“It’s beyond my personal demons, and extremely honest,” says LaPlegua of the fifth Combichrist album Making Monsters. With five albums, thousands of shows, and four full months in Europe touring with Rammstein (in front of hundreds of thousands of people), Combichrist has become a purely visceral creature, driven by instinct and emotion; stripped of all pretension. Its urgency – most evident in the raw and uncompromising new album – is fueled by expressions of lust, anger, pain and hate.
Presenting a foreboding soundscape, the album kicks off with a hauntingly atmospheric instrumental “Declamation,” setting the tone for what is to follow: dark, stabbing synths; heavy, robotic beats; and swarming, buzz saw-style guitar sounds. Songs such as “Follow the Trail of Blood” (featuring Brendan Schiepatti of Bleeding Through) are baretoothed aggression; meanwhile the floor-stomping, first single “Never Surrender” proves to be aggressively catchy, with its metronome-tight rhythm through the verses, giving way to explosive choruses that is bound to pack dance floors. “Through These Eyes of Pain” takes a much subtler approach. Its echo-y vocal wash and glitchy beats conjure images like a mournful dream, exposing the man inside the monster. Though the moods displayed in Making Monsters are decidedly sinister, LaPlegua manages to portray these emotions in many different guises. Laden with hook heavy choruses, speaker-crushing beats, and LaPlegua’s trademark dark, aggressive vocals, this is an album that exudes honesty and the darkness that often comes with it.
Initially cutting his teeth in the seminal Norwegian hardcore bands Fleshfire and Lash Out, LaPlegua segued out of that scene into the electronic music world with Icon of Coil. Originally a solo project, it morphed into a full band with the additions of Sebastian Komor and Christian Lund. Not only did IOC mark LaPlegua’s first major work with electronics and dance beats, but it also granted him wider exposure beyond Norway; IOC was LaPlegua’s first project to be released in the United States.
It wasn’t until 2003 that LaPlegua founded Combichrist – the project that would soon dominate his time. A departure from IOC’s futurepop sound, Combichrist took LaPlegua’s hardcore past and electronica present and merged them into a singular, mechanical music monster. Without the compromise of the band dynamic, LaPlegua, who does everything in the studio himself on Combichrist releases, was able to explore whatever avenue he desired musically. What he found was a long dark road with plenty of twists and turns. The Joy of Gunz, LaPlegua’s first release as Combichrist, was quickly followed by two EP’s: 2004’s Kiss the Blade and Sex Drogen und Industrial.
In 2005, LaPlegua was back at it again, releasing the landmark album Everybody Hates You. Defying the dreaded sophomore slump, the second Combichrist full-length featured two tracks that would become club classics—“This Shit Will Fuck You Up” and “This Is My Rifle”—and was also the project’s U.S. debut on Metropolis Records. Further benchmarks were set with the release of the 2006 EP Get Your Body Beat, the title track of which landed Combichrist its first appearance on Billboard’s Top 10 Dance Singles chart.
The years that followed brought on two more full-length albums — What the Fuck Is Wrong with You People? (2007) and Today We Are All Demons (2009) — as well as a handful of additional EPs. On top of Combichrist’s many releases, LaPlegua has also logged countless miles, globetrotting on tours of Europe, South America, Australia, the United States and points in-between.
Though Combichrist has kept him busy over the past seven years, LaPlegua has other interests that fill the rare breaks from his main musical project. The Atlanta, GA – based songwriter maintains Panzer AG, a sonic hybrid of Combichrist and Icon of Coil and even plays in a straightforward American rock ‘n’ roll band, Scandinavian Cock. This affinity for Americana is also displayed in his love for hotrods and motorcycles. On his MySpace page, LaPlegua states, “I’m a Norwegian grease ball, and I’m never afraid to get dirty!”
With Making Monsters, man and beast have combined, evolving beyond the demon it once was and into a greater, bigger and more malevolent force in music. This time, there’s no surrender.