Sitting down and listening to Slovenian metallers Noctiferia‘s tribute to their fellow Slovene agit rock legends Laibach, you realise just what a clever, mercurial band the latter really were and continue to be.
When the eight songs selected are rendered as they are here, in almost straight-faced death/industrial fashion, the layers of nuance fall away and you are left with well-meaning if slightly ham fisted and cumbersome cover versions rather than artful reimaginings. If Sepultura did a series of versions of the works of Marx and Engels set to nu-metal tinged rifferama, it would probably sound like Noctiferia’s take on Eurovision.
That’s not to say it’s particularly bad, because it isn’t. You’ll still enjoy taking this album for a spin if heavy, industrial-flavoured metal is something you enjoy listening to. And the martial heavy metal of bombast of Tanz Mit Laibach (recorded in cahoots with Mayhem‘s Attila Csihar) works perfectly. But for the most part Laibach’s music works because of the confusion it causes, both musically and ideologically. When delivered with a straight face, as it is too often here, much of the delight in the band’s work is stripped away. Former Morbid Angel man David Vincent, for instance, despite collaborating with Laibach in the early nineties, seems to miss the point entirely with his involvement, turning his take on Now You Will Pay into a straightforward exercise in stadium death overkill. Again, not altogether unpleasant, but just failing to grasp the crux of what it is that makes Laibach the modern day marvel they so clearly are.
Cleverly the band save the best for last, in the shape of a Jørgen Munkeby-assisted look at Nova Akropola; here the band transfer their own personality to the crawling, serpentine backbone of the track, assisted by Munkeby’s sax talents; in this track at last the concept behind Reforma sees ravishing success with the original’s key moments augmented and embellished rather than being washed away in a flood of downtuned sturm und drang. It’s a Damascene moment of sorts, and one which perhaps gives hope for a second, more fully-realised bite at the cherry from all concerned. Clearly, though Laibach themselves have become masters of the clever cover version over the years, it’s not quite as easy for others to interpret their work with quite as much panache…
Reforma is out now.