The sweet perfume of a hemlock

-- Eisregen --

David Hardy

Album genres:
extreme metal
morbid metal
Dark metal
Album artists:
Michael Roth Vocal
Michael Stock Bass, Lead Guitar
Frau N. Feind Violin
Yantit Drums, Lead- and Rhythm Guitars, Programming

Review written by David Hardy.


A review that is a bit out of the ordinary for me! First of all because, as you may know, I'm not a fan of extreme metal, and this is brutal; I'm not a fan of dark stuff, and this is macabre; they don't sing in English but in German; this is not their first album but their 17th; and this is not a simple EP or album, but a double CD with a total of 17 tracks! The first one who tells me that I stay in my comfort zone and only propose "easy" will get a good old mawashi-geri version of Robert Garcia in the face (those who have the reference can put it in comment on our Belgian Metal Shredder Facebook page, it will please me)!

Note also that this band is a little bit the thesis and the anti-thesis at the same time! Several times their material got banned and censored (especially in their own home country), but they did manage to rank in the best album sales ... it seems that on one side the listeners and professionals say that it's good, but ... that the protectors of the chaste ears would like them not to exist ! It is a little in this schizophrenic spirit that we live too you will say to me but good, ...

Well, is it lard or pig?

Clearly, and even if the country of origin is the same as "Scorpions," the voice of Michael Roth is absolutely not in the same register as that of Klaus Meine... but then, not at all! Here, it's guttural and deep. One could almost feel the mustard sausages eaten in the morning with the 3 raw eggs and washed through with half a liter of beer.

What's really good about this double album is that even if you don't understand German... which also applies to me since I'm quite a language buff, you can enjoy listening to it because the interpretation and the German language fits perfectly to the style. After the "Vorposten" intro that sets the story and explains (I think) the cover of the album, the first track "Grenzgänger" is exactly what we expect from an excellent title of beginning of album. It starts off perfectly after the intro, it's catchy, the construction gives a total strength to the title, the cover of the mermaid is totally in the idea of the intro and on top of that they grace us with something quite rare: harpsichord in death metal... I'd say yes to sir! Maybe a small reproach: the moments a little syncopped behind are a bit too frequent on this first track which annoys me a little personally.

With "In Einzelteilen" we are clearly in death metal territory with a double growl guiding us around. Then at certain moments a small full voice makes its appearance and it serves as a small break which relieves things a little and would almost be like a weekend of relaxation in an aquatic center but I reassure you, the very dark atmosphere never leaves very far and the song's final part is of any beauty (just like its taken).

"Für den Kaiser" at the beginning we wonder if we haven't switched albums, but no, I reassure you, it's just that they are based on the famous "Ave Caesar morituri te salutant" of the Roman games, and therefore they speak to the crowd. ... A rich idea, but unfortunately we do not find enough of that in this song, I would've liked to hear the crowd more often. Indeed, playing with this power could have given more punch at the desired moments. 

"Als ich noch Kinder fraB" death metal, death metal and death metal! The drums are at full blast, the riffs are small dissonant and throbbing... there's no doubt, it's not "the duck dance". At 2:22 small break drums to the Bolero of Ravel carrying the small wink for all in a rather visible way. I like it when we allow ourselves little winks!
"Wiedergänger (album edit)" perfect complementarity with the backing vocals. and my favorite track of the album, even if the beginning is a little too 90s "pop" for me.
In a very different style is "Auf Galgengrund" which really pleases me and, despite this track being placed at the spot often used for the fillers (the middle part of course) this is one mid-album track that doesn't bore at all!

"Gegengift" is a very intelligent track because it takes cues from metal subgenres as a form of melodic generosity because of the guitar riffs and rhythms which goes out a little from the traditional death metal. At this part of the album it's a very smart move to include something more diverse like this track because it cleans the ears and makes the listening "lighter."
"Strip lächelnd 2023" is the small track ending the first album's cd, quite anecdotal but in the pure extreme style ... 1 minute of release.

The second cd starts with "Kadaverfrühling" ... without having had any German classes at school, "Kadaver" does not make me think of many other words than corpse, which clearly makes a good cement with the theme. It is also the first track where we hear a full male voice in the foreground to counterbalance that of Roth the guttural.

