Written by: MT on 14/04/2010 10:32:04

I feel compelled to review this magnificent self-titled debut from Kellermensch as it is my most inspiring CD purchase in a very long time. Not to mention that it's release was unfortunately overlooked by us. As far as I'm concerned, this is one of the most crucial releases in the Danish music scene and proves that this little country can still churn out something original.

Kellermensch are a five piece band from the southern town of Esbjerg, where in 2006 the group was formed under the name which refers to the isolated, introverted protagonist known as the "Underground Man" or "Celler Man" from the existentialist novel "Notes From The Underground". What makes Kellermensch so interesting is it's influences which range from singer/songwriters Tom Waits and Neil Young to the dark post-metal reaches of Neurosis and existentialist philosophy; which are all beautifully and twistedly arranged into the band's unique sound.

Most of the songs are built on simple riffs and elements which are layered to give a thick, driving, atmospheric sound. Songs like "Moribund Town" are bass heavy and powerful yet catchy and very infectious. Although there are no violinists in the core line up, Kellermensch still have violins and a double bass on the album which gives it a brazen symphonic texture that stands out boldly. "The Day You Walked" is an example of the almost cinematic feel the band conveys with the violin playing a macabre lead melody. The lyrics are clever and generate a creative dark imagery suited for the music and the singing embraces many different shades of cleans and screams from the two unique vocalists. The band even manages to cover Tom Wait’s "Dirt In The Ground", probably the weakest song on the album, and Neil Young’s "Don’t Let It Bring You Down", which is done confidently; adding a heavier and more epic element that the original didn’t have.

As a production fanatic, the album is a real treat to listen to. Inside the CD booklet towards the end, the band writes "this album was made without the use of samples, keyboards, pitchcorrection or beat quantization devices"; an approach I commend Kellermensch for. In this age of digital technology, whether you know it or not, 99% of bands use these tools to make the music easier to record and enhance their playing (except for the keyboards). In most metal, the drums are up to 50% samples which are almost always quantized after to get everything spot on the beat. Not in Kellermensch’s case. Naturally they are not playing at break-neck tempos, but this approach gives the album a raw and very organic feel that in no way hinders the performance or production, but rather adds to it; proving that sometimes recording the old school way is better. Plus the album is produced by none other than the band’s main man himself, Sebastian Wolff.

From start through finish, Kellermensch’s debut is a ride through darkness and all it's obscene eccentricities, which is thoroughly convincing of this band’s bright future. Apart from the very boring and minimalistic cover which feels almost like a demo (shame on you Target); the album is a fine piece of art. Every song fits the mood that wraps up into this short but dangerously effective debut. If you want personal, gritty, grimy and yet filtered through the finesse of an original artist’s hands, this is a must-have. In fact, any self-respecting Danish rock fan needs to hear this and hopefully enjoy it as much as I did.


Download: Moribund Town, The Day You Walked, Black Dress
For The Fans Of: Neurosis, Niel Young, Tom Waits, Isis, Nick Cave
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 26.01.2009
Persona Non Grata Records/Target Distribution

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