ARTIST: Hanzel und Gretyl
Given Hanzel und Gretyl co-founder Vas Kallas' interests in astrology and alien contact, the band's latest release is a lot less heady and conceptual than you might expect from an album named after the projected end of the world according to certain Mayan prophecies. Musically and conceptually, Kallas and partner Kaizer von Loopy depart from the epic themes and classical bombast of 2004's Scheissmessiah, instead stripping down their toolkit to a standard rock kit and some favorite samples, then using that simplified palette to pump out 13 tracks of their crowd-pleasing Teutonic space metal. The group's over-the-top take on German imagery is very much in evidence on such tracks as "Lederhozen Macht Frei" and "Bavarian Beerhauz Blood," and they're not above poking fun at themselves, either. For all the fist-pumping bravado of "Number 1 in Deutschland," it's a reminder that this American band's music is still banned in Germany due to their use of samples from History Channel documentaries about World War II. One doesn't imagine that changing any time soon, especially after German censors hear the Speak 'n' Spell-driven "Heil Hizzle Mein Nizzle," which, without the humorous context in which it is intended, could easily manage to offend not only Germans but also gangster rappers and toy collectors. Musically speaking, this is indisputably Hanzel und Gretyl's heaviest offering yet. With drummer Jon Ostermann now a full-fledged member of the band, the programmed rhythms and funky breaks are largely a thing of the past, replaced with industrial-strength blast beats. The starring role now goes to Vas Kallas' increasingly androgynous bellows and the omnipresent thrash metal guitars; with the exception of the funky but martial "Das Boot" or the slower, moodier "Totenhead," the synthesizers -- not to mention plenty of sampled sirens, cheering crowd samples, and occasional opera loops -- serve as added color, but remove them and you'd still have a solid album of head-banging metal anthems. While fans of the group's early work might be surprised at the change in direction Hanzel und Gretyl have taken over the past few years, this album's less eclectic approach lets them focus on their own unique vision. With songs like "Fukken Uber Death Party," they've declared war on humorless, overly serious industrial music. Who are you to resist? Much better to raise your steins and join in the party.
Enter Hanzel und Gretyl's blood-soaked Bavarian beer hall at www.hanzelundgretyl.com.
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