Our top 10 KMFDM songs list looks at the body of work of a Sascha Konietzko-led band famed for its industrial rock sound tinged with vivacious electronic, techno, and metal influences. Formed in 1984, KMFDM remains a significant groups in guiding industrial rock into the mainstream in the ‘90s alongside Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy, and Ministry. For almost four decades, Sascha has remained to be the lifeblood of KMFDM. His endured presence in all the band’s incarnations and his brutal, yet infectious, vocal assault make him an indispensable pillar of the band’s success.
With twenty-two studio albums to its name, KMFDM remains one of the most active outfits in the industrial rock scene. As a result, the band’s songs catalog stretches to over two hundred tracks. With most of the songs by the band being quite impressive, the long list of fan-favorite tracks left us with a tedious yet adventurous encounter shortlisting the best KMFDM songs of all time. However, we can’t get down to the band’s standout tracks without paying homage to the band’s beginnings and career progression, including album releases over the years.
KMFDM’s Career Beginnings and Signature Sound
Joined by Raymond Watts and Ton Geist, Sascha led KMFDM into issuing the band’s debut studio album, Opium. Opium saw the band take on pure industrial rock, with its songs echoing the influence of Throbbing Gristle, a band Sascha closely followed before the formation of KMFDM. Unfortunately, the album was far from impressive proving not enough to catapult KMFDM to success.
Two years later, KMFDM returned with its sophomore studio album, What Do You Know, Deutschland? Unlike Opium, KMFDM’s sophomore studio album saw the band introduce dance elements to its industrial rock sound. While the album might not have been a mainstream/commercial success, it set the prototype for KMFDM’s groundbreaking ‘90s. The album title track, “Zip,” and the T. Rex-inspired song “Me I Funk” are some of the notable musical gems featured on the band’s sophomore studio album.
Other Albums by KMFDM
In 1988, KMFDM issued its third studio album, Don’t Blow Your Top. The album was cited by some critics to have sounded like Ministry’s 1986 album Twitch. Once again, the album failed to catapult the band to mainstream/commercial success. However, songs like “No Meat-No Man” and “Disgust” were enough to keep KMFDM relevant in the industrial rock scene. UAIOE, issued in 1989, saw the band release some groovier industrial rockers thanks to some reggae and metal influences. “Rip the System,” “More & Faster,” and “Ganja Rock” are the most popular songs by KMFDM from the album.
After issuing UAIOE, KMFDM relocated to the US stamping its presence by featuring in multiple tours with Ministry. Almost a year after moving to the US, the band issued its fifth studio album, Naïve. Naïve saw the band venture into its staple blend of industrial rock and industrial dance music. This album is home to some of the best KMFDM songs including “Virus,” “Godlike,” “Naïve,” and “The Days of Swine & Roses.” “Godlike” is a nod to Slayer’s brilliance on the hit “Angel of Death,” having sampled its hook/riff.
Money, issued in 1992, marked the band’s sixth studio album. In this album, the band blended its industrial rock sound with electro-industrial influences. The move resulted in luscious tracks with blistering guitar riffs and noticeable dance beats. “Vogue,” “Split,” “Money,” and “Help Us — Save Us — Take Us Away” are the most popular songs from the album. While Money was a success, it failed to match the impact of electro-industrial-tinged albums issued in 1992 such as Last Rights by Skinny Puppy.
In 1993, KMFDM issued its seventh studio album, Angst. Angst saw the band strike a balance between its industrial rock and industrial metal influences. “Light,” A Drug Against War,” “Sucks,” and “Glory” are the best KMFDM songs from the album. Angst was fairly impressive in the mainstream placed by fans among the most influential industrial rock albums of 1993. In the same year, Genitorturers issued their debut album 120 Days of Genitorture. The album featured similar industrial rock and industrial metal sound influences as KMFDM’s Angst.
Nihil, issued in 1995, marked KMFDM’s eighth studio album. The album saw the band blend its signature industrial dance influences with industrial rock and industrial metal sounds. Joining Sascha Konietzko in the production of this album is Chris Shepard, a record engineer who has worked with other reputable artists including Incubus, The Smashing Pumpkins, Wilco, and Peter Murphy. “Juke Joint Jezebel,” “Ultra,” “Brute,” “Disobedience,” and “Terror” are the top musical gems by KMFDM from the album.
