Review Summary: The icebreaker has successfully rediscovered its old path through the ice.
Something was lacking in Eisbrecher with the release of Eiszeit. The pulsating energy of Sünde had been replaced by a lacklustre, strained performance of songs devoid of even the basic level of coherence and liveliness seen in the likes of Kann denn Liebe Sünde sein and Vergissmeinnicht. It was as if Eisbrecher had run into a wall, frozen and drained of the very creativity and adherence to form enabling their original rise to fame. Due to their new-found defects many have been waiting with nervous apprehension and worry for Eisbrecher’s next performance in Die Hölle muss warten; would it follow Eiszeit in stuttering along, unable to find its feet before falling once again into the pit of its own design? Thankfully (and not without some relief) Eisbrecher have managed to learn from their self-made problems. Die Hölle muss warten delivers on what Eisbrecher has been known for, strong and forward driving tracks brimming with synth, powerful drums and guitars, and Wesselsky’s dominating voice. There is no creative exhaustion to be seen here, however some change is still noticeable. Aggression has been toned down in favour of more balanced songs, deriving more power from their catchy longevity rather than through distorted and heavy auditory strength, while timid evolutionary steps are made with some unique instrumental inclusions. With Die Hölle muss warten Eisbrecher have produced the album Eiszeit was seemingly intended to be.
No time is wasted upon clicking play. Die Hölle muss warten quickly warms the ears up with Tanz mit mir, forging full on ahead with blasting guitars, pounding drums, and a humorous synth line before ascending into a chorus oozing with rhythm and accessibility. This is what was missing from Eiszeit’s opener Böse Mädchen and indeed a majority of the album plagued by bland choruses and no small amount of filler. Undaunted, things continue into Augen unter Null which doesn’t lack in a similar thrashing of the tympanic membrane through the crunching guitars and another unique synth line. Of a slower pace than Tanz mit mir, Augen unter Null makes use of a soft melody during the chorus to derive and maintain a pleasant consistency from start to end. Just from these first two tracks it is clear Eisbrecher have managed to find a new source of energy and enthusiasm. Tracks are more rounded and fleshed out, infused with a creative spark sorely missing from the likes of Bombe, Segne Deinen Schmerz, and Böse Mädchen. Vibrancy is present throughout, with songs such as the single Verrückt and Exzess Express providing a level of energy needed to thoroughly engrain the album into the listener. In both aggression and club-based melody, Eisbrecher have returned to the creation of tracks worthy of repetitious listens.
It is on most of the album however where Die Hölle muss warten separates itself from the earlier releases of Antikörper and Sünde. Except for Verrückt, Exzess Express, and Abgrund there is little in terms of dominant aggression and heavy auditory assault. Most songs gracing the track list sacrifice these qualities for melody, club-catchiness, and quasi-ballad form. The album-titled Die Hölle muss warten uses its synthetic base and Wesselsky’s vocals to build into chorus which can quickly get one’s head bouncing up and down, while Prototyp provides just enough of a metal taste through its pounding drums and simple guitar riff to let Wesselsky seal the pact by completely grabbing the listener and refusing to let go. Die Hölle muss warten ultimately perfects what Eiszeit was aspiring to be, a NDH album focused more upon the clubs and small concert stages, using its infectious choruses and smooth rhythms to give each track its independency and produce the call for repeated listens. As Keine Liebe bounces along on a simple keyboard-ridden rhythm and lets Wesselsky handle melody, the unique Atem uses its eerie synth line to help synergize both with Wesselsky and the distorted guitars to form a powerful outro standing out from the rest of the album through its strength in emotion rather than aggression.
It is by placing an effort on creative individuality where Eisbrecher succeed on their current release. By acknowledging where their faults are located, they have moved around them to further perfect the sound their evolution had hinted at with Eiszeit. Rather than letting the disintegration of the fusion between synth, guitars, and vocals continue, Eisbrecher have corrected the problem and returned to the near perfection achieved with Sünde. As Die Hölle muss warten, Atem, and Augen unter Null show the focus has paid off with an album designed to be listened to from start to end. Room is left for innovation to make an appearance however. The dubstep craze must have had an effect during the writing process as Herz aus Eis quietly features the characteristic bass during the verses before exploding into a crashing, ballad-fused chorus indicative of what Korn’s the Path to Totality could have looked like with more ingenuity and focus. Ein Leben lang unsterblich returns to the ballad soundscape of Ohne Dich to create a simple, yet effective song providing a different taste from the other aural samples featured. Even in Abgrund aggression becomes tempered by ingenious synth and a vocally calmer Wesselsky to give a more rounded, multi-dimensional sound rather than a simple, pounding wall of chaos. Given the almost complete turnaround from Eiszeit the weaker tracks of In Meinem Raum and Rette Mich can be forgiven; after all, perfection can never be expected on any release.
Following the last seconds Atem any doubts remaining from the Eiszeit period of Eisbrecher’s career can be confidently extinguished. The problems of creative exhaustion and musical disintegration of the fused synth-guitar soundscape forged on previous releases have been eliminated, replaced with an album deserving of back to back listens. The relegation of aggression to the back seat has paid off with melody, rhythm, and accessibility oozing from the recesses of almost every track while Wesselsky provides just enough teeth to keep one hooked on what the next chorus will bring. Although innovation and evolution are not largely seen except for the likes of Herz aus Eis, Eisbrecher was never one attempting to seriously expand the boundaries of NDH. By playing to the strengths of the genre and those elements best manipulated by themselves, Eisbrecher have largely perfected the more aggressive club-centric side of NDH and found a perfect niche for themselves. The caveat of whether such driven creativity can be kept up remains at the back of the mind however. If Eisbrecher can manage to repeat the success achieved here with Die Hölle muss warten and keep the important element of genre uniqueness and individuality, they can avoid a relegation of their success reminiscent of Eiszeit. Only time will tell if Eisbrecher have yet to reach the limit of their success.
Augen unter Null
Die Hölle muss warten