13 Above the Night – My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult

Release Year: 1993

Rating: 8.5/10

When a band wants to change their sound it can have disastrous results. It may not sound good and some fans will feel betrayed. But Thrill Kill Kult takes that risk with every album they release. Whether it’s industrial metal, swing, new wave, disco, or techno, the band always gives fans something new and unexpected with each record. Somehow they make it work without being cheap or straying way too far from their roots. While there are hints of the creepy, eerie sound they started out with on their fourth album, this record is drenched in club music that wants to make you sweat.

The thing I love about Thrill Kill Kult is they have their own brand of weird dance music that’s actually interesting and rarely repetitive, which is a big reason why I’m not a fan of EDM. And this vibe is found all over this album. Though it’s not my favorite song “The Velvet Edge” represents the cool, sexy, mood of the band. It begins in a fury of noise with lots of distortion and screaming. It then mellows out with some weird wonky synth that’s both slinky and playful. It’s also kind of sleazy, which fits in with the band’s attitude. They also let the sexy fly on tracks “Dirty Little Secrets,” which has breathless singing, and “Disko Fleshpot,” which explores various realms of sex and lust. These tracks show even though the music may change, their sensual themes stay the same.

The band throws fans for a loop with tracks like “Dirty Little Secret” and “Blue Buddha.” The former song has this groovy, cool-cat groove that’s made for a Jazz lounge. It’s really smooth and has a bit of a swing vibe, making it sound like something that should be played in an 40’s underground club. It’s not the best track on the album since it gets dull after awhile, but the different sound further shows how the band isn’t afraid of pushing the boundaries. The same goes for “Blue Buddha.” This one has more of a hip-hop/funk flavor. Similar to the other tracks, it has a great groove and is really playful with the lyrics. Again, not the best on the record, but not terrible.

The creepier side of the band comes out on “Delicate Terror,” which has electro pulsing music with synth made for a horror movie. The main sample of “Join the children of hell” adds a sinister layer to the track. Otherwise the song is drenched in excess as Groovie Mann sings “Hypnotic mouth talks on fantasy phone/Sanitarium Borderline/Gone today and here tomorrow…/Killed his taste for switchblades.” “Dementia 66” is also on the eerie side with ethereal sounds and unsettling chanting. Groovie Mann even sounds ghoulish when he’s singing. The whole thing sounds like something that should be playing during a ritual or sacrifice, especially with a weary voice pleading “Oh god help me” in the background.

Most of the album seems to be inspired by dance music, house music in particular. The band have always had elements of dance in their work but it’s represented best on this album. “Final Blindness” was made for a rave with the out of control electro music and blaring sirens that signal some sort of chaos. All that’s missing are the glow sticks. “China de Sade,” “Starmatyr,” and “13 Above the Night” all use electronic music as a basis and then throw in dashes of disco, hip hop, funk, soul, and a lot of groove to create an eclectic dance beat. There are also lots of samples thrown in and are mixed so well they become their own rhythm. What the band does flawlessly is mix and transform sounds so you’re never sure what to expect next. Not only does it make the music more interesting, but it keeps listeners on their toes.

Even when the band slows things down they want to keep listeners moving. On the awesome and sensual “Badlife” Groovie Mann sings “He’ll castrate your soul/and penetrate your mind” while the slick music keeps its mellow groove. This has always been one of my favorite songs: not only do Groovie Mann’s soft vocals sound sexy, there’s also this underlying creepiness to it with the distorted noises and howling that sounds like ghouls in distress. The closing track “Savage Sexteen” is another stand out entry on the LP. It’s pretty catchy and again has that cool vibe and slickness the band exudes. Just as with the other songs, you can dance to this one and admire Groovie Mann’s wordplay like “Sinderella pussy cat.”

Each Thrill Kill Kult album is a fun, unique experience. Some of the same themes, samples, and sounds expand across their entire body of work, but they always have something new up their sleeve. This album takes dance music as a basis and adds on top on of it with different genres, moods, samples, and vibes. Some of the tracks are creepy ala classic TKK, while others are sensual and sexy, a mood the band plays with so well. Even if every song isn’t catchy or memorable, 13 Above the Night is still a really fun album to get loose and dance the night away to. After listening to this record, you can’t wait to hear what comes next.

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