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Album Review

By the time its third album was released, the Chicago-based electronic duo Die Warzau (Jim Marcus and Van Christie) had already released two albums (1989's Disco Rigido and 1991's Big Electric Metal Bass Face) on two record labels. After several years of inactivity (though the band did production work for Sister Machine Gun and KMFDM), Die Warzau finally resurfaced in 1995 with Engine; the album was released on the Chicago-based industrial-music label Wax Trax, and this new home fit Die Warzau like a silk glove. Engine is a major leap forward for Die Warzau, as it contains some of its most hard-hitting (and surprisingly pop-friendly) material. The album is diverse in sounds and styles, and the mixture of moods and musical approach shows astonishing artistic depth. Engine utilizes many of the ingredients of Die Warzau's first two albums, but the band has evolved considerably since its debut, utilizing a more apparent dance approach with each successive release. Atmospheric, electronic sound collages, squealing guitars, and minimalist lyrics are at the forefront on tracks like "Grounded" and "Muck." "Grounded" is particularly strong, combining Nine Inch Nails-style chanting in its chorus with rap-flavored verses. But the song is unusually catchy, showing off Die Warzau's expertise in crafting pop hooks without sacrificing the heavy approach. "Heroin A.D." is also a keeper, with its inventive mixture of sax, piano, and throbbing bass. Engine's best track is the haunting "All Good Girls." The tune's chilling lyric contrasts beautifully with its quiet, repetitive groove, making "All Good Girls" sound like some sort of demented lullaby. Die Warzau's mixture of musical styles on Engine can take a listener by surprise — track by track, it's difficult to predict what direction the band will take next. The song's subject matter is surprising in itself, revealing another side of a band that isn't shy about expressing its political views, but the straightforward, almost pop-friendly approach on "All Good Girls" makes much of Engine's genre-hopping seem excessive by comparison. Fortunately, Die Warzau possesses the sophistication and craftsmanship to make Engine a remarkably intelligent release in a genre not really known for its depth. Simply put, Engine is one of the greatest industrial albums of all time.


Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Chicago industrial duo Die Warzau purvey a guitar- and sample-heavy version of the form, with minimal lyrics. Van Christie (guitar, synth, programming, vocals) and Jim Marcus (percussion, vocals) debuted in 1988 with Disco Rigido, following that album with 1991's Big Electric Metal Bass Face. Die Warzau returned in 1995 with the album Engine, also working on remixes for Björk. A whole decade passed before the band was to appear again. The 2005 Die Warzau included Christie and Marcus and...
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Engine, Die Warzau
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