Written by: LL on 05/01/2018 20:22:21

One of the really good records that came out in 2017 managed to escape our attention when it was released all the way back in January. The Danish alternative rock band Kellermensch put out their solid sophomore effort "Goliath", following up on their self-titled debut from all of six years ago. The album name signifies the album as a challenge for the band, a thing they have somehow overcome through several struggles both internally and with their label. And now, almost a year later and several months after their stellar performance at Roskilde Festival 2017, I have finally gotten around to giving this album some needed deep listens and it definitely stands up under scrutiny.

Their desperate and introspective lyrics channeling Dostoyevsky's 'kellermensch' are as brutal as ever and the bass-heavy music constantly supports this dark emotional expression, making even the serene string arrangements seem like sounds of despair instead of hope in most places. Even though the first lines of the steadfast opener "Bad Sign" are "Out of the darkness something has to grow / Just like a flower that was a seed, you know", the vibe is heavy and vocalist Sebastian Wolff is soon reeling under the downwards slope of the words "I'm free" that end the song's chorus. From there, it feels like we're sitting in a hole, looking out at the world through disillusioned eyes while the pains of the tormented soul are being laid out plainly before us with the help of distorted guitars, moody strings, and not least heavy bass lines and relentless drum figures.

Especially "Atheist In A Foxhole" makes a strong impression with its eerie organ-sounding beginning and its off-beat melodies that seem to wrap coldly around the spine throughout. The same style of building up from scratch to a more orchestral ending is repeated later on the haunting and atmospheric "Lost At Sea", which is another one of my favorites here. Probably the most recognizable song of the album is "Mediocre Man" and although its lyrics are a little odd in their simplicity, the heavy beat and odd clinks here and there along with the excellent build-up of the orchestral ending makes it really stand out. It also opens up the middle part of the album a bit in terms of sound and is followed by a couple of almost-but-not-quite-positive-sounding songs in the midst of all the obvious despair. Especially worth mentioning is the recognizable and slow-paced "Remainder" that almost waltzes by us until it, of course, heads into the dark again with the appearance of Christian Sindermann's guttural screams.

Later songs change up the band's style a little bit, not least the fully distorted sound of "Moth" that has screamed vocals throughout. And finally, out of all the bleakness, the acoustic "How To Get By" appears with a few phrases that signify a twisted kind of hope: "You'll know that when you fall / That when you're tired of living / It's best to be afraid to die / So for now that's how I'll get by". On that note, we're back to where we started with how something has to grow, even out of this soul-crushing darkness. The thematic expression of both the darkness and the first hints of a way to deal with it are what makes this album a haunting listen, not least the first time you hear it. While the songs do vary in appeal, at least to me, the album still feels rounded and very tightly put together nonetheless, and there's no doubt that everyone, not least Danes, that are into soul-searching or rock and metal should be giving this album at least a few spins if they have not already done so.


Download: Atheist In A Foxhole, Lost At Sea, Mediocre Man, Bad Sign
For The Fans Of: Tom Waits, Get Your Gun, Sort Sol

Release date 27.01.2017
Persona Non Grata Records/Universal Music

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