Rare indeed is the day that Cleopatra Records releases a remix collection of material from a band still in existence that didn't mind having it done, but there's a first time for everything. Rings of Steel is actually something of an all-over-the-place compilation, drawing on tracks from I, Die Krupps II: The Final Option, and The Final Remixes. As such, it's a useful sampler of the German act's early '90s material, or at least its original songs. The fact still remains that the group's amusing romp through Metallica songs remains its best effort to date, though, so Rings of Steel is mostly notable for who worked on the album rather than the songs in and of themselves. In a perfectly generic way, Die Krupps is a crossover band between industrial and metal, neither as distinct or inventive as obvious forebears and contemporaries like KMFDM, Ministry, and Nine Inch Nails, nor as wired and frenetic as late '90s young pups such as Rammstein and Powerman 5000. Rasped, roared vocals, big ol' guitar riffs, synth bass stabs, drum loops and samples, lyrics about destruction and energy, and so forth -- if one likes this kind of thing, one won't mind the original songs, but it's all been heard before. So concentrate on the remixes instead, some of which are successful, some are not. Regular Nine Inch Nails associate Charlie Clouser takes "Language of Reality," introduces a weird, shuddering beat, clips the guitars down, and makes it a more intriguing effort as a result. The Sisters of Mercy's Andrew Eldritch retools "Fatherland" into a trancey dance effort with just enough aggro for bite, while KMFDM's Sascha makes "Iron Man" sound like, well, a good KMFDM number with a different vocalist, and Einsturzende Neubaten's F. M. Einheit turns "New Temptation" into a nervous, wiry electronic number. One odd bonus comes with the liner notes, namely a complete and thorough biography.
Rings of Steel Review
by Ned Raggett