Being the most famous Yugoslavian band among Western listeners, Laibach doesn't need particular introductions. Their aesthetic - reminding both Nazism and Italian Fascism - was so extreme, provocative, and ambiguous that they were banned all across Yugoslavia from 1983 to 1986. "Opus Dei" is the album that marked their return to Slovenia, their first commercial success, and their first approaches to melodic songs (composing their owns, but also covering international pop hits). They did not sing in their native language, preferring German and English.
Laibach's self-penned tracks are really good (i.e. "Leben-Tod", a powerful industrial march, and "Trans-National", with its dancing vortex of samples), but what makes "Opus Dei" so brilliant is its overwhelming power to decontextualize existing songs.
"One Vision" by Queen, transformed in "Geburt Einer Nation", sounds as an hymn to the Aryan race, with these martial rhythms, bombastic synths and brass, and harsh German declaiming. The fact that the band was composed by Slavs in its entirety makes it even more grotesque.
A candid song such as "Life is Life", originally performed by Opus, is re-worked in two versions, "Leben heißt Leben" and "Opus Dei", both now sounding as a colossal apology to military life.
This is nothing less than sheer genius, it makes you feel amused on one side and teased on the other. At that time, both anarchists and totalitarists were pissed off by this music, and that proves Laibach's unquestionable power more than anything else.
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