The old adage “Never judge a book by its cover” holds firm here. Long story short, I picked Germany’s Ewigheim for review from our list of promos because a certain half-man, half-gorilla who shall forever remain nameless listed them as “black metal” due to the album cover, logo, and the fact that he glanced over the German one-sheet. Hankering for some kvlt blackness of the tr00est order, I grabbed their sixth full-length, Schlaflieder, and was met with… something totally not black metal. Not even remotely1. Rather, Ewigheim share the same gothic rock sensibilities (and members) of The Vision Bleak, only more morose and more German (translated: no English whatsoever).
But had the initial description by the Ape of Steel been accurate, I would have missed out on some good goth rock. “Schlaflied” opens with a shimmery guitar and lightly plinked keyboards, before Allen B. Konstanz croons somewhat seductively and mournfully to a comfortable mid-paced rhythm. Picture a slower The Vision Bleak or a sadder H.I.M. and you wouldn’t be too far off. Konstanz doesn’t veer too far from his baritone singing, staying in his comfort zone throughout the song and album, reminiscent of a German Fernando Ribeiro (Moonspell). His drumming, while not flashy, also does its job commendably, providing a solid backbone along with West’s bass playing. Not a bad song to lead off the album.
Ewigheim works best in one of two modes. Their more energetic numbers, such as “Himmelsleiter” and “Ein Stück Näher,” get your foot tapping and your goth-dance moves flowing. One the other New Rock boot-enclosed foot, when the band slows down considerably, such as on “Mondlied” and proper closer “…,” they channel moods that rival My Dying Bride‘s middle period. The big problem, however, is the fact that most of the songs stride on neither side of the goth rock fence, striving to remain balanced without playing to either side. In doing so, they end up sounding the same. The lack of riff and tempo variance doesn’t help matters whatsoever; guitarists Yantit and Markus Stock do little to spice things up a bit, save for the tremolo “lead” guitar near the end of “Dies ist der Preis.”
Speaking of Stock, he performs a commendable job producing Schlaflieder. The drums punch, the bass throbs audibly throughout, and the guitars don’t overpower everything. Konstanz, clearly the band’s focal point, remains clear and well-mixed on every song, driving the song forward. I just wish he put in a bit more variety and power in his vocals. Hell, I just wish the band added some heft and variance, as the album just felt like one or two long songs stuck together. Speaking of which, the final song, “Negativ,” took the most risks with the biggest amount of payoff. The sad thing is “Negativ” is listed as a bonus track for the digipak version.
Schlaflieder, given the mood, evokes visions of sadness and despair. But if you’re not in a fog or are feeling pretty good, the album comes across as musically safe and unmemorable. That said, there are a couple of strong tracks on Schlaflieder worth checking out. Just don’t expect the morose feelings to last throughout.