Despite its famously fascist sensibilities, subversive cover song work, and activism through guerilla art, Slovenia's Laibach still roots the majority of its recorded output in the two-dimensional, tinny grind of industrial music. Their latest LP is no different. English and German-language tracks shoulder each other for space inside the cramped compartments of WAT, yawning to allow rusty drops of standing water to fall into their mouths. Primitive drum machines pop and click behind Milan Fras' apocalyptic, determined growl, guttural voices and ethereal choirs drift in and out of the gloom, and vibrating synth lines slash between WAT's mechanistic beats, forming anti-melodies from torn shrapnel. "Achtung!," "Ende," and "Now You Will Pay" illustrate Laibach's point. "Barbarians are coming," Fras grumbles in the latter. "With knives in their pockets/And bombs in their hands/They'll burn down your cities," he continues, and the shrills of a choir then reiterate the point ("Barbarians! Barbarians!"). It's like the rampaging introduction of Conan the Barbarian, re-imagined as a black PVC nightmare of Teutonic justice. While there's certainly a legitimate agenda wrapped up in lyrics like "We don't seduce with melodies/We're not here to please you" and "From superstars/To the antichrist" (from the title track), it's difficult to piece it out while stepping over the flotsam of uninspired instrumentation that floats in the stagnant, ankle-deep water at the bottom of WAT. In a completely unlikely (and certainly unwanted) comparison, Laibach suggests Christian rock in the sense that both parties put message before music. Laibach has a long history of nonconformity and jarring social consciousness-raising. Unfortunately, its proto-industrial delivery system is hopelessly outdated. It could be that the music's indifference is purposeful, another way of promoting the band's guerilla entertainment. But just like bad performance art, suggesting that WAT is bad on purpose doesn't excuse its aesthetic shortsightedness.
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus
feat: Tomi Meglic