Sebastian Sünkler is the man behind German, industrial, power noise act Stahlschlag and September has seen the release of his 6th studio album, Alive!.
Based in Hamburg, Stahlschlag have a reputation for experimental rhythmic and atmospheric noise and he does not disappoint on this album.
From the start of “Bitterness“, the production on this album is just beautiful. The synths are clear, the beats pound into your brain and there is that hint of static fizzling. The name for this track is almost an anomaly, as it is almost joyous.
The same cannot be said for “Hate“. Grating and metallic, mincing the powerful noise into one angry climaxing beast, broken with a soliloquy from young Arya of Game of Thrones fame, on the hate she feels.
Fabulous beats hail in the smooth synth sounds for “In Tension“. It is driven in its contrasts of heavy beats with delightful, lilting tunes hovering above it.
“Addiction” with its female moans has you wondering what this addiction might be. Could be sexual, chemical or maybe to do with the music as it screeches along on its merry way.
And low, like Thor hamering on iron girders, “Rage Of Fury” is just as the name implies. A whirling cacophony of industrial noise held together with yet more noise.
There is a world of painful electronic distortion in “Wohlstandstrotz” repeatedly slamming into your brain, only broken by voice clips, as it gathers itself together for another onslaught.
You can almost imagine yourself in a jungle with the crickets singing in the humid night air, as the natives beat their drums. This is “Madness” and it almost tastes different.
“Pan” continues the tribal feel but this is far more Germanic and foreboding. This is forceful and moves at a terrifying speed, like a freight train that will not stop for anything.
After the last track, “Disbanded” is almost, positively light… almost. The the keyboards lure you into a state of near bliss before the beats drag you further in.
“Shake ‘Em” is somewhat an interlude which isn’t fully noise but isn’t sitting still either. A rhythmic breather with psychedelic oddities.
Back to German efficiency with extreme power noise in “Whataboutism“. Again this is so god damn crunchy, that you can almost feel it grating your skin.
In “Sui generis“, there is a futuristic vibe as it is cleaner than any other number in the album and yet there is such a undertow of tension.
Any track called “Plague“, is going to be coming from a dark place and the ambience indeed feels grim. Again there are those wonderful static beats that stick out starkly to the ambient tune.
The concluding track is “Aufstand“, a crunchy rhythm piece. It feels tortured and wind swept, as it echoes into the metallic void. This is the uprising.
I am not the world authority on electronic/industrial noise but I know what I like and quite frankly this is a feast for the ears. Sünkler is quite the musician, sinking melodies into distortion and noisy rhythmic sound scapes.
Alive! is tribal in a way, as the music is very motivated by Sünkler’s high energy rhythmic input. You can hear two of the bands that heavily influenced Sebastian, in his musical endeavours, those being XOTOX and NOISUF-X.
Released on Crunch Pod, I can do nothing else but highly recommend that if you have any interest in industrial music, you must check out Alive! for an intelligent and superbly crafted album that might just make you see noise in a whole different way. For the converted, you are going to seriously enjoy this Stahlschlag gem plus he’s a seriously great guy. Get Alive!