Review Summary: When Rammstein gets tiring, one doesn't have far to go to find something as great.
For the unacquainted, NDH seems like a genre almost single handily monopolized by Rammstein. Although true in the sense Rammstein has become the poster image, NDH had its origins more than in early-era Herzeleid and Sehnsucht. If NDH can be whittled down to the core, three albums can claim a place in synthesizing the genre’s soundscape: Oomph!’s Sperm, Rammstein’s Sehnsucht, and Megaherz’s Kopfschuss. Of the three, Megaherz was the latecomer to the NDH genre. The creation of Alexx Wesselsky in 1993, up until Kopfschuss Megaherz was largely devoid of any significant industrial, club-centric influences. With the joining of keyboardist Noel Pixx however, Megaherz took a turn into the territory forged by Oomph! and thrown open by Rammstein. Kopfschuss has a foot planted firmly in both synthetic industrial and hard, rhythmic metal. Synth lines are overlaid simple power-chord dominated distorted riffs, kept in time by prominent drumming. Although bass is not prevalent throughout many tracks, Wesselsky’s vocals make up the difference to provide the additional quantum of power needed to produce dominant tracks.
Opener Liebestöter quickly shows the influences aforementioned, letting the distorted guitars provide the foundation for keyboards designed to get your head moving. Verses provide the necessary build-up and anticipation of a chorus for which it would be uncommon not to sing along to. Miststück, Jordan, and Schizophren help to round out the introduced aggression by creating songs designed solely to get crowds moving and singing along. It is in this duty that Wesselsky soars, establishing the teeth needed to cement a sense of aggression and power into the tracks. Like Lindemann, Wesselsky possesses a deep voice and growling vocals, but unlike the Rammstein frontman Wesselsky possesses a slight rasping bark. Wesselsky indicates the prowess of this ability during Liebestöter and Jordan, where his harsh barking of the song titles during each chorus elevate each track and give more seasoned metal listeners something to relate back to.
Standard NDH fare is not all that graces the storage of Kopfschuss however. The softer Herz aus Stein lets the guitars and Wesselsky’s voice carry the melodies, producing a wonderfully balanced track not lacking in either accessibility or staying power. Freiflug, the track of Kopfschuss (and frequently thought to be written by Rammstein), uses soft synth lines and the power of Wesselsky’s voice to create a strong ballad which stands out among the heavier pieces by indicating Megaherz’s creative abilities. Unlike Sehnsucht with a larger emphasis on more ‘metal’ tracks, Kopfschuss puts its focus more upon well-rounded songs which draw a comparison more with recent The Other Side-era Farmer Boys than its close NDH cousin. Rappunzel, Teufel, and Falco cover Rock Me Amadeus show the results of this effort, oozing catchiness while maintaining the hallmarks of mechanized riffs, flowing keyboards, and the signature German vocals courtesy of Wesselsky. Heaviness here is minimized to make room for more melodic instrumentation, letting Wesselsky and distorted riffing maintain the necessary element of aggression needed to keep these tracks from descending into ballads. Nevertheless however some tracks do fall short. The album titled Kopfschuss and Blender, while centered more in the metal sphere, lack a sense of organized creativity and do nothing to invite repeated listens with choruses that fall short compared to other tracks such as Jordan or Liebestöter. Instrumental Burn could also be seen as misplaced thanks to the excellent accessibility of other tracks with their digestible lengths, eliminating the need for an instrumental break between the mechanized chaos of Kopfschuss’ track list. While not terrible, these tracks do induce a thought in hindsight of if Kopfschuss would have been better served by being trimmed down to 11 or 12 tracks.
Regardless of the slight nitpicks concerning a few tracks, Megaherz have created in Kopfschuss one of NDH’s strongest albums. It is not any significant factor Kopfschuss brings to the table that makes it one of the pillars of NDH, but rather its solid base and well-rounded collection of songs. Similar to Sehnsucht, Megaherz have through Kopfschuss indicated the malleability of an industrial and metal fusion, however by providing a more mainstream-esque soundscape in comparison to other fusions by groups like Samael. Rather than being an imitation of Sehnsucht, Kopfschuss plays to its own strengths, choosing to write more melodic, balanced tracks which sacrifice aggressiveness for catchiness. If anything, Kopfschuss solidifies what Oomph! derived, Rammstein perfected, and gives listeners a viable alternative when the likes of Du Hast, Engel, and Buch Dich! finally grow wearisome after hours of replaying. It may not be perfect, but for the NDH fan it’s everything that could ever be desired.
Herz aus Stein