Die Hässlichen Kinder

Written by: PP on 23/11/2009 22:18:44

The promo material says Schelmish have been around since 1999, and their new album "Die Hässlichen Kinder" (The Ugly Children) is their ninth studio album. I believe I'm not alone when I say "who?", but I guess the band has never caught on outside the Germany / Austria / Switzerland area because all their texts are in German, heavily limiting what non-German speaking public can get out of the band. That's a shame, there are more than a couple of tracks on the record which suggest that the band could be way bigger if they sung in English instead. Why is that? Because their specialty is bagpipe-driven rock/punk, you know the kind of stuff that instigates dance-parties whenever it's played live, helped by the additional instruments like shawm, cittern, bouzouki, dahol drums and keyboard/synth.

The promo material also likes to repeatedly point out that Schelmish are a bagpipe punk band, but aside from a few tracks, these guys have about as much in common with the Boston-based bagpipe punk bands like Dropkick Murphys as Volbeat has with real metal or punk. Sure, "Boulevard" has a bright melody and a punk-ish lead hook, but it sounds more like Volbeat if they were German than the cheerful bands normally associated with bagpipe punk. Nevertheless it's quite catchy, and together with the title track and especially "For The Clansmen", it leads the album forward with excellent guitar hooks supporting the bagpipes. The result is a bright, happy and grabbing party-sound with melodies that shouldn't leave anyone standing still on the dance floor.

Only if all tracks were like that.....

For the most part, Schelmish songs stroll by at a medium tempo sharing more similarities to medieval rock bands than punk bands, instead placing the listener on the stands of a medieval tournament, just without pop corn cause it hasn't been invented yet. A great example of the mediocrity that plagues this record can be found on the horrid opening track "Bist Du Bereit", which sounds like a softer version of Rammstein except with pianos and bagpipes in the mix. Bagpipes and industrial sound just don't go very well together, believe me. "1212" is another example of what Schelmish shouldn't be doing: the mood carries a dark hue and generally the band lean more towards metal than rock or punk here. This is also the key reason, other than the language barrier, why Schelmish aren't scoring higher marks in this review. For every party-starter, the band has inexplicably included a generic 'German dark/gothic'-feeling song, or something worse, such as the bagpipe lead industrial rave track "Goresh". No, it doesn't sound any better than the description. The contrast in mood and atmosphere between that and, say, the ska-ish "Sommer" is far too vast for both songs to be on the same album. That being said, I'm sure the German audiences will eat this up, and if the band are at all smart while selecting their setlist, they'll pick-and-mix the danceable bagpipe tracks over songs like "Strangers".


Download: Boulevard, Die Hässlichen Kinder, For The Clansmen
For the fans of: Volbeat, Saltatio Mortis, Subway To Sally
Listen: Myspace

Release date 30.10.2009
Napalm Records

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