Onkel Tom’s new album H.E.L.D. will be released on September 19, 2014 in Germany and on September 22, 2014 in Europe. It will be released in three formats:
1. Standard Edition Jewel case CD
2. Limited Digipack CD
3. Limited Double LP White Vinyl
4. Limited Double LP Blue Vinyl
Honestly, it is not easy to review an Onkel Tom album after the mighty release “Nunc est Bibendum” (NEB) which stands as the magnum opus of the band. Therefore, my review of H.E.L.D. will be inevitably overshadowed by and compared to this awesome album.
Held means hero in German but here it is also an abbreviation of Hart, Ehrlich, Laut, Durstig – Hard, Honest, Loud, Thirsty. There couldn’t be any other four words to describe the album better. The cover depicts the “hero” as an educated guy living in shit. In general terms, the sound is rawer than NEB. On the other hand, it is slower and less thrashy. The overall tempo is lower but the songs are very catchy. It exponentially improves on further listenings. You will want to listen to it over and over again – which I’ve been doing for two days now.
It is equally difficult to define Onkel Tom’s music. It is, and could be, called thrash metal, punk metal, party metal, schlager metal, etc. Yet, in each OT album there is a special characteristic. For example, NEB was definitely a thrash/punk album thriving on speed and melody. H.E.L.D., in this regard, could rather be called hard rock/punk. I guess this difference says a lot for what you might expect. The songs are not based on thrash riffs as much as they were on NEB. The infrastructure is hard rock to a great extent. Another point is that the album has a fluctuating nature with constant ups and downs. You will see what I mean when you listen to “Auf Gedeih und Verderb” and “Ich bin noch am Leben” one after another.
Do not get me wrong and think that the album is slow and untypical of Onkel Tom. He has many different kinds of songs in his discography. As I said, these details are all in comparison to NEB and remember that all OT albums differ from each other more than Sodom albums do.
Below you can find a detailed song-by-song analysis of the album. It would be a good idea to get the limited edition of this album not to miss the last two beautiful tracks.
01. Flatus Antelucanus
An intro played with fart effects in a harmony with popping bottle sound. Too much exposure could induce unintentional bowel movement.
02. Prolligkeit ist keine Schande
Double bass based thrash song. Nice bass solo in the middle followed by a guitar lead. It gets you in the mood for some, so it’s a good choice for an opener.
03. Zu Wahr, um schön zu sein
Mid tempo song a la “Format C” in NEB. More like a hard rock song except for the harsh vocals. Definitely strong and firm.
04. Ein bisschen Alkohol
One of the catchiest songs on the album. Sounds like it was recorded in Hofbräuhaus, München. Onkel Tom played this song live at Wacken Open Air 2014. Due to the simplicity of the lyrics, the song is very easy to sing along even for those whose German is too bad, like me. The chorus part sounds as if a whole stadium is singing along and it makes you do the same.
05. Am Morgen Danach
A ballad like you would never expect from Onkel Tom. It reminded me of ballads and down tempo songs of Skyclad – only this one is in German. Placed in a nice spot, the song serves as a kind of breather among faster ones.
06. Was Euch nicht passt
One of my favourites in the album. The guitarwork is really nice and the song has a very catchy and melodic main lead. You just can’t stop listening to this one.
07. Vom Paradies gen Süden
Another catchy down-tempo song which has an acoustic partition towards the end.
08. Wer nach dem Lied noch stehen kann…
Super song with nice double basses and a lead melody. You’ll like this one for sure.
09. Der Duft von Lavendel
Guitar is awesome on this one, too. The riffs and melodies are killer. The tempo goes down for a while after the solo changing the song to a darker shade, and then resumes momentum before the end.
10. Im Suff
A punkish “lalala” song with speedy partitions in the repeat. You can hear Tom sing in clean vocals I in some part – something you don’t hear often.
11. Der Onkel kommt zum Hausbesuch
Der Onkel is always welcome to hour house – especially with such good songs! Definitely a catchy one both with its repeat and guitar lead.
12. Auf Gedeih und Verderb
Hammer… Smashed… Face! My ultimate favorite in the album. The intro sounds like Sodom and then speed blows you away with thrash/punk riffs. It could have easily made its way into a Sodom album with a few touches. Onkel delivers the speed you are looking for at the end of the album. This one is abso-fuckin’-lutely the hardest, fastest and most thrashy song on the album – and probably in all Onkel Tom discography. You will wish it never ends. Aaarrrghhhhh…
13. Ich bin noch am Leben
Harsh vocals meet western-style acoustic. A closing ballad which is the longest track on the album.
14. Ruhrpott (Bonus)
One of the absolute highlights in the album although released as a bonus track. An easy-going hard rock song capable of enchanting the crowds to a sing-along. The military-march-snare part is definitely cool.
15. Die Geister, die ich rief (Bonus)
This one is also very nice. There is a crazy drum-fill along the solo where you wish it to last a couple more seconds.
It is a buy-or-die album not only for all Sodom and Onkel Tom fans but also all beer lovers and anyone who likes to hear some funny yet hard stuff.
1 point off due to relatively slower speed.
1 point off because 10/10 means Nunc Est Bibendum