Traditionalist hit parade

KRASCHAU: Ultrakonservativ Schlagerparade

Release year: 2022
Label: Gradual Hate Records

In comparison to the album I reviewed yesterday (African Imperial Wizard’s Nzinga Mbande), Kraschau has always been considerably less enigmatic and without all the layers of subterfuge. The martial industrial project has never tried to conceal its thematic focus on traditionalism, christianity, monarchism and old Europa.

It’s been quite a few years since we last heard from Kraschau: the previous album, Une Foi D’Acier, was released way back in 2016. And, in fact, Ultrakonservativ Schlagerparade is not a new album at all, but instead a compilation of remastered (and reworked?) old tracks on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of debut album Offenbarung.

The spectrum of martial industrial music is quite wide, from acts who’re best described as neoclassical with only token ties to anything “industrial” to bona fide noisy industrial with martial samples and thematics. Kraschau land somewhere in a rather pleasing middle ground between the two. Obviously, there are strong neoclassical elements here, with orchestral layers providing drama, pomp and bombast. But underneath, there’s often a strong and genuine industrial undercurrent of droning synths, crackling distortion and menacing low-end rumbles. As an example, check out A Kereszt Alatt (Помилуй мя грешнаго), which after a lengthy, subdued orchestral intro launches into full-blown, percussive noisy industrial.

In a sense, Ultrakonservativ Schlagerparade reminds one of what martial industrial is supposed to be all about: yes, it can be intricately arranged, nuanced neoclassical – but it should never forsake its industrial roots. The droning, buzzing, rumbling synths, the distorted, crackling noise, the ample use of speech samples in the best tradition of industrial and post-industrial music – these are very much at the core of martial industrial. And Kraschau not only reminds the listener of the form, but of the why: it adds a menacing, unsettling element to the majestic pomp of the neoclassical elements.

Despite being a compilation work, Ultrakonservativ Schlagerparade is – for the most part, at least – a very coherent piece of work. There is no dramatic stylistic breach between tracks culled from different releases; the uniform sound ensures continuity. The only exception is In Tenebras Exteriores, dominated as it is by church organ; that track sticks out like a sore thumb… and as tends to be with sore thumbs, not in a positive manner.

This one exception notwithstanding, Ultrakonservativ Schlagerparade is a highly accomplished piece of timeless martial industrial. It sounds good (blast this at loud volumes!), the tracks are engaging, and the atmospheres are powerful.

According to the label’s promo text, this might be the last Kraschau release. Whilst that would be a shame, at least Kraschau would exit the stage on a high note. Ultrakonservativ Schlagerparade is a powerful release, and one that completes the circle of Kraschau by compiling tracks from old releases, but presenting them in a new, more powerful form.

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