Laibach

Opus Dei

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Having gained a fair amount of underground attention throughout Europe, particularly in both Germany and England, Laibach made its first attempt at crossing over -- in a way -- with Opus Dei. An alliance with Mute records led to Rico Conning handling the production, while the group decided to spell out the connections between mega-arena rock & roll and fascist spectacle all the more directly. Two brilliant singles were the end result, the first being "Geburt Einer Nation," a German-language cover of Queen's then-recent smash hit "One Vision," transformed into a Wagner-ian stompalong that remained as catchy as the original but with far more disturbing overtones. Hearing guttural voices talking about "one world, one people" over stomping drums and dramatic horns makes for pure Big Brother nightmares -- undoubtedly the point. Arguably even more fascinating was "Life Is Life," a hippie-ish song by the German group Opus that was reworked by Laibach into two different versions -- the German-language "Leben Heisst Leben" and the English "Opus Dei." Both are amazing, dramatic, and, thanks to some soft keyboards, even beautiful -- imagining a strutting, face-to-the-sun group of party members sweeping over the globe with these as accompaniment takes no effort at all. The dumbass metal soloing on the German-language version is especially hilarious. The other tracks on Opus Dei are a mixed but worthy bunch, showing the group trashing stylistic boundaries with more classical/hard rock/martial/dancefloor combinations. The results can be weirdly sweet like the start of "F.I.A.T." or explosive like "Leben-Tod" or the quick, nervous bombast of "Trans-National," but they're all good in their own ways. The CD includes four selections from Baptism as a bonus, that particular recording having not yet been released at the time of Opus Dei's appearance.

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