Alone We Are Trouble, Together We’re at War

So we need to wrap up Combichrist week, considering it technically ended about nine days ago. In that time, another week and another artist I haven’t even told you about has come and gone, and posts about that need to be made, as well as the announcement of the band I’m listening to this week. What I’m trying to say is that I’m doing my best to catch up. There are some big weeks coming up, and falling behind was never my plan. Honestly, this was a lot easier to do when I had mountains of free time during the day. But enough apologizing, because thoughts on Combichrist need to happen before they flit out of my head for good.

I was introduced to Combichrist because of musical curiosity. There are certain genres and bands that never appear on the radio, and in the days before Pandora and Spotify, it was harder to get exposed to new music without actively seeking it out. I’ve discussed my ongoing interest in industrial music, and while on a quest for more of it, I found Combichrist. At one point, I had downloaded their first three albums and listened to them that way. Later, when I came in to a bit of money, I bought the deluxe editions of Everybody Hates You and What the F**k is Wrong With You People. As new albums came out, I bought them. I lost track for a bit of time, until I heard about the No Redemption album, essentially the soundtrack to the video game DMC. I downloaded it in anticipation of buying it, and it was awful! Upon hearing that it was the “new direction” they planned on going in, I decided I was done with getting more Combichrist. I don’t regret the decision. I was maturing out of my Combichrist phase at that point. There is only so much aggression that you can carry for a long time.

But they did a really good job of dominating my early thirties. At the time, I was trying to forge my way in a new career in IT, and I’m almost ten years older than others starting their careers, but without the experience to go along with those ten years. It was a struggle and a bit of a gamble, and in the early part of my thirties, it wasn’t quite falling in to place. What I lacked more than experience, though, was confidence. When experience fails, confidence can help fill in that gap, and maybe persuade the interviewer on the other side of the table to take a chance on you, or maybe help you persuade your boss to give you more responsibility. I didn’t have a lot of confidence, though. But Combichrist makes you feel kind of awesome. It makes you feel aggressive and superior and just a bit badass. And I really needed a boost like that.

We’ve discussed this before but I’ll bring it up again. Music can be used to accentuate a mood you already feel, and music can be used to change your mood. Though I’ve used Combichrist for both, I’ve definitely used it more for the latter than the former. Combichrist makes everything a little more hardcore and badass. Bored with cooking dinner? Turn on I Want Your Blood or Can’t Change the Beat. Presto! Now you’re not just cooking, you are roasting the flesh of your enemies or just making a motherfucking casserole like a goddamn boss! Studying got you down? Throw on a little Slave to Machine or This S*it Will Fcuk You Up and Blammo! Now you are working against the intolerant oppression of the man or planning their downfall! Having a bad day at work? Finish your shift, clock out, walk calmly to your car and put on I’m Happy Anyway or, my personal favorite for that occasion, F**k That S**t and instantly feel better! My best friend Josh wrapped my Christmas present while listening to In the Pit and I thought it was the best way to wrap presents I’ve ever heard of.

Whether you subscribe to the Freudian idea of ego, super-ego and id or not, there is something to be said for the baser instincts of our lizard brains. That part of us needs release from time to time. Some people go to shooting ranges and put holes in paper targets. Some people fire up their computers or gaming consoles and boot up their favorite FPS and make pixels of blood splatter across their screen (I’ve done this with Quake and Unreal Tournament before with “god mode” turned on, very satisfying). Combischrist and other aggrotech bands like Caustic and Northborne are very useful for venting this kind of pressure. They are a regular go-to for me on this, as well as the FPS thing. Combining the two has proven exponentially effective.

There are some issues with Combichrist, though. I’m not blind (or deaf) to the fact that their music lacks a certain amount of depth. I mean, the music itself is really good. Heavy bass, repetitive rhythms and a lot of industrial noise are all good things, and they wield them well. But lyrically, they are not very deep or insightful. Sure, a lot of their songs focus on the feelings of being outcast and different and find strength through that, which is commendable. But just as many of their songs are about brutally killing or objectifying and subjugating women. I can kind of understand the violence thing. It can be harmless if taken the right way, the carthartic, blow away all the bots in Unreal Tournament kind of way. The women thing I just don’t get. I guess it’s just another expression of the id, of lower, crueler impulses. But my lizard brain has to draw a line somewhere.

All told, Combichrist represents a version of me I needed at the time, but one that I’ve outgrown. In my career, I’ve gained both the experience and confidence I needed (for the most part, imposter syndrome is still a bitch). In the rest of my life, I have found new, less abrasive ways to feel badass. Like my post about friends diverging, we sometimes diverge from music we love in the same way. They changed but we stay the same, so we part ways. Or they stayed the same, but we changed, and so we part ways. Or, and this is the most likely one, they changed and we changed, but we changed in different ways, so we part ways. Combichrist is like that for me. Like an old friend that I outgrew, I don’t mind meeting up, having a cup of coffee and laughing about old times with them. But they are not a part of my now, or a part of my later, just part of my then.


Mr. Tooduloo

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