Review Summary: Where innovation meets repetition, a bold silver lining results.
Megaherz has had a troubling time following Herzwerk II. With the departure of Alexx Wesselsky over creative differences, the band has struggled to find and maintain a vocalist. After finding Matthias Elsholz (who coincidentally had a short performance in the track Falsche Götter) and releasing 5, the band once again was left to find another vocalist with his sudden departure to spend more time with family. Again perseverance paid off with Alexander Wohnhaas joining the group in 2007. The result was 2008’s Heuchler and Megaherz’s best ever standing reached in the DAC. Now four years later Megaherz have once again returned with Götterdämmerung and the first album since Herzwerk II to feature a continuing vocalist. Although a great accomplishment for a band whom many have believed to be on the path to death following 5, in Götterdämmerung Megaherz are showing some-if not significant-noticeable problems leftover from Heuchler in melding around Wohnhaas and producing a sound carrying the same level of power, accessibility, and retention as that seen during the Wesselsky years. Although nowhere near terrible, Götterdämmerung is not the complete comeback many are hoping for.
The immediate problem plaguing Megaherz is the vocal performance of Wohnhaas throughout Götterdämmerung. Like his performance in Heuchler, Wohnhaas here has a very one directional singing style, choosing to avoid an expanded range and rather maintain a more comfortable, standard tone from start to end. He never quite reaches the entropic anger thrown from Wesselsky’s mouth in a raging, rasping bark, nor can quite clean his voice to produce the melodic singing seen in earlier tracks like Freiflug or Wann wirst du gehn?. This is not to say however that he is a bad vocalist. Wohnhaas’ performance provides the necessary support to give each track the push it needs to extend beyond its simplistic instrumental base. The issue is Wohnhaas’ similarity on every track. Similar vocal performances cause individual tracks to bleed together and remove the unique markings allowing the listener to come to favourites and have them stay in their mind.
Wohnhaas’ vocals would not be a deterrent to some if Götterdämmerung possessed a dynamic and solid instrumental base. While all the necessary elements are present (distorted, heavy guitars, pounding drums, the catchy synth lines), they by themselves do not provide the level of creativity and uniqueness to stand by themselves without vocals. As Wohnhaas does not provide enough variation to infuse each track with its own fingerprint, the byproduct is a bleeding together between tracks of their instrumental soundscapes as well as vocals. The result can best be seen in the second half of the album where Mann im Mond, Feindbild, and Herz aus Gold end up feeling like one extended outro song. Although different instrumentally from one another, Wohnhaas ends up dominating each track to cause one to become bored and forgetful of the instrumentation as his vocal style changes little between each.
Regardless of the immediate defects, Götterdämmerung does possess quite a few silver linings. Megaherz are probably the first NDH band to extend a foot deeper into the more aggressive metal genres, with several songs like Keine Zeit and Rabenvater featuring double bass and more imaginative drumming than simple beats designed purely for power and getting bodies to rhythmically move. This provides a welcome sign of evolution and experimentation which builds upon the simple, aggressive style already perfected by Rammstein and Oomph!. Another noticeable change is a gradual shift to a guitar-centric focus rather than tracks dominated by synth and keyboards. Although still firmly planted in NDH and industrial metal, by changing the focus of where each track draws its strength Megaherz have opened up new possibilities for derived heaviness and with better implementation could easily obtain new converts. The problem with this shift is the vocals. To maximize the effects intended on Keine Zeit for example, a harsh bark is begged for similar to that employed by Wesselsky in Sünde-era Eisbrecher material. NDH requires a strong vocalist to direct the listener to the nature of the track. Although Keine Zeit does point to aggression, it can only become reinforced in the listener’s mind if vocalist rams it home. Similarly if Wohnhaas can work on and expand his range to better suit those ballad-like tracks seen on Götterdämmerung (Mann im Mond, Abendstern), Megaherz stands ready to claim a permanent position beside Rammstein as one of NDH’s most endearing bands.
It may not be the desired or best release in the career, but with Götterdämmerung Megaherz have shown promising potential for the future. Each track on this release may run together when listened from start to finish, but when listened to independently the possibilities quickly present themselves. If Wohnhaas can expand his vocal capabilities to breathe new life into future tracks it is not unreasonable to expect to see a reinvented Kopfschuss in the near future. By giving thought to more aggressive, metal styles of instrumentation, Megaherz have forged all the necessary tools required to create a form of NDH similar yet inherently different from Rammstein. All that remains for the long-lived group is put the individual pieces together and create the product Götterdämmerung’s album cover is calling out for. NDH is demanding an innovator, and Megaherz stands ready to give it one.