Einsturzende Neubauten - Live at Rockpalast 1990 [DVD] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Einsturzende Neubauten

Live at Rockpalast 1990 📀 (2012)

MIG Music

Einturzende Neubauten were crazy as hell. Live at Rockpalast opens with frontman Blixa Bargeld stomping onto the stage by himself, yelling at people in German, and then smashing out an extended, single minor chord. He then repeats this again and again, growing wilder and more unhinged with each strike. Finally, the band appear behind him on "Feuiro" and EB begin their avant-industrial metal grind act.

Always at the front of the show is Bargeld himself. Sort of a German Johnny Rotten, he is skinny with bulging eyes, such pronounced cheekbones that he looks like a zombie and a crop of spiky red hair. Throughout the show he sings, screeches, hisses and even snarls at the audience. He alternates from debonair, in his clearly expensive suit, to demoniac, only able to convey himself in the most guttural sense.

Meanwhile, the band push what could be considered industrial into abrasive, weird territories. They're anchored by a rumbling rock beat but on nearly every song, N.U. Unruh and FM Einheit play found and scrap instruments: at one moment, they are using a hot water heater as a massive drum; at another, they smack down on sheet metal; at another, they are running a belt sander over metal tubing. The percussive instruments create a menacing horror movie soundscape to the alternatively driving and droning guitars, but also push the concept of what can be used as an instrument. The answer, according to EB is "anything that makes a sound."

This 1990 performance, which is from their commercial heyday, finds them to be well-oiled, tight and energetic. While earlier shows may have had a more slapdash or chaotic feel, here, when they smack on oil drums or bang a shopping cart, it seems to serve a specific purpose to modify the song, as opposed to just making noise for the purpose of studying its resonance. The music here is challenging, but powerful and tactical.

Later on, NIN and Ministry would become the reigning industrial kings. While they had abrasive and challenging sounds, they didn't dare to make music out of junk, or go for the full onslaught of wanton metal banging. Sometimes EB went too far in their berserk metal smashing, drawing the clank of metal bars out for four minutes while just a guitar charges forward and Bargeld screams or hisses, and that fearlessness is also what made them so great.

Note: This DVD set comes with an audio CD of the entire show. WHY DON'T ALL LIVE DVDS DO THIS?!