The land of the Teutons is not exactly renowned for outstanding services to rock music. For every innovative electronic act, such as Kraftwerk there has been a greater number of ear-sores on the musical landscape from ’80s dodgy, poodle-haired rockers, The Scorpions, to present-day, silly-voiced, dance-lite acts like Scooter.
In this context, the prospect of there being a good German punk band (and before anyone asks, Die Toten Hosen were NOT a good German punk band), never mind a way above average one, seems like a remote one. Enter Waterdown to blow away this preconception.
The Files You Have On Me is the second album from this sextet and the buzz surrounding it prior to its release has already seen Waterdown garnering much attention from the punk and metal press. On the face of it, one might wonder what all the fuss is about. After all, does the world really need another group of angry young men shouting and playing loud guitars?
What sets Waterdown apart, however, is their effective use of two vocalists, one with the hardcore punk larynx abrasion down to a fine tee (Igor Rieser), and the other with a decidedly melodic, sometimes choirboy-ish quality (Marcel Bischoff).
This attraction of opposites works to best effect in tracks such as opener Bulletproof, where the metallic charge of the verses, topped with Rieser’s growled vocals, gives way to a memorable chorus, expertly sung by Bischoff. The topical lyrics (“Statesmen, keep them fed with tax money…broadcasting war to a jaded nation”) are worth a mention too, especially given that they were written last year
Another of Waterdown’s strengths is that, unlike many a punk/metal band one could mention, they are not afraid to show their sensitive side either. Thus, the politics sometimes makes room for tales of forlorn love, most poignantly captured in Decaffeinated, where the music takes on a more emotive feel and the lyricist describes himself going daily to the coffee-shop where his girlfriend left him, and despairs that “the one thing I don’t know is why this is not over yet”.
So, Waterdown have succeeded where many of their countrymen before have failed, by delivering an album full of well-penned songs that skip between rock genres and provide some interesting musical twists in the process. Now that is an achievement, whatever language you say it in.