Mode sonic architect Alan Wilder’s new band Recoil, and on it is a little tune called “Faith Healer,” featuring vocals from Nitzer Ebb’s Douglas McCarthy. It’s a great tune, and McCarthy turns in a rather impressive vocal performance for a guy who’s spent most of his career yelling. Even better, the release of this album allowed us to score an interview with Wilder (huge, huge thrill), where Wilder delivered perhaps the funniest, most understated comment about Nitzer Ebb that one could possibly dream up: “I guess Nitzer Ebb are lacking a lot of melodic content, you could say.”

Even stranger, when we spoke with Fratellis lead singer Jon Fratelli earlier in the year and asked him who he considered to be the most unheralded artist from his native Scotland, he nominated the Sensational Alex Harvey Band…the guy who wrote “Faith Healer.” Like we said, everything’s connected.


Anyway, Wilder mentioned that he had recently remixed a Nitzer Ebb track – one with melodic content, we’re assuming – and it hadn’t even occurred to us that the band hadn’t made a record in 15 years, so him mixing Nitzer Ebb was kind of a big deal. The record is now here (Industrial Complex, due out November 9), and the first song, “Promises,” will produce involuntary goosebumps in anyone who trolled the alt-rock clubs when That Total Age was first released. The keyboard track immediately brings “Murderous” to mind but, perhaps remembering how well the “Faith Healer” cover worked, McCarthy opts for actual singing instead of his trademark yelling, and in the process fixes the one thing that ultimately kept us from listening to the band for more than 10 minutes in a row. Oh man, is this a sweet surprise.

Click to download Nitzer Ebb – Promises