Der Blutharsch - _When Did Wonderland End?_
(WKN / Tesco, 2005)
by: Nikola Shahpazov (7 out of 10)
It was high time Der Blutharsch made an attempt to change their own musical pattern, so this album is, rather officially, the band entering Era II of their history. Albin Julius helped define the term "martial industrial", creating all sorts of controversy along the way, and now he transforms his project into an altogether different entity. Although carrying certain unavoidable traits from the past, "the new Der Blutharsch" is a fully functional band, with live instruments, little or no samples, psychedelic passages and somewhat surprising rock 'n' roll song structures. This transition has taken some time, true. Hints as to what stylistic direction they would take were evident in _When All Else Fails!_ and _Time Is Thee Enemy_, but no one knew what to make of them. Now that Albin Julius has shed his old skin, it's high time we investigate and evaluate.

It's simply impossible to avoid mentioning the impressive set of musicians involved in the recording of _When Did Wonderland End?_. So, here goes: Bain Wolfkind (vocals, guitar, snare drum), Jörg B. (guitar, bass guitar), aided by Paola Andrea Riascos of Terroritmo (vocals), Christine K. of Austrian neo-folkers Graumahd (clarinet), Matt Howden of Sieben and Sol Invictus (violin), Alessio B. of Varunna (cello), Didi Bruckmeyer of Fuckhead (vocals) -- even Death In June's very own Douglas P. contributed some lyrics.

Still, this is a transition album, and like most transition albums, it's far from perfect. If one wants to go specific and overly critical, there is probably an abundance of flaws, but still, this here is genuinely honest music and thus instantly likeable. The opening tracks aren't really convincing, but _When Did Wonderland End?_ gains momentum and proves to be more rewarding with each new listen. Whereas previous Der Blutharsch efforts seemed like a direct outtake from a 1939 Nurnberg party rally, this material sounds like a David Lynch soundtrack with a good deal of neo-folk involved. Hard to describe, too...

Impeccable packaging, as usual.

Contact: http://www.tesco-germany.com

(article published 15/3/2006)


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