Review Summary: Eine neue Eiszeit beginnt or Still Lost in the TundraEisbrecher
is a difficult band to love. They burst onto the Neue Deutsche Härte (or Tanzmetal) scene in 2004 with a fantastic self-titled debut record and followed it up with an arguably better sophomore effort in Antikörper
, if with a bit of wear and tear from recycled ideas. However, the raw intensity on that 2006 effort seemed to be steadily drained from subsequent releases. Tracking their output became tiresome as each record was more forgettable than the last. The band became reliant on the verse-chorus-verse formula and compounded it with the cookie cutter rough verse/soaring chorus approach that has been popular amongst directionless rock acts since Slipknot popularized it.
While that downward trend has been true for three successive records, Eisbrecher
’s sixth effort does not entirely fall prey to it. The band is still not a viable alternative to the international monster that is Rammstein
, but they do seem to be trying again. The lead single off Schock, “Zwischen Uns”, succeeds in blending hard rock instrumentation with infectiously catchy singing. Nina de Lianin (of In Strict Confidence
)’s icy spoken delivery of her lyrics is an immaculate foil to vocalist Alexx Wesselsky’s feral growl. True to the Tanzmetal genre, the song is quite dance-able. And although it doesn’t really pop on first listen, “Schlachtbank” is a bloody ballad with a delightfully brutal take on the break up song.
The true highlight of the record, though, is the title track. The moment that stalking bass line ignites the noxious fumes of “1000 Narben”, the act of paying this band any attention after all these years suddenly doesn’t seem like wasted energy. The band’s menacing riffing evokes the efficient ruthlessness of the hunter as Wesselsky takes on the persona of a tycoon preying on the poor. The cover art of the pissed off arctic wolf becomes appropriate when previously it was comical. However, with the catchy exception of “Zwischen Uns”, the rest of the record simply isn’t memorable. It isn’t quite as vanilla as Die Hölle Muss Warten
, but that does not necessarily make it superior.
The songs that populated the self-titled record and Antikörper
were by no means masterstrokes, or golden examples of an exalted genre of music, but they did have character. Even at their most generic, they were energetic blast-it-in-your-car-and-scream-along tunes. However, with the transitionary Sünde
and the band expanding its membership from 2 to a full band, that charisma dulled and the band took to softening their lyrical content. The violence of “Phosphor” and “Angst"” has had a pacifier forced into its maw and has been housebroken into crooning about drifting through life and unrequited love (for the umpteenth time).
While this record has a bit of a sharper edge to it than its recent predecessors, it still falls into the trappings of pop rock, the place where, regrettably, Eisbrecher
have been entrenched. It is no surprise that the band continues to be commercially viable in Europe. The single, “Zwischen Uns”, topped out the German Alternative chart. Their ongoing commercial success has not resulted in increased creativity, but complacency in producing redundant bouncy tunes with growling guitars pasted on to the verses to appease Neue Deutsche Härte fans. And these tactics may be enough to please said fans, but for more discerning minds, this record simply does not do enough to reconnect with their earlier, harder edge or to commit to a new direction.
The band would like to evoke images of the arctic, given their name, but for the last few albums they have been confined to the tundra, too warm to be the gorgeous crown of the world and too cold to be somewhere someone would actually want to live.