In 1996, KMFDM issued its ninth studio album, Xtort. Sascha and Chris Shepard collaborated once more in the production of this album. Among the additional personnel outsourced for this album include a former member of Ministry, Chris Connelly, and Cheryl Wilson. Cheryl is a popular session singer who has issued multiple songs with other distinguished artists including Rod Stewart, Michael Bolton, Celine Dion, Bill Withers, and The Smashing Pumpkins.
Xtort is the band’s most successful album in the mainstream having peaked at position ninety-two on the Billboard 200. “Dogma,” “Power,” Apathy,” and “Son of a Gun” are the best KMFDM songs from the album. While the album was a success, it failed to topple impactful industrial rock albums such as Antichrist Superstar by Marilyn Manson, The Process by Skinny Puppy, and Democracy by Killing Joke.
KMFDM returned in 1997 with its industrial rock/electro-industrial album Symbols. Symbols marked the band’s tenth studio album. Unfortunately, the album failed to match the success of KMFDM’s ninth studio album, Xtort. Nevertheless, it featured musical gems such as “Megalomaniac,” “Anarchy,” “Stray Bullet,” “Waste,” and “Leid und Elend.”
In 1999, KMFDM issued Adios as the band’s eleventh studio album. Adios marked the last album by the band issued through Wax Trax! Records. The album also marked KMFDM’s last album before going on a three-year hiatus the same year. Among additional personnel featured on this album are Cheryl Wilson, Nina Hagen, and Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy. “Witness,” “That’s All,” and “D.I.Y.”’ are the most popular songs by KMFDM from the album.
KMFDM returned to the music scene in 2002 with its album Attak, issued through Metropolis Records. Other distinguished artists who have had affiliations with Metropolis Records include Bauhaus, Doubting Thomas, Front Line Assembly, Peter Murphy, Gary Numan, and Skinny Puppy. Attak made it to the mainstream charts, rising to the eleventh spot on the Billboard Independent Albums Chart. “Skurk,” “Urban Monkey Warfare,” and “Risen” are the top musical gems off the album.
WWWIII, issued in September 2003, marked the band’s thirteenth studio album. The album is the only record by KMFDM to have been issued through Sanctuary Records. Most of the songs on this album are politically charged, seemingly criticizing the administration of the then-sitting President of the US George Bush. The album title track, “Last Things,” “Stars & Stripes,” and “Bullets, Bombs & Bigotry” are among the best KMFDM songs from the album. WWWIII made it to the third spot on the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums Chart.
KMFDM returned in 2005 with its fourteenth studio album, Hau Ruck. Hau Ruck was issued through Metropolis Records, with its production handled by the band members. The album was a mainstream success, peaking at number five on the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums Chart. Hau Ruck also made it to the forty-eighth spot on the Billboard Independent Albums Chart. “Professional Killer,” “Ready to Blow,” “Hau Ruck,” “New American Century,” and “Real Thing” are the most popular songs by KMFDM from the album. Hau Ruck features KMFDM’s cover of Jacquees Dutronc’s hit “Mini Mini Mini.”
In 2007, the band issued its fifteenth studio album Tohuvabohu. The album finds the band adding EBM influences to its industrial rock/industrial metal sound. More EBM influences can be felt with the band’s cover of “Los Niños del Parque,” a song from the EBM pioneers Liaisons Dangereuses. Other notable musical gems from Tohuvabohu include “Looking for Strange,” I Am What I Am,” and the album title track.
KMFDM returned in 2009 with its sixteenth studio album, Blitz. Blitz was a mainstream success, rising to the ninth spot on the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums Chart. The album features popular songs by KMFDM including “Bait & Switch,” “Davai,” and “Potz Blitz.” Blitz is also home to KMFDM’s cover of “Being Boiled,” a song issued by the English synth-pop outfit The Human League.
The band’s seventeenth studio album saw KMFDM return to its usual blend of industrial rock and electro-industrial sounds. KMFDM achieved mainstream success with the album rising to the eighth spot on the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums Chart. Standout tracks from the album include “Amnesia,” “Krank,” and “Lynch Mob.” Among the additional personnel contacted to make the album a success include Koichi Fukuda of Static-X and Sebastian Komor (best known for his collaborative works with Zombie Girl and Icon of Coil).
