I’ve reached the time of life where Bosch is a brand of washing machine from Germany, not the name of an electronic metal band from the same country. The title “Apparat”, which means “appliance” doesn’t help to allay my preconception.
Of course this isn’t a series of odes to spin dryers. My immediate image on listening to “Apparat” was of Rammstein meeting Wumpscut on a dark night, then going on a march together. I didn’t actually hear “Links 2 3 4” but the German language, together with the thudding electro beat, does its bit to reinforce the militaristic mechanical nature of it. But it’s not all about that. I heard the gothic strains of Crematory here and there, and I detected a faint element of feeling in the dark and eerie “Der Sturm” (The Storm). But that was the eighth track. To this point and for most of the tracks after it, “Apparat” thumps its way into our psyche with its heavy sonic electro rhythms. The rip-roaring songs are enough to make you headbang through walls. Forward thrusting songs with Teutonic growls make a potent combination but the imagination comes from the synthesisers which not only add depth but also twist and turn to penetrate the thumping beat. It’s like a processing machine.
Sputnik calling Earth. Ah, it’s “Engel” (Angel). In common with Rammstein’s “Engel”, there’s nothing remotely angelic about it. It must be a German thing. It’s utterly catchy in its dark way. The rhythm beats its way into your head. Fast, hard, heavy and sinister as it is, “Schwarzer Mann” (Black Man) is like party time. We could join in if it wasn’t all in German but it’s easy to pick up the key words of the choruses. So if you find yourself shouting “Guten Abend, Gute Nacht”, “Amok”, “Eiszeit” or “Treibgut der Zeit”, you have been warned here. There’s a buzzing energy. Sometimes, the electro rhythms are sophisticated. The washing machine is rumbling. No, it’s “Gier” (Greed). The bass is deep. The songs are anthemic, none more so than “Eiszeit” (Ice Time). Racing off and almost leaving us behind, it’s totally catchy and infectious. “Der Sturm” slows things down momentarily but we’re soon back to punishing heaviness. On the second half of this fourteen track album, there’s more of a mix with measured heaviness and even melancholy creeping into “Meine Welt” (My World), but the bounciness and thumping rhythms are never far away. “Amok” is less furious but no less anthemic. The drum beats as if the band is working on a building project and need to get the job done now. In general there’s not much variety though and by “Lästerzungen” (Vicious Tongues), even the electro violence has become mundane, suggesting it’s gone on for too long. But the album finishes with a cracker in “Treibgut der Zeit” (Floating Wreckage of Time). There’s more time allowed to build up atmosphere. A funky bass electro rhythm runs through it. A combination of something approaching orchestral drama and the usual punching heaviness can be heard. It’s hard to say “subtle” but in the contact of this album it is. Nor is it lyrically challenging as “Treibgut der Zeit” stands alone as a lyric to be chanted militaristically, but this track still holds up as a fine example of the electro crossfire that this album represents.
Not too much analysis is needed here. “Apparat” isn’t thought-provoking, and no-one is going to be overwhelmed by its complexity. It’s a pure and simple electro assault, and an invigorating one at that.
(8/10 Andrew Doherty)