Ian Storck

Violence Solves Everything for Combichrist in Wisconsin

Music Scene Media
Apr 3, 2024
6 min read

Combichrist’s “Only Death Is Immortal Tour” brings a huge lineup of electronic and industrial metal to The Annex in Madison, Wisconsin. 

Local opener Biocarbon13 started things off with pulsating synths and heavy riffs, harkening back to an old school techno sound. They seemed to be having a great time dancing across the stage and playing for the crowd that was slowly filling in the dance floor early on a Friday night. They closed out their set by bringing in the singer of another Chicago electronic group, and performing a remix together. 

Treasvre was a standout act on the bill, mostly due to them being so different musically from the other groups. There were electronic elements, but they were more of an atmospheric rock group with an artsy vibe. Not surprisingly, as they hail from San Francisco, CA. The group did their best grabbing the audience’s attention as both singers and guitarists jumped the barricade at times, playing songs from the crowd. Singer & bassist Samantha Peña closed off the set with their track “Devils,” with an intense and emotional vocal display.

Halfway through the lineup, Dead Animal Assembly Plant took the stage, and things began to feel like the industrial electronic show that the tour had been touting. Aesthetically appearing like a post-apocalyptic, Mad Max horror show, the group ripped through some aggressive tracks that, in a classic punk fashion, threw criticism at the government and modern society. Standout track “Rise With Me” was one such song, focusing on condemnation of the media’s portrayal of violence and school shootings. Visually and musically exciting and entertaining, they had elements of electronic industrial, metal, rap rock, and moments that reminded me of early System of a Down and Marilyn Manson.

Oklahoma-based duo Esoterik switched things up with a pared down stage production, but a lively, synthpop sound. Singer Allison Eckfeldt danced across the stage for the entire set, while counterpart Brady Bledsoe operated the keys and programming, occasionally chiming in with a guitar riff or two. Following a heavy set, it was a nice reprieve, but the crowd took a bit of warming up to get into the lighter sound. Eckfeldt’s constant crowd interaction and high energy really helped get everyone more invested in the set. 

The final two songs leaned into the heavy side of the industrial spectrum, incorporating some crunchy metal riffs and harsher vocals that reminded me at times of Lucia Cifarelli of KMFDM. These tracks really excited the crowd, and Eckfeldt noted how it was a complete 180-degree turn from the first half of the set. I would have loved to hear a full set of the heavier tracks, especially placed between two other heavier artists.

The hard-hitting Cultus Black grabbed the penultimate slot of the night, and it definitely was the best placement for them. The group played in near pitch black, only silhouetted by flashes of neon colors. Most of the members were impossibly hard to see, wearing all black, with their torso skin painted black, and with cloth masks over their faces. Ghoul-like, they stalked the stage while the blacklight-painted vocalist took the stage for some ferociously metal tracks. Their heaviness rivaled Combichrist, and their stage presence only added to the wicked aesthetic of the show. This was when the crowd finally decided it was heavy enough to start bouncing around in the pit, getting as close to a mosh pit as you could in a diverse crowd of industrial fans, young and old.

After four hours and five opening bands, it was finally time for Combichrist to hit the stage but the crowd wasn’t tired at all. As soon as they kicked off the set with the newly-released “Planet Doom,” the crowd was jumping and shaking the barricade like mad. Their first release in two years, the Planet Doom EP included a collection of previous releases and singles since their last full album One Fire in 2019. The set included every track off of this new EP, and focused heavily on the last few albums, with a lot more of the industrial metal sound present than their initial “aggrotech” and EBM tracks.

Despite missing some of the classic tracks like “WTF is Wrong With You People?” and “This Shit Will Fuck You Up,” there was definitely still enough for a fan of the older Combichrist sound to enjoy, like “Blut Royale,” “Fuck that Shit,” and the classic “Get Your Body Beat.” Now back to a five-piece group for live shows, there’s so much energy on the stage, and it is impossible to stand still during a performance like this. The heavier metal tracks like “Heads Off” really got the crowd stirring up in the pit and throwing their bodies around. 

One of the last performances of the night was the latest single “Violence Solves Everything, Part II,” off of their upcoming album CMBCRST, due out in May. Despite incorporating a different sound since their release of the DMC soundtrack, a lot of the industrial elements still remain in their songs, and the cross-genre sound certainly works and has worked for many other artists in the same vein.

Whatever your tastes are when it comes to electronic, industrial or metal, there is going to be something for you on this tour.

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