It has been said that Kurt Cobain later complained about the slick sheen that mixer Andy Wallace gave to Nevermind. While it is unknown whether Essex industrialists Nitzer Ebb feel the same way about the production on “Join in the Chant” (download), it would come as no surprise to learn that they held a similar displeasure — viewed it as a compromise of their integrity, etc. But here’s the thing: Nevermind doesn’t sell a tenth as many copies without that mix job (ironically, that probably would have suited Cobain just fine). Likewise, Nitzer Ebb never makes a blip on the radar without Phil Harding, the mixer of choice for the pop production trio Stock, Aitken and Waterman, at the boards for “Join in the Chant.” Even the most accessible of the modern rock bands were having trouble making the jump to the mainstream; that an industrial track went Top 10 on the Dance charts in 1987, and the slot Nitzer Ebb subsequently scored as the opening act for Depeche Mode on the Music for the Masses tour, are unthinkable without Harding’s involvement.
There is little else to say about this song that the song does not say itself. The bass line has five notes, and does not deviate from them, ever. The percussion track consists almost entirely of the sound of metal on metal. There there’s the vocal, which is the stuff of legend: Guns, guns, guns, guns. Fire! Fire! Fire! Singer Douglas McCarthy wasn’t asking, he was ordering. Start dancing, you fuckers.