I recently had a discussion
with a fellow metalhead about Viking Metal. We
soon branched out, and ended up debating the plasticity of sub-genres, and - in
a giant leap for mankind; this has not happened inside an internet forum
before - actually agreed on something. That some sub-genres are far too wide.
That a lot of them are based more on the lyrical themes or even visual appearance,
than on the music they play. We renamed these sub-genres ”categories”. One
example is Viking Metal, which we used as the focal point, another - and more
relevant for this review - is NDH.
The term Neue Deutsche
Härte was apparently coined
back in 1995, when the Herzeleid album was put
out by Rammstein, who was to become the avantgarde pioneers
of the style. Since then a lot of bands has earned their NDH colors, even
retrospectively as was the case of Ooomph! and
Die Krupps. Now, it seems every single band gets
to be NDH as long as they use German lyrics! For example Tanzwut who
use more synth than most bands, but also
traditional German bagpipes in every song (and incidentally has the exact same
line-up as Corvus Corax). Or Terminal Choice,
an electro-rock group on the verge of
the endless German goth-scape.
As NDH’s right to the status as a well-defined genre is rapidly dissolving, Ihresgleichen put
out the album II - the subject of this already rather chaotic review.
I can't say if this is a musical coupe de grace
or perhaps the cornerstone in the rebuilding of NDH as a category rather than a
sub-genre. The reason for this doubt is that II contains so much, so many
different elements, used in so many ways. This is not traditional NDH, but is
could be a signature album of the genre anyway, as it is obviously possible to
put anything into the mix and call it NDH.
At its very core II is a well-known substance based on rock hard riff-work -
simple and efficient, like a Russian assault
rifle. This core is more hard rock than real metal. The metal parts are a
strange mixture of power metal semiquaver-drumming (in other words: Helloween-style)
and very dense Pantera-like marching chords. On
this fairly simple skeleton Ihresgleichen stacks
a cornucopia of musical spices.
The song Der Untergang has operatic male vocals
(and good ones at that), naturally blending in with majestic Wagnerian
Stahl, the first real song on II is more in the
veins of soft-core industrial than the rest of
the album. The clean vocals and female choir of Goetter is
somewhat echoed in the power ballad Nimmerland,
that also has a sort of medieval touch a la
Subway to Sally. As does Schattenweil
der Qualen but
that song is far more powerful. Engel
der Nacht reeks
of drama and theatrics.
II is indeed a difficult album to place - both within its category (as I am now
convinced NDH should be termed) - but also on the generic scale of 1-100. This
album will probably bore the hell out of you, if you are into harder stuff. But
most power metal fans, as well as all with a heart for soft industrial, NDH and
should give this album a try - it's one of those you either really dig or can