Stahlsarg - Comrades in Death 01I have to give respect where it’s due. Upon reading the bio sheet that came with Stahlsarg‘s debut album, Comrades in Death, I discovered that the British band already has their own beer out. I wish more bands would just cut out the middle-man and get right to brewing my favorite beverage. Also, they have shirts, coffee mugs, and even tote bags from a single glance of their webstore. All of this done without a single release! If nothing else, Stahlsarg knew to take a page from Cradle of Filth when it comes to marketing and promotion. That’s all fine and dandy, as there are far worse ways to fund your hobby or passion. But how do they sound and, more importantly, are they any good?

Well, the good news is that there’s nothing truly bad on Comrades in Death, but the majority of the record is frustratingly average. A great example of this can be found in opening track “Razed to the Ground.” It starts off promisingly enough, with some early Behemoth-esque tremolo riffing by guitarists Krieg and Eissturm and some straight-forward drumming by Eisenfaust. Speaking of Eissturm, his vocals are… unique. Yeah, let’s go with that word, because his growls are quite guttural and his blackened rasp is pretty cool, but when he goes into a banshee wail, it sounds absolutely quirky and out-of-place. Not completely off-putting, but still throws you out a bit with repeated listens. The biggest problem is the sheer amount of changing riffs in this one five-minute song, as nothing really stays to build and grow. It goes from tremolo-riffy goodness to mid-paced chug to a different speed-blast, etc. without giving the song a chance to plant and take root.

Stahlsarg - Comrades in Death 02And it’s such a damn shame because there are flashes of brilliance on here. “Damocles XIII,” their longest song at almost eight minutes, has some really damn good atmospheric passages once the band allows them to gestate. “Seelow Heights” has a great melodic passage near the beginning by bassist Destruction. “Castle Wewelsburg,” the song playing in the background in the above beer-brewing link, is so face-meltingly fun and frenetic and hints of what’s to come in the future for these guys. But the awesome parts are sandwiched between a bunch of songs that epitomize mediocrity and complacency, and that’s damning because these guys are already flashing glimpses of what they’re truly capable of.

Danny B. Takoma (CriminalNapalm Death) did a good job producing Comrades in Death, making the guitars just trebly enough to give an icy sheen, and even giving the bass the chance to stand out between the guitars and drums. But there’s a lot of work to be had with the songwriting, as more could be said with a lot less. Also, Eissturm should ease up on the shrieking, as it pushes the listener out of the warzones that Stahlsarg are trying to create.

For as negative as this review comes across, these guys show serious potential. They just exhibited some typical mistakes most bands accomplish on their debut albums. I’m curious as to see how their next record plays out, as they’re on to greater things. Just focus on those first before brewing your next batch.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Mighty Music
Websites: |
Release Dates: EU: 2015.10.23 | NA: 10.30.2015

  • Martin Knap

    God, the monikers, so tacky…

    • SuperCareful

      I think that’s typically Black Metal though, isn’t it? As are the more high-pitched vocals.

      • Martin Knap

        Their name means “Iron Coffin” in German, ok. If one has a monicker like some character out of Castle Wolfenstein, that’s fine too. But does everything need to sound like that? :-)

  • madhare

    “We need be more… like… you know… like… wicked.”

    “Yeah, mate, but how do we do that?”

    “Well… we could just use German language, because… that’s like… I’ve been reading the Sun, you know, and they only mention the Germans when it’s about NAZI HORROR WW2 REMEMBER OUR HERO VETERANS SECRET SS LOOT IN BACKYARD BLITZ BOOBS. So German must be like… you know… wicked.”

    “That’s bloody brill, mate!”

    Note for future bands: Exoticizing other people’s cultures and using them because you think that they’re, like, rad, is not really a good idea. Especially when:
    a) You choose a cliché that has been done to death.
    b) That culture is one of your big possible market areas (roughly 100 million people), and what you think is “rad” won’t distinguish your band from the local fledgling bands there in any way.

    • basenjibrian

      One of the bands out there w/r/t this is the Russian band Kauan. I love their music…they’ve been listening to Tenhi quite a bit and I love Tenhi when in that mood. But these guys are from a thousand + miles away from the Finnish border. Why are they singing only in Finnish?

      • madhare

        Just gave them a quick listen on bandcamp. Sounds pretty cool, definitely have to give them few spins. Thanks for the tip!

        Like I said in my reply to PanzerFistDominatrix, I don’t think using a certain language is in itself bad. Different languages have a different sound/feeling to them, and I totally understand that this might appeal to musicians.

        Like Therion uses the different sounds of languages nicely on Secret of the Runes. They use three germanic & semi-germanic languages (Ger, Swe, Eng) to give the impression of the separate worlds of Nordic mythology.

        Finnish is part of Finno-Ugric language group, also known as Uralic languages, which are also spoken quite deep in Russia (as minority languages). So the connection isn’t actually that far fetched. I don’t know whether this has influenced this particular band though.

        Of course, in addition to linguistics, Finland and Russia also have long historical, political, and cultural connections. Like, if I remember correctly, some of the excellent sadness in Finnish metal might partly be because Finns acquired a taste for the Slavic romantic tradition of melancholic music and adopted it to their own culture.

    • PanzerFistDominatrix

      And that goes for any and all non-British/American English-singing band too?

      I mean, I totally agree with you on these guys, you’d be hard pressed to be less original. And when the best German stage name you can come up with is ‘Krieg’ you’re either stupid or didn’t even try…

      I still had to make the above point though :-)

      • madhare

        I think you slightly misunderstood my point. The problem here isn’t the language.

        I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with using some other than your native language. Singing in English is usually just a marketing decision, and it totally works.

        The problem is that they are resorting to national stereotypes. You know, all American are stupid and obese. Italians wave their hands and are hopeless sleazy gigolos. British are completely asexual weirdos eating grey boiled meat. And Germans are evil Nazis. And those stereotypes are often extended to their languages as well, as is the case here. (Of course, they refer to Nazi Germany is lot of way here, not just the language.)

        Of course, lot of metal (like all popular culture) plays with clichés and stereotypes. These guys are not the first ones to do so. But it can be done so much better. This Germans = Nazism connection is something that belongs to 1980s adventure comics for young boys.

        I just think they do it badly. So, just like you said, either they are stupid or lazy.

        • PanzerFistDominatrix

          Point taken, I get you.

          However, I do feel totally discriminated – Where’s my national sterotype on your list? I’m Danish, I would love to hear if my tiny country is even known enough to be stereotyped… :-)

          • madhare

            :D Good question.

            Danes are all somehow middle of everything. Sort of soft and mellow and liberal and nice cuddly social democratic. Like Netherlands, but without the charisma of tulips, channels, cycling, cannabis, etc. Like Fennoscandic countries (No, Swe, Fi), but without the edginess and darkness.

            So I guess your negative stereotype is that you are just really, really, really boring. It’s like you’re the most anti-metal country in Europe. …or at least the second right after the French. (If we judge things by their stereotypes, as the French are supposedly arrogant and pretentious artsy dandies.) :D

            Although I bet your neighbouring countries would have much more interesting things to say about you…

          • PanzerFistDominatrix

            Hahahaha, “…like the Netherlands without the charisma of Tulips…” – I love it!

            Thanks, you cheered up some otherwise boring(!) office hours.

            To the Swedes, here’s some dark edginesss for ya (see pic):

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Grift just released some tote bags…

  • Prostidude

    Your Highness also brew their own beer. They’re Belgian so you can bet your grandma’s niples their beer is tastier and more potent.