Review Summary: Alpinist releases a great debut.
Alpinist is a band that hasn’t been heard or experienced by enough people. They hail from Münster, Germany and play a style of crust (a sludgy brand of hardcore punk) tinged with screamo. Minus.Mensch (2009) marks the bands’ first full-length release. It’s full of raw energy, impressive transitions and melancholic dissonance. To be honest, I was expecting the production on this album to be of a lot lesser quality, but it is in fact more than sufficient. The harrowing intro riff in ‘Nighttime Poet, Daytime Dead’ is a great way to kick off the album. It builds beautifully and introduces you into the marvelously emotional landscape created by the band; something most listeners will be thankful for. The band has many things going for it, and the drummer is no exception. Hendrik is really a stand-out on this disc, as he supplies lots of impressive and tasteful fills. Vocals come in the form of a three-pronged attack, with both guitarists as well as the bassist providing screams and growls. I think the utilization of more than one harsh vocalist can be redundant and perhaps cliche at times, but such is not the case here. It works beautifully, actually, as the dynamic between medium-ranged, from-the-chest shouts and throaty growls creates a consistent contrast. It’s a vocal approach that can be compared to Circle Takes the Square in a sense, only with more focus and a little less chaos.
There’s really no weak tracks on Minus.Mensch, each track brings just as much intensity as the last. For every crushing section full of distressed screaming and filthy sludginess from the band, there seems to be a more melodic section waiting right around the corner where the band really succeeds in creating that emotional landscape I referred to earlier. This landscape reaches its purest and arguably most impressive form during the emotionally charged outro track, aptly named ‘Outro’. It’s a very impressive instrumental, which builds for the first minute and a half before exploding into a gorgeous melodic part at around 1:45. One gripe I have with the outro track is that I would’ve liked to hear some sort of vocals, at least one emotional ‘give it all’ type of scream to go along with what the band managed to create. There is a really good melodic riff which defines ‘A is for Army of Slaves’, a great build-up/transition section in ‘The Charme of Dominating’ which leads to a nice little outro riff, and tracks ‘Schalterhygiene’ and ‘2te Klasse Bahnabteil’ are great, brief punches to the face. And we all love those.
Minus.Mensch is a well constructed piece of work. It’s intense, it’s emotional, it’s focused.. And it’s worth checking out.