Friday 22 May 2020

Die Kreatur - Panoptikum (2020)

Country: Germany
Style: NDH
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 22 May 2020
Sites: Facebook | Instagram | Official Website

While I've enjoyed Rammstein since the late nineties, I wasn't aware of the wider world of NDH until very recently. Last year, I discovered Oomph!, who technically created that genre back in 1994 with their second album, Sperm, so I was only a quarter of a century late to the party. Die Kreatur are new, so I'm in at the beginning this time, but the two key players, Dero Goi and Chris Harms, have been around the scene for a very long time.

Dero Goi is also the lead vocalist and drummer for Oomph! and, as with every other member of that band, he's been there since their founding in 1989. His musical partner here is Chris Harms, the lead vocalist and cellist in gothic metal band Lord of the Lost, a band that he founded in 2007 and has fronted every since. Both these bands are currently signed to Napalm Records, so it can't be too surprising to find this side project there too.

Now, I'm only one album into Oomph!'s back catalogue and I don't believe I'd heard any Lord of the Lost until I went wandering around YouTube today, so I can't remotely be sure here, but it seems to me that this album starts out a lot like Oomph! and gradually moves towards a Lord of the Lost sound. Maybe, when I come back to this review in ten years with better knowledge, I might have to Gibbs slap my younger self, but that's what I'm hearing now.

Early tracks, for instance, are often punchy and crushing, clearly NDM songs but with gothic piano and dark electronica, all driven by fast drum machine beats and eerie keyboard work. The best is surely Die Kreatur, appropriately for a song named for its band. I love the quiet parts as much as the heavy ones and there's a lot of variety within them that I like. Unzertrennlich is another stormer that erupts out of darkwave keyboards and beats, but it's a notch down on the crunchy metal guitar. Zwei 100% does much the same, which makes three out of the first five.

However, as the album runs on, the songs become a little less in your face, while retaining a similar mindset. Some, such as Mensch/Maschine, are highly regimented with slower, fixed tempos and fewer quirky moments. Others, like Was Mir am Wichtigsten Ist, which maybe tellingly translates to What is Most Important to Me, has quirky rhythms but still features much less in the way of crunchy metal. Untergang and Benutz Mich kind of fit here too, as they're mostly songs playing in this middle ground but which also amp up at points to pump metal.

In and amongst are songs that do something different and these grow towards the end of the album. Some lean more towards straight darkwave, eschewing a heavy approach for a keyboard-driven pop mentality with a strong beat. The first is early, Durch die Nacht, but Gott Verdammt and Goldener Reiter come at the end to wrap up the album. The other odd pair are Schlafes Braut and Gl├╝ck Auf!, which are almost folk ditties played darkwave. The former is a deliciously dark waltz with glorious bass notes and deep vocals, while the latter is more laid back and friendly.

However it's structured, it's a generous album, running almost an hour and, with a pair of bonus pop-oriented remixes, over an hour. I'm not quite sure if this mixture of sounds works as a coherent long term project, but it does sound good and the highlights are excellent. For now, I'm thinking that Die Kreatur are at once a combination of its leaders' main bands and a hesitant departure from them. Let's see if a second album takes a wilder leap.

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