If you're looking for a track that can be easily picked up in any language, it will be "Herbstleiche", which... will inevitably echo "Du, du hast mich" with their "Du, nur du Du ganz allein". After a very gloomy and distorted beginning, Michael Roth's serial killer voice, round and insidious at the same time, cutting like a British steel, does the job to make you feel everything and more in the interpretation. This low tempo, these violins, it's an awesome track!

"Rigor mortis" which ends the second album is passable for me, not to say that it isn't any good, but there are already so many good tracks in these albums that, unfortunately, this last one does not give me more goosebumps than a Grenzgäner for example.

Final blossom

An album, sorry a double album which passes like small milk... a beer with a well dosed bitterness, full-bodied but with small touches of spices which make the whole thing pass very easily and allows to ask for again and again.

At the level of the "work underneath the hood" it's super clean! The effects are well chosen, the compression does not kill any dynamics, the elements are very well arranged in space, it is readable from top to bottom and does not tire the ears! Very good work! When it's good, it's also necessary to mention it for the record: thus bravo to the studio: "Klangschmiede Studio E."

You'll probably have understood it by now but, even if I'm not quite such an affectionado of this style of metal... I really liked this double album. And here are the reasons why!
1) Michael Roth... in all his interventions and in all the styles, he's a vocalist who makes his lyrics truly come alive! Sure, he's not a Pavarotti, we agree, but in what he does and especially when he whispers (as in songs like "Die Frau im turm" or "Herbstleiche") he really has the voice to give us the right sense of uneasiness! I love it!
2) The use of "out of context" instruments like the violin (their trademark instrument) but also the harpsichord or the piano, which, if you pay attention, gives the proof that there is a real melody and construction to be found here.
3) Speaking of melodic construction, I'm sure that at least 85% of the tracks on the album could be rearranged in other more "conventional" styles to make it sound great live on stage because it always remains apparent that there's something worked behind it all.
4) You don't get bored of the whole double album. A feat that already isn't easy to pull off for an album of 8-9 tracks and Eisregen managed to do it for a double of 17! A real achievement that's only possible when you know how to play on several musical boards and mix them with each other with great mastery.
5) They sing in German, a perfect language for their musical style... I am sure that in English it wouldn't sound or feel just as good.
6) They don't overdo it! Many would be tempted to solo for the demonstration to "spice things up", but here I think it would've been inappropriate. And everyone plays with the same goal: to give the track a certain mood and a specific style ... to get the message across, a priority they managed to maintain above any possible egos that were present during the production. I'd say great work, gentlemen!

Looking on Spotify I'm surprised to have for once at least one of the tracks in top listening with "Wiedergänger", the most listened to track is the entry track: "Grenzgänger" that I had liked but not as much as "Herbstleiche" which gives a greater freedom of interpretation to "Blutkehie" Roth.

Well then, what else can I say? I like Eisregen's Grenzgänger hell of a lot! Because they're exactly where they should be when they should be! Let me explain: death metal, black metal or anything macabre in general can often neglect musicality or emotion, whereas these guys, while keeping solid lyrics and a very dark intention, manage to draw from different subgenres of metal to avoid falling into the traps of their main subgenre. I think that this double album is really good and deserves to be listened to by as many people as possible, even those who are not used to this particular style! They would almost be able to make me change my mind about this style and that's quite the thing to say!

The question I was asking myself was: did the sound engineer ask for a supplement to treat the song considering the number of plausives ("P and B") and siflantes ("S" and "FS") in the German language? (humor) (the sound engineers are your friends, don't abuse them anyway!)

The sentence

A good 8.4! Really good, intelligently put-together and beautifully interpreted! Eisregen's new "Grenzgänger" album takes the darkness and morbidity of extreme metal and presents it with genuine mastery and class. Even if extreme metal isn't your thing (like it was for me) then I still recommend you to check this gem out!

A small remark for our nice "little blonde heads" who take German at school: If you don't want to end up with an appointment at the psycho-medical-social center of your school, avoid taking one of their titles for the next essay in German class! ... I'm saying that ... I'm not saying anything but hey, ... there you go, you'll be warned!