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Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Young Gods, "L'Eau Rouge"

The Young Gods
"L'Eau Rouge"
Play It Again Sam (1989)

1001 Recordings You Must Hear Before You Die

There are a handful of bands that get all of the attention whenever the subject of industrial music is brought up. The Young Gods is not one of them, which is unfortunate. If I had to come up with one band that could single-handedly embody every phase of industrial music, this Swiss act would be it. "L'Eau Rouge" was released in 1989, as good a time as any to both borrow qualities from pioneering bands of the genre, and to influence the bands to come.

The common point of reference that listeners look to when they listen to industrial is Nine Inch Nails, a band light years ahead of the second best-selling industrial group. "L'Eau Rouge" came out one month before NIN's debut album, so the two groups both reflect the post-industrial trends emerging at the time. Where NIN added textures of operating heavy machinery in its music, The Young Gods feature frequent loops of string sections (both melodic and dissonant), and even a couple of accordion sections (see "Le Fille de La Mort," which opens in 3/4 waltz form).

Two bands that are better starting points for understanding The Young Gods are KMFDM and Ministry. KMFDM is the most popular of the industrial bands that came out of Germany (the world "headquarters" for the genre). It makes sense that a band like the Gods, from Switzerland, were into groups like KMFDM. The Gods' tendency towards bass-synth grooves (such as in single "L'Amourir") reflects the German influence. When the group isn't adding string segments, they can rock out in full thrash-industrial style (see "Longue Route") just like Ministry.

The influence that the band takes is almost equal to the influence it makes. Many associated David Bowie's industrial attempt "Outside" as a result of NIN's influence, but Bowie himself said that he was inspired by The Young Gods. Vocalist Franz Treichler's deep, growling delivery undoubtedly influenced vocalist Till Lindemann of German industrial-metal group Rammstein. It's interesting to consider The Young Gods' lyrics. Although spoken in French, generally considered one of the smoothest languages in the world, the words almost sound like German when sang by Treichler thanks to his gruff delivery.

The good news about The Young Gods and its similarities to a number of other industrial acts is that there is something for everyone. If you like the heavy dance rhythms of KMFDM, there's something for you. If you prefer to bang your head, there's something for you. And, yes, if you like Nine Inch Nails, there's something for you.

INTERESTING FACT: The Young Gods have either the best or worst band logo ever, depending on how you take it. It's simply three stick figures.

L'amourir by The Young Gods on Grooveshark

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