We’ll always have a yen for the classic dark electro template, whether we’re listening to the genre’s formative releases or newer work that’s content to revisit halcyon days. Deadly Injection’s first LP, Taste Me! was a fun enough example of the latter. But it’s rare to come across a record so wholly devoted to replicating a particular set of influences as Zombified, the German duo’s follow-up. A record that’s so direct in its lineage (80% :wumpscut: and maybe 10% each of Leaether Strip and Psychopomps) has to be able to deliver, and while there are some enjoyable moments here, it ultimately pales in comparison to its sources.
The production and execution of Zombified walks a fine line, aiming to sound of a part with classic early 90s releases without going out of its way to intentionally sound rough or lo-fi. On the whole it succeeds – the no-bullshit approach to rubbery but aggressive basslines generally hits the mark. From a compositional standpoint, Deadly Injection have clearly spent time examining the layering and structure of the records they’re drawing upon, but their imitation of them often hits too close to home: the title track is such a dead ringer for “Dying Culture” and a couple of other Bunkertor 7 tracks that you can’t help but gawk.
It’s when the thematics of Zombified are actually attended to that its homage to legendary artists begins to really go sideways. Sure, artists like Leaether Strip have made a virtue of singing about commonplace experiences and problems with direct conviction, but the facile and at times outright corny nature of Deadly Injection’s lyrics don’t communicate that same sense of impassioned honesty. Things get off to an rough start with “Stay Away”‘s awkward celebration of protective jealousy which sounds more like frat boys in a shoving match (“Stay away from my girl you bloody bastard”) than an exploration of the dark side of humanity. “Get your dick back in your pants you fucking asshole” isn’t a line I ever expected to hear in a dark electro song, but here we are. When “Tell Me Why” comes on the heels of a tune like that, it’s tough to tell if its celebration of willful ignorance is meant to be satirical or not.
Not every record needs to reinvent the wheel or change how we think about a particular sub-genre of post-industrial music. There’s nothing wrong with genre exercise for its own sake, but Deadly Injection go through the motions with such rote precision that one spends more time scratching one’s head at the mimicry than Zombified‘s occasional moment of fun on its own merits. No track better demonstrates this than “War”, which begins with the line “Suddenly there was war”…and yet is somehow not a cover. If you’re going to be that overt in your debt to a classic band, you’d better be delivering something far closer to the strength of the original.