"Zyklus" (Album, 2005) !DSO Recommended!
Okay, confession time, I'd received this album for review and it got buried in the pile for months only to be unearthed when I saw that German electro rockers Girls Under Glass were due to play at Elektrofest 2005 and I thought I should give them a pre-listen before attending. No sooner had I done so and I realised what I'd been missing out on. Zyklus is the best alt.rock album I've heard for donkey's years. On this release, Girls Under Glass demonstrate some of the sensibilities of bands like Die Krupps, Nine Inch Nails and Rammstein who all share in their willingness to combine rock guitars (crucially without the pathetic 'rock n roll' ego) with a genuine love of electronics providing the backing support. Of course, a skill for composition is vital to make the most of that package. It is a rare and fine example of proving that music can be at once ballsy as hell and can carry a nice tune too thank you very much.
Having seen them live and being totally blown away - everything I said for their live performance holds true of their studio work. Volker Zacharias' vocals are just as effective on the mellow songs like Deliverance, where he can emote "Love is like a red rose" and it doesn't sound remotely naff, and Under My Skin, through to the air punching rock chanting of Ohne Dich. The Rammstein link is perhaps closest made in the storming chorus of the tempestuous Feuerengel. It's on Wonderwall that the electronics are utilised up front the most and give the band the opportunity to push their sound envelope further still (even if the bubbling bass synth sequencer backing has a decidedly vintage Krautrock tone to it).
The standard of songwriting on Zyklus is remarkable. If someone had presented it to me as a 'Best of' compilation I never have doubted it for a moment. There's an epic quality throughout (exemplified by songs like Love Is In My World and In The Darkness) that is heightened at times by judicious use of backing female vocals. Few bands completely understand the thrill of the extended intro format to songwriting. Girls Under Glass do and they do it so often here, yet with repeated uplifting effect that you wonder how they manage to keep getting away with it. Bands so willing to use electronics rarely put together such an impressive array of guitar riffs but Zacharias proves that he is undeniably multitalented.
It's clear that having been there and done that for more than a decade Girls Under Glass simply get on with the process of writing and performing stonkingly good music and leave all that fashion and trend nonsense to those either too young to know better or too old who should. Cracking from start to finish, Zyklus is a terrific album and therefore recommended without reservation. 8/10
Rob Dyer (March 2007)
"Ohne Dich " (EP, 2004)
A nifty four-track EP (in a limited edition digipak) that exemplifies the Zyklus album that this preceded. The titular Ohne Dich (Without You) sets out Girls Under Glass' stall for creating the dramatic highs and lows of darkness-tinged anthemic pop rock. Short and sweet, clocking in at under four minutes this is both clever and entertaining. Vocalist Peter Spilles of Project Pitchfork fame provides guest vocals alongside GUG frontman Volker Zacharias. The Remix version is a welcome addition, at first creating the impression you can easily guess where it is headed, but it quickly pulls the know-all rug from under your feet by neatly stripping the song back to its underlying component parts.
Also featuring on the Zyklus album is Under My Skin a fine example of GUGs other end of the spectrum abilities - namely romantic balladering somewhat in the style of latter-day Metallica (on tracks like Mama Said) - here in a subtly tweaked Alternative Version. New track Trust Me also demonstrates GUGs softer rock side sounding vaguely American at the chorus but the verses are more successful with minimal instrumentation focusing on a gentle and very affecting guitar riff. Trivia fix: Fellow countrymen (and much more famous) Rammstein also released a single entitled Ohne Dich in the very same month - November 2004. 6/10
Rob Dyer (March 2007)