Finding £40 on the floor really does lift the spirits. It’s a feeling of elated otherness – an unparalleled level of complete luck and, well, that’s enough cash to get you (slightly) tipsy at a London gig. Your reviewer has stumbled upon £40 on the way to Koko tonight; can Combichrist further improve this state of euphoria, or will they pale in comparison?
Once an overly cinematic intro track blares from the PA system for ten minutes – come on guys, you’re not Wolves In The Throne Room – that 40 quid is but a faded memory. Andy LaPlegua and his morbid men march on stage to the spasmodic industrial racket of We Were Made To Love You, exuding a noise so cripplingly caustic that a bottle of Jack and week-old piss seems more appealing.
This band is just so tight; LaPlegua’s hired guns belch through gang vocals, bash out meaty riffs and generally galvanise the pit into what is essentially an aerobics lesson. Even tub-thumper Joe Letz keeps his dicking about to a minimum – drumsticks are tossed willy-nilly every other beat and half his kit is toppled over at the end of every song, much to the chagrin of the poor tech guy.
Undoubtedly, Combichrist is LaPlegua’s baby and it shows. He cuts through the stage with near indescribable enthusiasm, almost like Keith Flint. On a rodeo bull. In a graveyard. On steroids. The band’s red-blooded masculinity channels through its frontman and is expelled into the crowd, inciting formidable vertical movement from band and audience alike.
The crunching, guitar-heavy industrial metal on display this evening is just first-class. Tunes like Electrohead, Never Surrender and Get Your Body Beat are chest-thumping, beer-chugging anthems that are unrivalled by the genre’s contemporary acts while latest album, this year’s We Love You, provides Combichrist with their Wish; their Dragula or their Just One Fix. As soon as Maggots At The Party kicks in and LaPlegua unleashes that demonic Al Jourgensenism of a verse, the dancefloor dissipates into dust once more and we’re reminded why Combichrist are the best in the game. We even get a delicate ballad in the form of Johnny Cash-inspired The Evil In Me. It’s a beautiful moment, and one that is soon shat upon as the charmingly titled Fuck That Shit brings this nigh-on perfect gig to a close.
It’s sad to acknowledge, but most younger metalheads aren’t immediately drawn to industrial metal. They yawn at the sight of Rob Zombie yapping out of time at Download or Motionless In White just, well, being Motionless In White. Combichrist can change this. They take the tropes of the genre popularised by Ministry, White Zombie and the like and warp it to their own twisted fancy – much like Crossfaith have done with dance music. Whereas Motionless In White are the pristine, freshly-waxed arse of industrial metal, Combichrist are the gnarled turd coiling from within. Okay, they’re not going to get kids listening to Front Line Assembly and Nitzer Ebb straight away, but Combichrist exist as their own entity.
So, that £40. It’s good… but it’s not quite Combichrist.