Review Summary: Der Phönix bleitet seine Flügel auf.
It sure doesn’t take long to produce music when you’re on a roll. A year following das 2. Gebot Unheilig returned with probably one of their best known albums in Zelluloid. Just like a film flowing seamlessly between the individual scenes Zelluloid creates a complete picture without any breaks. Fast paced tracks teething with hooks are paced out with slower more melodic pieces that take full advantage of the lessons learned and perfected in das 2. Gebot. Certain tracks in themselves are strong enough among the album as a whole to provide the climax, creating moments that define Zelluloid and giving the all important reason to listen to the album again. And like many movies unfortunately, the ending just cannot quite live up to the climax. Of course, before one has to deal with the anticlimax and the letdown it entails, one first gets to live through the preceding scenes.
Once partway into Zauberer you know Unheilig have hit the accelerator. While a track which would not be hardpressed to be found on das 2. Gebot, Zauberer sets a positive mood as the keyboards and lightly paced NDH-styled guitars flow around der Graf’s characteristic voice. Nothing new, but nothing wrong either, as Zauberer proves that there are greater things to come. Indeed Hört Mein Wort shows the creativity of Unheilig, minimizing the instrumental segments to focus almost entirely on der Graf’s chant-like singing while maintaining all the featured influences behind the band. One discernable difference which emerges during certain songs however is the aforementioned positivity. Auf Zum Mond gives this off in waves with a chorus you cannot help but smile along to as der Graf’s voice is lifted away into the heavens by the flowing synth and lovely drum beat. It is as though Unheilig are thoroughly enjoying themselves, fully consumed by the music they have made and completely engaged in belting out every second to the listener. No better examples for this exist than in Freiheit and Tanz mit dem Feuer. While Freiheit slowly drags the listener in, increasing the emphasis before hitting the them with yet another Unheilig-esque chorus that is designed purely to stay in your mind for years, Tanz mit dem Feuer takes a page out of Rammstein’s book, letting the guitars and drums carry the majority of the song, but showing one way to transform the aggression into something less rigid and harsh (Du Hast anyone?).
There is no sudden drop off in Zelluloid, no break with earlier tracks that leaves one questioning where things took a turn for the worst. The sole problem with Zelluloid is the appearance Unheilig bit off more than they could chew. Many of the tracks following Sieh in Mein Gesicht are lacking in the energy seen during earlier numbers like Auf Zummond and Freiheit. Mein König and Feier Dich! just do not have the strength needed to stand in comparison to previous tracks, while the instrumental Zelluloid again shows the problems Unheilig experiences trying to write tracks without der Graf’s voice, bringing one back to the forgettable Herzland from das 2. Gebot. While not a serious problem, the running out of steam does leave a slightly disappointed feeling in the stomach. What it does indicate is a need for Unheilig to maintain their ambition and limit themselves to prevent overextension and the very discernable exhaustion seemingly suffered from as Zeig Mir, dass Ich Lebe finally sputters to a halt. No better example exists than between the previously mentioned song and Herz aus Eis. Whereas Zeig Mir, dass Ich Lebe suffers from a poor chorus and easily forgettable verses, Herz aus Eis focuses almost entirely on the chorus, letting it gently pick you up and take you along its slowly drifting current, enabling you to lose yourself and wonder where the previous five minutes went. It is the attention to detail and being able to recognize their limits which will enable Unheilig to become sustainable as an act, vitality which will unfortunately become lost if they try to push their natural boundaries too soon and create broad albums extending beyond the hour mark.
Zelluloid have shown the spreading of Unheilig’s wings and taking flight of their music. Little has changed from das 2. Gebot except the solidification of their songwriting and the introduction of noticeable positivity and enjoyment in performance. These are tracks to sit back and have fun to, something to listen to at parties or while out for a long drive. Although some might be weaker than others and certain numbers would be better left off the final product, none in of themselves begin to question the capabilities of Unheilig and their future as a band. By focusing more on creating albums capable of being digested in a lesser period rather than trying to form those pieces worthy of a pedestal it stands to reason they have nowhere else to go but up. Indeed if they can create albums almost entirely like those seen during the first two thirds of Zelluloid there is no reason why Unheilig could not become a name as worthy and recognizable as Rammstein. But then again too, ambition never hurt anyone, especially when ego is the only thing which could stand in your way of further success.
Hört Mein Wort
Tanz mit dem Feuer