CD Review

Testify - "Crack the Mind"

By Dan Century

Crack the MindJust think of all the incredible music Germany has given the world over the years: Wagner, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Faust, Can, Heino, and of course relatively recent bands like Einstnrzend Neubauten, Rammstein and KMFDM. Take a moment to just to marvel at this rich musical legacy. Testify, a newcomer to the scene, is ready to prove that Germany makes more than just great beer and cars - they also make great music.

Testify is a metal band, the same way Ministry and Rammstien are metal bands. Overwhelming thrash guitars, brutal percussion and guttural vocals adds up to metal, regardless of the fact that it is "programmed" and "sampled," orchestrated by sequencers or cut, pasted and Acid Looped. Testify should be marketed to the metal scene despite the fact that their roots are firmly planted in electro-pop. If metal fans are willing to accept "rap-metal"* they should be willing to forgive the drum machines, keyboard effects and Wizard of OZ Munchkin samples.**

Crack the Mind is a remix album, featuring remixes by fellow "drum machine metal" dudes Die Krupps and Die Warsaw - a couple of nice guys that have been around forever, but never quite made it big. One of my favorite concerts ever was a Die Warsaw gig, but I doubt you care, so I'll spare the details... oh, OK, you twisted my arm. It was a Nine Inch Nails/Die Warsaw concert at a club called Shitty Garbage in Trenton, New Jersey. I was going totally apeshit while Die Warsaw was on stage (especially after a really cute female offered me flesh in exchange for my Acid Horse T-shirt). The singer from Die Warsaw asked me how may drugs I was on . I answered "7," a number which pleased the crowd. Now the truth is I was sober, but I didn't want to let the band and the crowd down. Later that night during the NIN set I was forcibly removed from the club for punching a bouncer in the head. He was strangling a very small woman, and I objected to his actions with my fist. I never had the opportunity to swap the shirt.

Testify's weak points...
The language barrier: Testify's singer, as far as I noticed, vocalizes 99.9% in English, despite the fact that he's German. Rammstein sings in German and they sound awesome. How about it Testify? Sometimes it's best if you can't understand what the singer is saying. Despite the singers raw, growled vocals every awkward moment shines through, like this cryptic gem: "the morbid lord called humiliation rose from the throne one day the primal order exploitation had ceased to make him gay so what?" Or this nugget: "my tasty earwax drops into your mouth." What the fuck? Either the singer's concepts don't translate well into English or the concepts are so banal they just don't mesh well with the music. It's metal for Lemmy's sake! Let's hear some sex and drugs lyrics, or if they must, social commentary, but most importantly, in German!

Testify's strong points...
This is some of the best studio produced metal you're likely to hear. They take full advantage of the full audio spectrum from the programmed cymbals and growled vocals to floor shaking bass and thrash guitar. The true test of a recording is whether it sounds great through a good stereo system.*** Testify passes the test. All the thrash metal cliches you're likely to crave are here: hooks, riffs, power chords, over-the-top drums, dirty beast man vocals. New Jersey will love this album.

My advice: if you love brutal, aggressive "Industrial-metal" in the vein of Rammstein, Die Krupps and Psalm 69 era Ministry, you'll probably enjoy Testify. Their web site has the whole album on-line so decide for yourself. If you're a fan of bands like NIN and KMFDM that are more electronics than metal, you might think twice before checking out this disk. Go to the Van Richter web site and check it out: http://vr.dv8.net/.

* Basically a really bad idea dreamed up by flabby-ass record company executives. We really can't blame Anthrax. Rap-metal is like "Metal, by Tommy Hilfiger."
** Oh yes, I think I'm going to throw up.
*** With the growing popularity of "downloadable music," which is mostly listened to through feeble headphones, quality, full frequency music may become a thing of the past.

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