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I find one question haunting me everytime I listen to this album: "what good spirits?" I sure don't see them. All's I see are the bad ones. It's quite possible the bad spirits have the good ones locked in the basement. Or maybe they... ate them? No telling, but one thing's for sure: this album is evil, pure and simple.
It's like a black celebration commemorating a grand, satanic conquest. Think of a dark, blood-stained dancefloor clogged with ghouls and wicked things, all pulsing and gyrating while a house band pumps vilified electro-industrial-goth-funk through monstrous, brain-hemmoraging speakers. Well, Thrill Kill Kult is that house band.
"I See Good Spirits and I See Bad Spirits" was released in December 1988 on the legendary Chicago-based industrial label 'Wax Trax!' This is TKK's debut album, and as such it's less polished than their later releases. It may even sound dated to those who haven't grown up with it. But if that turns you off, then you're missing out on some great music.
The easiest category in which to pigeonhole TKK is "industrial." There are some heavy industrial overtones, true, but TKK shares just as much in common with goth, house, glam, metal, and even funk. Add to that their own original and idiosyncratic style and you find TKK in a league all their own.
The album is ripe (or rotten) with diabolical imagery. "There are a lot of people who practice independent satanic rituals" is the first sample you hear, followed by "there are just some, uh, eccentric housewives trying to imagine the devil under every bed." "The tempter, the bad Mary" and "lovers and killers of Christ" sings TKK crooner Groovie Mann on the album's second track, "X-Communication." "This man says I have needed to mend my unholy life" he wails on "... And This Is What The Devil Does." Yep, he has some 'splaining to do when he arrives at those Pearly Gates.
My favorite track on this album, and one of my favorite all-time TKK cuts, is "Do You Fear (For Your Child)." There are so many cool things going on in the music. Buzz McCoy pulls out all the stops: from his ominous bass guitar to the numerous samples -- "oh, uh-uh-uh-oh," "straight outta hell," "you're not God" -- this is a tight song. I love the lyrics, especially the first verse. Groovie's vocals, sleazy and ultra-cool, are right on, and the Bomb Gang Girls provide soulful backup.
The music on this album is varied and frenetic, and not quite like anything you've probably heard before, unless you have the other early TKK albums. "Heresy" and especially "Universal Blackness" are so dismal, foreign, and ominous it's almost frightening. Don't worry, the songs can't hurt you. Nevertheless, try not to listen to "Universal Blackness" with the lights off for any extended period of time if you value your sanity. Just a tip.
I don't know if it came across, but My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult is one of my favorite bands. If you're unsure about this band or this album, please take my review with a healthy dose of levity. And please make sure your conscience can handle all the unholiness that TKK will throw at you on this album. ...