Review Summary: Rammstein meets steroids, without the ball loss
Following in the footsteps of giants can be a difficult thing. Besides the very real risk of death by massive footstep there always remains the possibility of being called a copycat and desiring to obtain fame off of the backs of innovators. NDH newcomers Eisbrecher are of no exception to this rule, entering the field of Rammstein-dominated industrial metal with little more than—although well-done—re-run of catchy keyboard infused songs featuring prominent chugging guitars and pounding drums on their self-titled release. Returning with their sophomore release Eisbrecher show just how they wish to be perceived, and like before it’s not as giant slayers. Nothing on Antikörper will immediately pop out to those unfamiliar with Rammstein or similar acts, all the necessary NDH elements are present. We can hear the distorted guitars, the pounding drums, and the ever present synth lines. The harsh German vocals courtesy of Alexx Wesselsky are still present and the Teutonic images are never far from one’s mind. It is under the surface of the very stereotype produced by Eisbrecher however that the shine emerges from its grimy exterior.
One of the downsides for some on Eisbrecher’s first release was the lack of ‘hard’ songs, those which systematically crack your skull open as you drive your daddy’s car into the overpass support trying to keep in sync with the bass beats. The first opening track Adrenalin has something to say about this, greeting listeners with what truly defines Antikörper: aggression. It doesn’t come from the guitars, no, not even the drums. Unless you call yourself a fan of harsh EBM or dark electro it would be hard to see how synth lines can be called aggressive either. No, the aggression comes from the vocals. Unlike Lindemann of Rammstein, Wesselsky has found that barking out harsh growls is more interesting than using a large dildo on your keyboardist. Unlike Lindemann as well, Wesselsky does them with enough intensity to truly give the songs an additional layer of what could probably be called that ubiquitous ‘heaviness’. Songs like Kein Mitleid and Phosphoer are uplifted from standard NDH fare into tracks which call for pummelling the nearest individual into a pulp. It is the aggressiveness of them, the harsh Germanic-edge often associated with Rammstein that gives them their catchiness and vitality. It is not so much its firm footing in NDH as the fact Antikörper increases its depths and shows other acts how to maximize the ‘hard’ aspect of the music.
Not all the tracks have this new gloss on them however, as Eisbrecher still finds room for other influences to show their face. Ballads like Ohne Dich and Vergissmeinnicht take a step away from the marching Teutonic army to explore the softer, clubby side of NDH. Improvement has been wrought here compared to the self-titled as well, seeing more focus upon the merger of synth and guitars, becoming a thorough blending of sound rather than a half-hearted attempt to combine the synth lines with basic distorted guitar riffs. Vergissmeinnicht shows how this attention to the instrumentation takes it beyond the plateau where earlier songs like Frage and Mein Blut wallowed and stagnated, unable to be carried by Wesselsky’s voice alone. Other songs like Leider take a more abstract approach, giving the illusion of a more industrial feel without moving far from the comfort zone. Once again it is the instrumentation which propels these tracks, giving them a synergetic effect with Wesselsky’s voice that leaves them implanted in your mind.
By maximizing on the ground already covered by the likes of Rammstein, later Oomph!, and Kopfschuss-era Megaherz, Eisbrecher have crafted what can be described as one of the best examples of the NDH genre. It is not its progression or change which identifies it, but rather its solid footing in the genre and a commitment to form. It is Antikörper’s stereotypical-ness that makes it a great album, because unlike others who have dared walk the path of giants, it makes the attempt to better secure the ground already tread rather than to follow it perfectly.