Out There

The big bang
Jesus Christ Superstars
Mute Records

Nothing/Interscope Records

If the world were about to end in a tremendous bang, Laibach would be the first in line to write the soundtrack--such is their scope and ambition. Some bands think big; this cryptic Slovenian quartet thinks colossal. In the past they have taken on gargantuan concepts such as NATO, totalitarianism (in Nova Akropola), a mini-album treatise that held six different versions of "Sympathy for the Devil," and a complete redoing of the Beatles' Let It Be. On Jesus Christ Superstars they do God with such grandeur that you don't know where the gravity ends and the irony begins, a majestic ambiguity that has been their trademark for years. Like Karl Orff or Richard Wagner fiddling with heavy rock and synthesizers and creating music grand enough to encompass the spheres, Laibach takes rock 'n' roll to pompous extremes with a similarly imposing purpose.

Massive orchestration and thunderous beats threaten to bring down Jericho. If you dig a little deeper, the band's insidious alchemy unfolds: "Kingdom of God" starts like Enigma, progresses into throbbing industrial, and finishes as heavy metal. "Declaration of Freedom" incorporates subtle trip-hop breaks laced with speedy guitar solos. "The New Light" is chillingly ambient, while "Message from the Black Star" does Sabbath a little blacker. Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Jesus Christ Superstar" is stripped of its cheesy cleverness, and in Laibach's hands becomes a truly sardonic opus.

Humongous in scope, ominous and hilarious at the same time, Jesus Christ Superstars finds Laibach at the pinnacle of its ambition. If rock music is such a big force worldwide, it may as well echo loudly long after the last dust of the apocalypse has settled.

Pearls before swine: Pig is one Raymond Watts, who writes, performs, and produces under the porcine moniker. Unlike Laibach--which always appears larger than life--Pig sounds rather small. He sings about guns, serial killers, and other trivialities of junk culture he seems so content to wallow in; his vision of the world is grim but extremely limited. You know the type: the neurotic fellow who tries to shock and disturb until he turns shockingly blunt and boring. The fact that Sinsational is on Trent Reznor's label gives the game away soon enough. This is the usual barrelful of humorless aggro-cliches by someone who can't see beyond sensationalist news on television.

--Philip Chrissopoulos


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