Kunst, issued in 2013, marked the band’s eighteenth studio album. The album made it to the tenth spot on the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums Chart, peaking at number forty-nine on the Billboard Independent Albums Chart. “Ave Maria,” I Heart Not,” and “Kunst” are the best KMFDM songs from the album. While Kunst was a successful album, it failed to match the feats made by other significant industrial rock albums issued that year including Hesitation Marks by Nine Inch Nails and Weapon by Skinny Puppy.
In 2014, the band issued its nineteenth studio album, Our Time Will Come. Our Time Will Come managed to rise to the twelfth spot on the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums Chart. The album is home to momentous tracks including “Salvation,” “Respekt,” and “Genau.” KMFDM returned with its twentieth studio album, Hell Yeah in 2017. Hell Yeah was fairly successful in the mainstream, rising to the fourteenth spot in the Billboard Top Dance/Electronic Albums Chart. The album title track and “Murder My Heart” are some of the best picks from Hell Yeah. Heaven Upside Down by Marilyn Manson is yet another notable industrial rock album issued in 2017.
Paradise, issued in 2019, marked the band’s twenty-first studio album. The album made it to the forty-fifth spot the Billboard Independent Albums Chart. Paradise featured Cheryl Wilson and Living Colour member Doug Wimbish as part of the additional personnel contracted to make the album a success. “Automaton” and “Paradise” are the best Other notable industrial rock albums issued that year include songs from the album. Hyëna, issued in September 2022, marks the band’s twenty-second and most recent studio album. “All 4 1” and “Hyëna” are among the notable musical gems from the album.
With twenty-two studio albums to its name, KMFDM is one of the most active industrial rock outfits of all time. KMFDM, together with Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, and Skinny Puppy, was among the outfits that took the industrial rock genre to mainstream success. The band has seen some of its songs featured in the soundtracks of high-profile films. Despite multiple lineup changes over the years, Sascha Konietzko has been a constant member of KMFDM, proving to be the band’s major pillar of success. Here are the all-time best KMFDM songs that we managed to come up with from the list of over two hundred songs by the band.
#10 – Son of a Gun
Ushering us to the top 10 KMFDM songs list is the electrifying hit “Son of a Gun.” The song is featured on the band’s ninth and highest-charting studio album, Xtort. “Son of a Gun” is quite an explosive hit instrumentally. Joining Sascha Konietzko in the vocals is singer, Dorona Alberti. The two give us a supercharged vocal delivery which adds to the song’s electrifying feel.
“Son of a Gun” contains drums samples from the 1969 hit “Amen, Brother” by The Winstons. The song is the only track off Xtort featured in our ten best KMFDM songs. However, hits like “Power” and “Dogma” gives “Son of a Gun” a run for its money, with some of the band’s fans placing them higher than our tenth pick.
#9 – WWIII
Almost two decades since the song was released, “WWIII” still remains a significant hit owing to its highly relatable content. The song was issued as the album title track and lead single off KMFDM’s thirteenths studio album. “WWIII” is an uncompromising industrial rock/industrial metal ballad emblematic of KMFDM’s scathing politically-inflecting rock ballads.
The song features audio samples of the former president of the United States, George Bush. “WWIII” is an attack on the former president’s ‘irrational’ policies which seemed to be fuelling a global war. Away from the song’s politically-charged lyrical content, “WWIII” features some heavy and energetic guitar riffs but still gives the band room to issue its electro-industrial inflections.
#8 – Money
Coming in at number eight on our ten best KMFDM songs list is the captivating track “Money.” The song introduces us to yet another impressive album title track by the band. “Money” was issued as the lead track of the band’s sixth studio album of the same name. The song features lyrics samples of the 1956 hit “Blue Suede Shoes” by Carl Perkins. “Money” prominently features electro-industrial influences that make it quite a danceable (yet head-banging) track.
The song went on to become a mainstream success, rising to the thirty-sixth spot on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs Chart. While “Money” manages to become our archetypical electro-industrial hit off the album Money, songs like “Vogue” and “Split” are its huge competitors. In fact, “Vogue” performed better than “Money” on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs Chart, peaking at the nineteenth spot.
#7 – Virus
Naïve, the band’s fifth studio album, was out of print for over a decade owing to copyright infringement on one of its songs. This alone denied some people a chance to explore the luscious taste of this strong industrial rock album tinged with industrial dance influences. Once accessible, hits like “Virus” proved too strong to ignore. The catchy vibes of the hit “Virus” set the bar so high for KMFDM’s later industrial dance-tinged albums.
