Red Sleeve Music
Released: September 13th, 2016
A little background first
I happily stumbled upon Kidneythieves around 2002 when “ZeroSpace” ended up in my years. I don’t remember the source that it came from (example: radio, running through “related artists” song samples, etc), but it instantly grabbed my ear and demanded a listen. I’ve said in this blog many times that I’m not a big fan of labels/genres, etc. I suppose at some point a little bit of label descriptions are fair so long as their not too “hung up” on. Regardless, “ZeroSpace” came on and was quickly intrigued by a female vocalist leading quite hard American industrial music. Vocalist Free Dominguez, then, was a very welcomed gritty, “not-so-ladylike” voice who drew me in as the song opened up and rocked verses with a rap-rock style when it was still a somewhat fresh idea, let alone a female singing it. This was also an exciting time in heavier music as females were beginning to stand up and take the microphone in hard/heavy bands such as Maria Sjolholm of Drain STH, Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil, and Morgan Lander of Kittie , …among others. To me, what made Kidneythieves was to find out that they were a duo made up of Free Dominguez and multi-instramentalist Bruce Somers who has also worked with Orgy, Nine Inch Nails, 8mm, The Misfits, Marilyn Manson, and others. “Black Bullet”, also off the ZeroSpace album, caught me second and by then I was hooked on the band.
Six years has passed since the release of Kidneythieves’ fourth album, TryptOfantic and five years since their last release (the EP The Invisible Plan) and life had gotten busy so I hadn’t read up on them and thought the band was unfortunately over, not to downplay the music they left behind. Then late this summer, I caught a headline that they were releasing a new album titled “The Mend”. One word: “Elation”. It was released September 13th, 2016 and I grabbed it on an Amazon mp3 download because I didn’t want to wait. I still like to go for physical CD’s but that’s another topic.
The Mend is a very solid twelve song album giving you a taste of a lovely variety of genres and styles. Album opener “Fist Up” surely reminded older fans of the band’s debut album Trickster (1998), for me in particular: “S + M (A Love Song)”. The song certainly, intentionally or not, has the reminisce of the band Lords of Acid with its grittiness yet very dance oriented beat. Following this “get up” opener, is “Codependent Song” which again pulls in electronics similar to the band’s early days and could have been helped by Free Dominguez’s work with Conjure One’s Exilarch album, a project from former Front Line Assembly founder Rhys Fulber.
However, it was the third song, “Who You Are”, that really had me truly addicted. I listened to it in my car for at least two days straight…and was loving it. It could be that the vocals, the verses at least, are very similar in style to ZeroSpace. However, the song also doses out some powerful curiosity as it isn’t the “in your face” and confrontational atmosphere but a much more sexy and sensual aura that drew me in. The chorus, much like “Codependent Song” nicely exhibit Dominguez’s also quite gental vocal side as well. To me, this is a very precious contrast. The electronic sequencer’s arpeggio also gave me a twinge of 1980s era Depeche Mode. The joyful rejoice of analog synthesizers. Next, “In Love With A Machine” is something different entirely, even for Kidneythieves. Musically, the song is structured around very industrial rhythems and a low, soft electronic bassline. The chorus is beautiful and soft to which one could drift off into abstract thinking.
I won’t go completely “track-by-track” as the review tends to drag on. However, other standout songs for various reasons in my opinion include the industrial ballad(?) “The Solution Is In The Trees” and beat driven “Let Freedom Ring” that’s more than suitable as a road trip anthem. If asked to be very brief, I would state that Kidneythieves are not a band with a large following, oodles of marketing, or will likely be anywhere near a household name. I will state though that they are very unique and continue to stay true and make the music that they want to make and/or hear, tour very hard, and are likely happy with where they are in the musical world. Everyone has different musical tastes of course, but I would state that a new listener shouldn’t assume too quickly with this band. If you’re not latched onto The Mend and are more interested in start-to-finish harder music, certainly investigate the albums ZeroSpace and Trickster. Additionally, the band considered their EP “The Invisible Plan” to be some of their best material at the time of its release. TryptOfantic is also fantastic. In any case, this band should very much be at least respected for sticking to their hearts and for continuing to be true to who they are especially when mainstream media was manipulating and chewing up bands in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Kidneythieves were just to elusive for that and still sound very fresh.
Trickster – Album – 1998
ZeroSpace – Album – 2002
Live In Chicago – Live Album – 2002
Trickstereprocess – Misc. Songs, Alternate Versions, etc – 2003
Phi In The Sky – EP/Remixes – 2005
TryptOfantic – Album – 2010
The Invisible Plan – EP – 2011
The Mend – Album – 2016