Roughly translated as ‘Man Eaters’, Menschenfresser are an old school death metal/thrash metal three piece who formed in 2006 and hail from Trier in the depths of the Rhineland in Germany. With two demos, an EP and three full length releases under their belts, the formidable three piece go straight for the soft parts with their uncompromising 90’s death metal approach, sinking their teeth into anything which is vulnerable and bringing a horde of horror with them in their lyrics, all of which are in the band’s natural tongue which gives them a slightly more imposing edge. With their third full length release simply titled Sterben; ‘To Die’ in English, it’s straight to the point, this is going to be nasty.
Straight away, the opening track “Morbus” hits like a sledgehammer. Its slow, unrelenting paced guitars and pounding drums create a real unsettling atmosphere. The keyboards begin to slip in as the verse starts, adding a pseudo-black metal edge to the music which just ups the intensity and the growled vocals which are delivered in a mix between spoken pace and grunted just adds to this. It’s a formidable musical assault, with that guitar tone which is reminiscent of the trusty HM-2 pedal, the staple of plenty of death metal acts. There’s a brief speed up section in there which ups the pseudo-black metal feel and there is also some thrash pacing for good measure too thrown in there. In all, it’s a tight way to open this album and a good indicator of what is to come. “Wer Ist Da” again opts for the slight suspense building slow paced opening, jumping into a descending pattern riff which buzzes away before it hits a creepy sounding verse. Tormented whispers and rasps, backed with spooky synths and clean guitars create the traditional horror-film feel and the simple switch back to the descending pattern for the chorus does well also. This back and forth continues throughout the track, keeping the suspense and intimidation factor up. Getting a little more melodic in a dark and ominous way round the halfway point, it surges forwards into a full on heavy thrash styled gallop-chug section which demands raised claws and headbanging.
“Sterben” is a meaty sounding track which opens up with a bit more life in it, sitting more in the thrash realm. Loaded with a heavy Teutonic groove, vocals which hold a commanding presence and a sweet as hell drum sound, it powers forwards like a Panzer tank, ruining all in its path. Fearsome guitar tones, a real deep bass presence and gratuitous bursts of double kick create the foundation for the verse, and the chorus has that blackened quality to its sound, making a good finished package. Kudos for the eerie raspy vocal section over the blackened section and choir like synths which just cap that intimidating feel and make you think ‘Fuck this, I’m out of here!’. “Mittagssonne” is a deathy-thrash track loaded with blasts and nimble guitar riffs. The raw vocals and buzzing guitars bring that old school death metal feel and in all, this is bound to be a track which would ignite a live crowd. “Frontfleisch” is the curveball intro track on this album. A haunting clean melody suddenly shifts to a slow paced, colossal sounding wall of guitar with tormented vocal nonsense snaking its way around the sustained chord stabs. Synths add a bigger presence to it all and before you realise, it suddenly breaks into a slow and melodic guitar lead backed up by a real rich bassline and some epic synth backing, creating a hauntingly beautiful moment and probably the standout moment on this album. A real beautiful track hidden amongst the gore, innards and filth!
“Gehirnmassaker” is a flat out, fast paced explosion of blackened-thrash. Rapidfire guitars, blastbeats and barked vocal snarls, it charges ahead with little holding it back or stopping the momentum it suddenly pulled out of nowhere. Again, much like “Mittagssonne” earlier on the release, this is bound to get a crowd moving. There’s a slow thrashy break section towards the middle which would easily fit the crowd chanting trope as it slowly builds in presence til it once again explodes into the frenzied assault it opened up with, topped with a wild Slayer-esque solo just to cement how unhinged it is. “Ende” closes the album and it’s a little brighter sounding than the rest of the release. With a slight spring in the pacing, it has an odd, bouncy feel, pinned in place with some good double kick before it shifts to a steady paced, synth dominated sequence where the guitar and bass are there simply to boost the presence of the keys. A solid, headbanging riff comes in halfway through whilst the pace remains steadied and this switching from riffs to keyboard dominated persists through the song, the pace remaining steady throughout and drawing this short but intense release to a close.
In all, “Sterben” is a rather good release. It’s got a bit of everything on it, atmospheric impact, musical intensity, solid vocal delivery and a real stand out track in “Frontfleisch” which will catch you off guard every time you listen to it. With “Sterben”, Menschenfresser have done a great job and you will find yourself listening to this numerous times before realising just how on the edge of your seat this horror themed offering has you.