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Stahlhammer - Eisenherz (7,5/10) - Austria - 2002

Austrian Industrial Metal quartet STAHLHAMMER are here with their fourth album titled "Eisenherz" (Iron Heart). Complete with heavy, up-front guitar work, supporting keyboard and electronic effects, as well as German lyrics, it seems that STAHLHAMMER have taken a large amount of their influence from one of the most well-known bands of this genre: RAMMSTEIN. Though I could not help but be struck by the resemblance between these two bands as I began listening to "Eisenherz", this resemblance unfortunately nearly turned into cloning by the time the record reached its completion. However, the fact that STAHLHAMMER could be mistaken for RAMMSTEIN is the only real flaw on this otherwise solid release.

As the opening vocal passage to "Und Ich Bring Dir Die Hölle" (And I Bring You Hell) introduces the listener to STAHLHAMMER's sound, the words then make room for the song's main riff that, thanks to the excellent production, crunches and chugs along very nicely. The song is mid-paced and besides being nothing that you have never heard before from this genre, is quite enjoyable as an opening track. The following serving "Marylin" then starts of on a more electronic note as the keyboards form an appropriate background for a very funk-inspired bass solo. The remainder of the song then continues in a typical fashion, save for the female vocals used to replicate the voice of the late Marylin Monroe. Why they decided to pay homage to Monroe, only the band knows. The title-track then begins with some very atmospheric, carnival-like keyboards, which then give way to a vocal passage that carries on until the guitars finally make their entrance. Thanks to the chorus, as well as the effectiveness of the electronic effects, this song can (and should) be perceived as one of the better on "Eisenherz". "Für Immer" (Always) then picks up the pace with a somewhat marching riff that carries the song. Though merely decent, the song's memorable chorus thankfully manages to salvage this track from mediocrity.

Catchiness, as well as an emphasis on electronics then spells success for "Eisbär" (Polar Bear), while "Bis In Alle Ewigkeit" (Into All Eternity) delivers a metallic ballad whose straightforwardness sees STAHLHAMMER playing in a much more traditional, though less experimental way. The remaining tracks then range from straight forward ["Träum Von Mir" (Dream About Me), "Krieg Ist Eine Droge" (War is a Drug)] to almost gothic ["Kein Priester" (No Priest)], while "Grabesnacht" (Grave Night) works as a spoken interlude leading into the excellent "Süsses Leid" (Sweet Wrong). Throw in an English version of the opening track ["Hölle" (Hell)] as well as a video for the title-track, and you are left with a surprisingly varied (though not completely original) serving of high-quality songs.

While I normally would not listen to this type of Metal, STAHLHAMMER have succeeded in opening my eyes to the quality of music apparent in this genre. Though "Eisenherz" rarely falters, deductions must be made for the RAMMSTEIN resemblance, if not for anything else. If you are able to look past the similarities between these two bands, you will definitely find something to enjoy on this album. With such a high level of quality on this release, I am not at all worried that STAHLHAMMER will eventually create a sound that they can proudly call their own. Well done!