Wumpscut has been called many things - aggrotech, hellektro, terror EBM and many other awful genre portmanteaus. If you are new to the band, it would be easiest to say that what they - they being German DJ Rudy Ratzinger - create is electronic music designed to scare. Wumpscut first achieved popularity with "Soylent Green," now a much played club-classic. Since then Ratzinger has essentially set the bar for all modern industrial bands to step up to, welding together abrasive beats, near-orchestral sounds and distorted rasping vocals that would make Nivek Ogre of the seminal Skinny Puppy proud.
Ratzinger's latest effort is Body Census and I'm sad to say that things don't start off on the best possible footing. "The Beast Sleeps Within You" and "Remember One Thing" are nothing special, lacking the biting vitriolic aggression that makes Wumpscut successful. "We Believe, We Believe" is fairly straightforward EBM fare, and its cleaner sound and beat should go down well on darkened dance-floors. With a good hook, "We Believe" is one of the albums stronger moments. After failing to impress on the maxi-single Goth Census, "You are Goth" manages to redeem itself with its harsh, mechanical beats - amusing, when the lyrics seem to be an attack on emotionless, antisocial 'goths.' Given many of the track titles on this album ("You are Goth" and "Homo Gotikus Industrialis" in particular) it should be no surprise that "Dear Ghoul" opens with a gothic harpsichord riff and wouldn't sound out of place echoing through the halls of some Transylvanian chÃÂ¢teau.
Following the grandeur of the previous track, "Hide and Seek" is a little lukewarm. Stripped of Ratzingers vocals, with snippets of samples only appearing after half of the song is over, "Hide and Seek" feels unfortunately empty - it's minimal beat and plodding tempo not strong enough to hold interest. "Homo Gotikus Industrialis" is similarly slow, in spite of a promising chunky bass intro. Things begin to pick up again with "Adonai, My Lord", which is my favorite track by far, improved only by the Yendri club-mix found on the Goth Census single. There is something ridiculously catchy about "Adonai, My Lord" - the same something that made Wreath of Barbs' "Christfuck" so appealing.
"The Fall" sounds as if it could have been something great, with a few changes here and there. Both the music and the vocals, here female, are excellent in themselves but together sound mismatched. When it comes down to it, it feels a lot of Body Census' failings stem from this. Like some lumbering monster of Frankenstein, Body Census - its limbs salvaged from past glories and lashed unnaturally together - struggles to come to terms with what it is, never truly achieving greatness. For all there are moments of quality, Ratzinger is capable of better.
Body Census is available through Metropolis mail order in digipak, jewel case and limited edition box set format, with snippets of each track up on both the label and bands websites. For more electro-industrial of a similar ilk check out the equally sample-heavy Velvet Acid Christ - particularly Fun With Knives and Church of Acid - or Suicide Commando's Mindstrip.
5.8 / 10
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