Fleischkrieg – Herzblut
Release Date: 05.11.21
Running Time: 39:30
Review by Dark Juan
I greet thee, my faithful ones. May you be blessed in everything you do and be delighted in everything from the opening of a spring flower to the frantic scramble of succeeding in your panic buying for the upcoming festive time and your ungrateful offspring. May you be blessed with the Sacred Gravy Jug of Valhalla (which is a real thing, just ask Kids In Cages’ Fin Davey, being as he and I are Brothers in this august arrangement) and also with the Hallowed Potent Bottle Of Spirits Granting Sweet Oblivion In The Mid-Afternoon. I mean I would be trolleyed right now as there is champers and whisky in the house and I am not in work, but I’m still feeling rough as a bird’s arse. Tis the season to be fucked up, clearly, and not in the way I would prefer to be either…
Still, there’s booze in the house which is always a bonus.
In the meantime, I have retired into the world of music because a) I haven’t written anything for almost three weeks, b) the Smellhounds are being more irritating than usual, and c) Mrs Dark Juan is watching a short man with an amusingly shaped head and even more hilarious haircut talk about building his own house and composting toilet. I happened to look up and the strange Hobbit like being was standing next to a small shed of his own scratch construction, and as I am not very well and not paying total attention, I asked Mrs Dark Juan whether that was his house.
Cue much laughter. Mrs Dark Juan has not yet stopped taking the piss out of me. Several hours have passed. I want a drink.
I am consoling myself with the latest album from Fleischkrieg (Fleshwar or Meatwar in jolly old German) who are surprisingly not from Germany. Neither are they Swiss, Austrian, or from that tiny part of Belgium that speaks German. Or from Liechtenstein (where they also speak Schweizerdeutsch). Fleischkrieg are American, and more specifically from Los Angeles, California and they play what they call brutalwave. I can detect Neue Deutsche Härte with a larger than normal electronic component, a smattering of Neue Deutsche Todeskunst, a nod towards the cinematics of the current synthwave explosion and English language lyrics. In fact, with the extremely production heavy values of the whole album, the effect is not unlike Rammstein, Megaherz, Eisbrecher and Oomph! forcing themselves on Garbage and Evanescence (two bands who share the same almost overly produced ideal. I’ll explain later). Otherwise, Fleischkreig share the same martial industrial ideal of pounding mid tempos (just right to march to), extremely thick and forward in the mix guitars underpinned by lots and lots of keyboards and electronics with the German NDH vanguard and then we have the schizophrenic vocal stylings of Der Eismann himself, Richard Cranor, a man who, according to the EMQs segment he was a part of in 2020 does not know what a Jaffa Cake is. The shame, Richard. The unrelenting shame… (https://www.ever-metal.com/wp-content/2021/08/20/emqs-with-fleischkrieg/ should you choose to peruse it)
“If Hell hosted a dance party – Fleischkrieg would be the headliner.”
Bold claim from your own blurb, gentlemen and lady. Let us see whether it holds any water, or whether or not I’m going to have to be unkind to you all.
So what do you get for your hard-earned? You get 11 tracks of punishing, super heavy gothic industrial, in the highly polished, highly produced American style. The record opens with a haunting gothic electronic intro and a very polite guten tag, before launching into waves of building industrial electronics from Kaylie Cortez (Nuda) on ‘Doros’, until the guitar of Thomas Crawford (Ceraphym) crunches in. His sound is extremely heavily produced and is meaty as fuck, mate. The drums of Nick Mason (Living Dead Drummer, also, no. Not that one) are rather further back in the mix than I would like, whereas his cymbals are far too far forward for my august tastes. When I say the sound of the vocals are somewhat schizophrenic, ‘Brawler’ is a classic example. Richard starts off with all lascivious, mirror shaded, sinuous Andrew Eldritch inspired baritone crooning, before switching to visceral, sweat and adrenaline fuelled mid-pitched roaring. On my first listen I found it jarring as fuck but as I got used to it on repeated spins, I found that it fitted the music rather well and added a rather human quality to a very technology driven record, which could have become a very very robotic record quite easily. The rawness of the vocal adds to the experience and gives the record depth and interest. Richard’s voice reminds me on occasion of Andy LaPlegua, when he’s doing his Panzer AG and Icon Of Coil stuff rather than Combichrist. ‘Parasite’ melds speedy metal drumming, shimmering keyboards and some seriously choppy riffing. In fact, the drumming on the record is a pretty neat amalgam of nu-metal and industrial technique, and to be fair the more I listen the more I become beguiled. ‘Owllight’ switches between baritone muttering, shouting, and impassioned howling over supremely heavy guitars and the kind of power noise that Combichrist employ to such devastating effect.
To explain the production values – everything is so heavily produced it sounds artificial. This is not really a demerit for this style of metal though. This is what it shares with Garbage (the band, not actual rubbish), and Evanescence’s first album – their music was never an organic sounding beast. Everything was produced to the nth degree, down to individual cymbal strikes, the guitar sound sequenced to within an inch of its life, and the only truly human sounding element being the voice. It is the same with Fleischkrieg on “Herzblut”. Again I will point out that this is not necessarily a criticism, because if you’re doing a Metal /Gothic Industrial/ Electronic Industrial/ Synthwave chimera it HAS to sound machinelike and precise.
Hey, Fleischkrieg! Maschinenklang would be a better descriptor for your style of music! Just thought I’d tell you. You can thank me later!
I have to mention that there is a cover version here, too. I’m not telling you what it is, but it is a bit of a belter, as long as you have a sense of fun, and turns a gay anthem right on it’s head.
Everything about Fleischkrieg warms my twisted little black heart. This album, man. It has power, it has feeling, it has that indefinable je ne sais quoi that changes a great band into a superb one. It has a subtle sense of humour running throughout it, an engaging and amusing frontman and it melds two of my favourite forms of extreme music to devastating effect. It will be blowing the fuck out of the speakers in the Schweres Gothikpanzer on the way to work on Saturday!
I think I’m in love.
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System is being a picky bastard tonight. It awards these American Industrial madheads 9/10, deducting one mark for a production job that has put the drums too far in the mix. Otherwise, a magnificent beastie and one that will be being played to death. I’ll be humming this fucker in my grave.
04. Bloody Prophets
08. Gib Mir Deine Herzblut
09. Saunting Eyes
10. Fool’s Folly
Richard “Der Eismann” Cranor – Vocals
Thomas “Ceraphym” Crawford – Guitars
Kaylie “Nuda” Cortez – Synths
Nick “Living Dead Drummer” Mason – Drums. No, not THAT Nick Mason. No, he doesn’t play for Saucerful Of Secrets or Pink Floyd.
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