“Virus” is heavily funky while still managing to give us a taste of the band’s piercing guitar riffs. Amongst songs from Naïve that give “Virus” a run for its money includes the album title track and “Godlike,” a song that contains samples of the 1986 hit “Angel of Death” by Slayer. “Virus” was featured on the soundtrack of the 1995 cyberpunk film Johnny Mnemonic.
#6 – Professional Killer
Number six on our ten best KMFDM songs list is the impressive hit “Professional Killer.” The song is among the most revered tracks off the band’s fourteenth studio album, Hau Rock. “Professional Killer” divulges the true sparkle in Lucia Cifarelli’s vocals. While the album gives a taste of her variant vocal styles, “Professional Killer” introduces us to her luscious croons which are quite soft yet striking. Another distinguished hit that brings out a similar vocal delivery by Lucia is “Amnesia,” off the band’s seventeenth album.
#5 – Light
Angst, the band’s seventh studio album, is by far one of the most impressive recordings ever issued by the band. Contracting Chris Shepard for mixing and engineering duties was a game-changer to the songs on this album, which were already legendary compositions. Among the top musical gems from the album is the raging hit “Light.”
“Light” features additional vocals from Dorona Alberti. The song went on to become a mainstream success, peaking at number thirty-one on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs Chart. “Light (Fat Back Dub)” is a remix of the song by Nine Inch Nails.
#4 – Anarchy
“Anarchy” is one of the most alluring hits off the band’s 1997 album, Symbols. The song is a legendary industrial rock ballad tinged with KMFDM’s staple electro-industrial sounds. “Anarchy” features the lead vocals of Tim Skold, a Swedish musician known for his collaborative work with Marilyn Manson and Shotgun Messiah.
Joining Tim in the vocals as a background singer is touring bassist Abby Travis. Abby is a revered musician best known for her collaborative work with The Go-Go’s, Beck, The Bangles, and Masters of Reality. “Anarchy” is highly revered by the band’s fans thanks to its ingenious lyrical content. The song was featured in the soundtrack of the 1998 racing video game Test Drive 5.
#3 – A Drug Against War
We head back to the band’s seventh studio album, Angst, home to our third-best KMFDM song, “A Drug Against War.” While most of KMFDM’s songs bring out the band’s industrial rock influences, “A Drug Against War” finds the band exploring the speed metal subgenre. The result is this bombastic rock ballad that rose into becoming a fan favorite. “A Drug Against War” has its lyrics allude to a social criticism against war.
The song was a mainstream success in Canada, rising to the seventeenth spot on the RPM Alternative 30. KMFDM issued a new version of “A Drug Against War” in 2011 under the title “A Drug Against Wall Street.” The lyrics of the new version were in support of Occupy Wall Street, a protest movement against economic inequality.
#2 – Megalomaniac
“Megalomaniac” is the best KMFDM song from the band’s tenth studio album, Symbols. The song has its lyrics satirizing other punk rock bands that drowned in the frenzy of mainstream success. “Megalomaniac” finds the band asserting its position as the best thing to have ever happened in the music scene. Like some songs by Rammstein, KMFDM features German lyrics on this song — almost makes you wish you knew some German.
“Megalomaniac” meets “Engel” by Rammstein in the soundtrack of the 1997 film Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. “Megalomaniac” is also featured in the 1998 racing video game Test Drive 5. The song is the band’s highest-charting ballad making it to number twenty-two on the Billboard Bubbling Under 100 Chart.
#1- Juke Joint Jezebel
Number one on our ten best KMFDM songs list is the bewitching hit “Juke Joint Jezebel.” The song is among the most popular industrial rock tracks of all time, and KMFDM’s signature song off the band’s eighth studio album, Nihil. “Juke Joint Jezebel” has its lyrics allusive of pleasure emanating from self-destructive behaviors.
The song was a mainstream success, peaking at number twenty-seven on the Billboard Dance/Club Play Chart. “Juke Joint Jezebel” is the band’s best-selling track, boasting over three million copies in sales. The song was featured in the soundtrack of the 1995 film Bad Boys. In 1997, KMFDM’s hit “Juke Joint Jezebel” joined other industrial rock ballads by Gravity Kills, Fear Factory, and Sister Machine Gun in the soundtrack of Mortal Kombat.
Feature Photo: ARMcgrath, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Top 10 KMFDM Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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