Danse Macabre, 2011

“This isn’t real industrial, this is techno kiddy crap!” If you’ve spent any time reading Youtube comments on scene bands (which I do a considerable amount of, foolish though it may be), you’ve almost certainly run across some variation of that statement, usually followed by a brief appeal to whatever bands were popular when the commenter first got into industrial. The music made by Eisenfunk seems almost tailor made to troll those individuals, the Bavarian trio is utterly and completely shameless with their dancefloor aspirations. It’s difficult to imagine concepts like “good taste” or “innovation” being considerations in their creative process. Their new disk Pentafunk is end-to-end pounding drums, simplistic basslines and stabby leads designed to be sandwiched into DJ sets or to soundtrack videos of cybergoths dancing on the aforementioned website.

Taken on those terms, it succeeds: there’s plenty of club fodder here, although none of it is perceptibly different from the lesser works of other groups plying the same industrial-rave sound. The title track and lead single “Pentafunk” bounces along well enough, but its digitized refrain and cookie cutter programming feel about as natural and fluid as the circa-1997 robot girl who stars in its video. “Pestilenz” and “Neandertal” both benefit from some actual vocals but fall victim to the same indistinguishable sequencing. Indeed, one could probably lift many of the album’s synth parts and hooks out and switch them between songs without anyone noticing (even Eisenfunk themselves). Even when they do break from their homogeneous rut, as they do on the Japanese textured “Taiko”, it’s only for an intro or breakdown before plunging back into a flurry of mindless doof-doof. The one exception is also the album’s sole bright spot, “Jericho”, which actually exhibits a sense of *gasp* dynamics and build, and calls to mind some of Nachtmahr’s more martial sounding numbers. It’s not nearly a good enough cut to offset the execrable Christmas novelty song “Jinglefunk” (seriously), which is so embarrassingly juvenile a happy hardcore producer might have thought twice before pressing it.

The fact of the matter is that like a lot of groups working in this particular vein, Eisenfunk don’t seem to be aiming to make a great album. Instead, one can only assume that they want to put out something that’ll get play in clubs and they’ve probably achieved that; you can take that as an indictment of the state of scene DJ playlists if you like. That said, even the bands that will likely be mentioned in the same breath as Eisenfunk, like the gloriously stupid but fun [X]-Rx and Phosgore, make concessions to pushing their sound occasionally. There’s no real excuse for something this generic and formulaic: regardless of how low your expectations are set, Pentafunk will manage to mindlessly dance its way beneath them.