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So Subway to Sally presented this song at the February 2008 Bundesvision Song Contest... and won. By one point, and the close second was a rapper. Alright, we all know since these Finnish hard-rock freaks from Lordi won the Eurovision Song contest two years ago that nowadays heavy music (in the widest acceptable meaning) definitely has a chance at this sort of events, however, some will only see that as a further mark of the steady decline of the German act. They might be right, who knows, I won’t fuel the debate.
Granted, I’ll admit Auf Kiel is one of my favourite tracks on the Bastard album but, as with the band’s previous single Sieben, it’s more for its irresistible catchiness than its intrinsic musical qualities. Indeed, if there had to be a single, this was the song to pick up – either this, or Tanz auf dem Vulkan. It’s a very rocking mid-tempo tune with an undeniable folk touch, even if it’s actually just as folk as nowadays Subway to Sally can be, what isn’t saying much. And you know, by lending an attentive ear you can even almost distinguish the violin... There’s of course a bit too much emphasis on the rhythmic section, bass and drums, and the guitars aren’t too noticeable, but at least they’re not plaguing the song with orchestrations as they sometimes do now. Overall it still reeks less of commercialism than Sieben, Eric Fish’s medium-ranged, slightly melancholic vocals are as fitting as usual, and after fifteen years of existence the band eventually managed to come out with a GOOD cover art, so complaining too much would be dishonest. Oh, and did I mentioned the amusing video clip with Lego characters?
Coming to the B-sides now, there isn’t much to say other than... well, they’re B-sides. Putting a second track from the same full-length album is always a questionable choice, all the more than Umbra is one of the weakest there – the typical slow, pedestrian modern days StS song with pompous chorus and insipid orchestral sauce. They for sure didn’t run the risk of overpowering Auf Kiel with that one, and a couple of live tracks would probably have worked far better (but what are we bitching about? At least they’re no longer doing remixes with Twiggy Ramirez). Stimmen is a tad more interesting, as it is a previously unreleased track. It starts with a nice violin tune (ah! finally!), then what follows is pretty standard: voice-driven verses with only a few elemental chords in the background, a once again addictive chorus, and the predictable acoustic break. Eric Fish’s voice once again does wonders on this one, sufficing to lift the song over the rest of nowadays pop metal to eventually amount to a perfectly decent B-side, if nothing more.
All in all this single would certainly have remained as anecdotic in the band’s discography as the album it’s issued from, weren’t there the short moment of fame it achieved at the beginning of this year. This alone would have warranted a review, wouldn’t it?