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Everything the fans liked about the German folk rock pioneers Subway to Sally has gone with this album. There are no more creative and traditional lyrics. The amazing violins and pipers are almost inaudible on this record. There are no positive, catchy songs with addicting melodies anymore. It is an unexpected change in style and the band later decided to get back to their roots.
Subway to Sally delivers a dark, depressive and negative record here. They sing about the downfall of the Western civilisation, about wrong and bad leaders and dictators, about suicide and depression. The instruments sound like Industrial Metal in the key of the early albums of Rammstein. Only a few times, the violins adds a harmonic touch to a few songs like in the epic album closer "Abendland", easily the best song on this album along side with the charming and more traditional ballad "Verloren". The best examples for this completely new direction are songs like "Narben" with its disgusting lyrics about a desperate borderline girl or the aggressive single "Falscher Heiland" that could have been a song by the German rock band Böhse Onkelz.
The band tries something completely new here that doesn't sound like anything they have ever done before. Purist fans or people that expect a good folk rock album will be shocked but Industrial Metal fans may get a positive approach to this album. Personally, I have a lot of problems with Eric Fish's annoying and whining voice and the depressive world under lyrics and can't recommend this album. But at least, it is original.
You thought Subway to Sally was a folk metal band? Well, it used to be true... Until this album, Engelskrieger. I have to admit I had been rather disappointed the first time I spinned it – What the fuck, they sound now like fucking Rammstein! Actually and fortunately, it’s far from being true, but I’m ready to guess it’s the feeling most metalheads will get as soon as they listen to the first song, Geist des Kriegers: down-tuned guitars, bass-driven verses, distorted vocals (what an abomination, especially for a former folk metal band), electronics: now you’ve got it, this typical indus-nu-metal stuff. Even worse is the third song, Unsterblich: the basic Rammstein bass+electronics verses and, most awful, a bridge featuring screaming mallcore distorted vocals. What the hell was Subway to Sally thinking? Oh, and I forgot to mention the horrible album cover as well: the generic indus rock cover. Oh dear.
But actually... The first listen of this album had been a torture, the second went far better, and after the third I began to actually enjoy it. Granted, Unsterblich is definitely an abortion, but for the rest it might still sound like Rammstein, but excellent Rammstein anyway. Falscher Heiland is your typical mid-tempo radio-friendly track, but really hooking and featuring a most welcomed acoustic break which may really grow on you. And songs are indeed more complex that one could have thought at a first listen. Folk or original elements, while far less present than on any other STS album, including the last (Nord Nord Ost), are still punctually here. No, the violinist hadn’t been fired like you could have first thought, though she is present more than nominally only on a few songs like 2000 Meilen unterm Meer, the ballad Verloren or Abendland, the long and not very interesting closing track. No, they don’t have totally forgotten how to play their bagpipes: they punctually (and only) appear on Knochenschiff - an otherwise rather poor song featuring a really annoying chorus. No, they don’t have totally abandoned acoustic guitars, and can still show some imagination like in this little lullaby, Abendlied (not to be confused with Abendland), and its music-box melody.
But anyway, you have to take this album for what it is, some sometimes awful, sometimes good, mix between a folk band and a nu-metal one. You have to accept the electronics, the down-tuned guitars, the simplistic patterns (speaking of riffs on such an album is a real challenge) and the – fortunately rare – distorted vocals. Not all songs succeed in this rather dangerous little exercise. Several of them are saved by their catchy chorus, like Geist des Kriegers or 2000 Meilen unterm Meer, but when a band as to rely upon catchy choruses to prevent their songs from being total shit, it’s a good sign that something has definitely gone wrong. So again, I wonder what the motivations of the band could have been: achieve some easy success (if so, they failed, FORTUNATELY)? Make fun of their (not that huge) fanbase? Only wish to try something different? Well, we’ll admit it’s the last solution, as the following album will show us that no, Subway to Sally hasn’t sold out (though I still wonder how they could).
Highlights: Falscher Heiland, 2000 Meilen unterm Meer, Wolfstraum