Blitzkrieg Baby is one of the many projects of Norwegian musician Kim Sølve, who is also known for his excellent work as a graphic designer in collaboration with his partner, Trine. In fact, if you’ve purchased any significant metal, experimental, or exceptionally weird music coming from the kingdom of the midnight sun in the last few years, there is a good chance that you’ve seen and appreciated Trine + Kim‘s work (including designs for Darkthrone, Ulver, Shining, and literally dozens of others).
Cannibal Commando is Blitzkrieg Baby’s third release and the second EP to be issued on the lovely Swedish label Beläten—Thomas Martin Ekelund of Trepaneringsritualen‘s in-house imprint—in the span of three years. This tape fits perfectly into Beläten’s modus operandi and aesthetic: it’s an absolutely lethal mix of old-school industrial, dark ambient, pop, noise, nihilism, and sulfurous irony.
From the very beginning, I was struck by the crisp, clean quality of the production on Cannibal Commando. Sølve clearly wanted to make this EP as clear and pop-oriented as he could and, somewhat incredibly, he pulled it off. As soon as the title track kicks in, echoes of the most accessible output of Coil come to mind, perhaps even with a hint of classic Foetus. The programmed drums are slow, simple, incessant, and strong, while the few layers of synth are functional and entertaining. Everything is stripped to the bare minimum and exploited to its maximum; nothing is out-of-place. The whispered vocals, which churn out bleak and gory details, are the cherry on the top of this industrial pie.
It’s impossible not to nod to the rhythm and immediately memorise the amazing chorus. It’s so ridiculously catchy that it probably became the most unexpected and persistent earworm to infect my wife and I over the last few months. This title track is absolutely the climax of the pop-music edge that lingers on the EP. I didn’t even think that I enjoyed this sort of music anymore—not this much, at least.
The influence of old-school industrial is undeniable, however; so much so, in fact, that some moments inexplicably remind me of the penultimate incarnations of Throbbing Gristle (I’m thinking of the mid-2000s, TG Now era here), both because of the Genesis P-Orridge-style vocal delivery and for the particularly soft, soothing, yet abrasive grain of the sounds. It’s almost as if Cannibal Commando is trying to continuously, sadistically tweak and pinch the nipples of all industrial fans, taking various hints and mangling them into the most pleasurable and, oddly enough, easily digestible pulp possible.
The vocals on ‘Spit’ are unnervingly reminiscent of the late John Balance, for example, and Sølve’s mention of a ‘slow death’ could not help but warm my heart with memories of the Leather Nun‘s hit. I didn’t really see this coming, but the metal clashing of ‘Cut. Slash. Maim. Kill.’ reminded me of the legendary Russian/Latvian industrial-junk band ZGA! I can’t really ask for more. In fact, Cannibal Commando is permeated by a sensation of fuzzy warmth, even if all the unsettling synths and violent lyrics would seem to suggest otherwise. Maybe it’s just me, but the familiarity and overall accessibility of the array of sounds Blitzkrieg Baby uses here just feels nice. Even the more aggressive bits of the tape are quite controlled. The distorted drums and the rhythmic metal percussion are always restrained and eardrum-friendly, and I love it. Who would have thought that I’d ever praise self-control in the use of distortion? Maybe I’m getting old and soft.
Cannibal Commando is fresh, intelligently put together, humorous, and highly enjoyable for pretty much anybody. Most of all, it makes you hungry for more. If you like Throbbing Gristle, Coil, Foetus, Laibach, Lustmord, and all that kind of good stuff, just go ahead and buy a copy. You will not be disappointed. It could easily work as gateway drug for people who are unaware of the post-industrial scene as well.
In fact, I like to imagine that by 2017, enough people will have discovered industrial music through Blitzkrieg Baby that they’ll be singing to Cannibal Commando with a smile on their face while stabbing friends and drinking pumpkin spice lattes in a bloody circle-jerk at Starbucks.
A1) Cannibal Commando
A2) There Will Be Casualties
A3) This Is Where Empathy Comes to Die
A5) Cut. Slash. Maim. Kill.