Although their last new material as Nitzer Ebb was 15 years earlier, Douglas McCarthy and Bon Harris were relatively busy leading up to the release of Industrial Complex (definitely call it a comeback). Throughout the 2000s, McCarthy collaborated with producer Terence Fixmer on two LPs, while Harris became an L.A. studio head, working with everyone from Bush to OK Go (and helping out on more than his fair share of soundtracks). Meanwhile, Nitzer Ebb's brand of EBM -- which neatly balanced Depeche Mode's pop structures and emotional intensity with harder industrial's production expertise -- was increasingly being hailed as an influence on techno artists, most prominently Richie Hawtin. Industrial Complex returns the duo to where they were just before 1995's sonic detour, Big Hit (which overplayed guitar work and criminally overlooked the group's rhythmic skills). Yes, it's slightly dirtier than their classic '80s material, but it still employs the hardest, harshest percussion to drive these productions, while McCarthy's overloaded vocals touch the same raw nerves as before. Still, while McCarthy is just as aggressive as ever, he seems to have lost the fire he displayed on earlier classics like "Getting Closer" and "Come Alive." And while the production is as fiery and hard-hitting as ever -- thanks in part to additional help from veterans Flood and Jagz Kooner -- Industrial Complex doesn't have the hooks or the innovation that Showtime or Belief evinced. Fans will be thrilled, and even those who don't know the classic recordings will be led on by this competent display, but too often, Industrial Complex is an album referencing past triumphs rather than creating new ones.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush