Laibach

Anthems

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AllMusic Review by

With their albums often based around one concept, this two-disc collection of "anthems" by Laibach is filled with tracks that are best in their original environment, but for a sampler, it's perfect and fans get a fantastic bonus. The two descriptors Laibach dislike the most -- Teutonic and Wagnerian -- best describe the Slovenian band for newcomers, but as Anthems displays, they're much more than that. Any band that does goose-stepping industrial versions of "Sympathy for the Devil," "Get Back," and Europe's "Final Countdown" could be written off as merely clever, but Laibach are nothing if not great destructors of pop who skillfully put the pieces back together for optimum absurdness. Laibach's rebuilding of pop borrows from show tunes, classical music, soundtracks, and practically everything else. Their new version of Nana Mouskouri's drippy and sentimental "Mama Leone" has sweet orchestration, with lead singer Milan Fras' stern growl delivering each line in an incongruous, maudlin style. Like their Beatles and Stones interpretations, it's ridiculous but extremely well crafted in arrangement and production. Just listen how the minimal synth band D.A.F.'s "Alle Gegen Alle" is turned into a chaotic symphony with a choir weaving in and out until it all explodes Carmina Burana style. If it's not symphonic splendor, it's stabbing techno (in their later years) or claustrophobic experimentalism (their early years), and you can't help but feel the chronological-going-backward style of the first disc could have mixed it up better. The second disc of remixes is the real treat for the faithful, rounding up hard to find 12"s and offering a fractured, aggressive, and even more menacing view of the band. Smart choices like Umek, Richie Hawtin, and Philipp Erb strip the music down to the bare essentials and Detroit the heck out of the tunes. Sounding unlike any of the other remixes but just as welcome, the mysteriously named Kraftbach rip apart "Geburt Einer Nation" with equal parts smirk and scowl and enough robotic bleeping to make you think a Ralf or Florian were involved. The remix disc is the first treasure, and the beautifully illustrated, "you still you don't get that they're antifascists?" booklet is the second. With their albums being so hard to pick apart, you can easily forgive the bumpy ride of disc one, and the compilers have made as good a track selection as any. For an impossible-to-compile band, Anthems is as good as it gets and justifies itself with desirable extras.

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