Landing three years after PARADISE, KMFDM’s twenty-second album, HYËNA has been the subject of much anticipation for fans of the industrial/rock legends. Although a similar gap separated two of the band’s previous albums, Our Time Will Come and Hell Yeah, KMFDM’s absence felt more pronounced this time around as the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world and shuttered clubs and scuttled tours, including one that would have seen the band alongside fellow scene titans MINISTRY and Front Line Assembly. As the world emerges from the chaos, so too has KMFDM, and HYËNA is well worth the wait, delivering a more eclectic set of tracks than the band has composed in some time.
That’s not to say the record forgoes KMFDM’s signature Ultra Heavy Beat sound – songs such as “All 4 1” and “Liquor Fish & Cigarettes” deliver with their sloganeering, tight programming, catchy riffs, and rock solid songwriting that the band has on lock. But elsewhere, the album finds KMFDM further experimenting with its sound with some outstanding results. Chief among them is “Rock’N’Roll Monster,” a gob-stopping amalgamation of horns, tightly rapped verses by guest vocalist Ocelot, and a sample of the classic “Virus” that precedes a truly monstrous rock guitar riff on the chorus. Meanwhile, “All Wrong – But Alright” races along with a rapid fire beat that calls to mind drum & bass and a white hot guitar solo by Andee Blacksugar that sears through the speakers, with Sissy Misfit’s ominous Turkish accompaniment recalling some of the best moments of XTORT. “Deluded Desperate Dangerous & Dumb” is a tour through a crazed sanatorium of sound, featuring samples of mad scientist cackling and yodeling across a shuffling beat with Sascha’s lyrics taking a particular ex-president’s reality-denying followers to task over the events of January 6. The album’s pre-release single and title track “HYËNA” is another spectacular highlight with a hook reminiscent of The Sisters of Mercy’s “More,” an effortlessly infectious chorus, and yet more masterful guitar work by Blacksugar. Finally, “In Dub We Trust” is almost certainly the most polarizing song on the album as a dub rendition of “Trust” from NIHIL, with reggae vocals by Kumar Bent; however one feels about it stylistically, it’s a prime example of KMFDM’s conceptual continuity.
When all is said and done, HYËNA easily fits alongside Hell Yeah and PARADISE as a strong effort in KMFDM’s latest winning streak of records. 38 years on, KMFDM’s legacy and power remain intact and the band truly, as Käpt’n K proclaims, remain the masters of their destiny. All for one to the Ultra Heavy Beat!