Ha! RockmusicRaider is on the experimental war path again. This time with slightly new flavors that were not really present on the blog yet until now. And – in truth – those were undercurrents the local staff office did not fancy to walk into for fear of ending up in an Amaranthe-esque type of swamp. But never fret, oh fearsome one, things look a bit more juicy here than in Pop Metal nirvana.
Welcome to the realm of Oomph! and Rammstein, burning dicks and all. Plus the wide wastes of electronically tainted metal the movement Neue Deutsche Härte (NDH) likes to inhabit.
Eli Van Pike with their brand of electronically laden Industrial Metal decided to plow those very fields many other big bands already occupied for a while. Yet, their style darkly – and sometimes starkly – stands out from these same established outfits. Even if some of that stuff really is very near to what that same competition served the public before.
To spice things up some more, this is a young band. A project formed in 2016 only that came to light through the cooperation of Cradle of Haze mastermind Thorsten Eligehausen, guitar master Marc Vanderberg and drummer Ken Pike. And this explains the band name too, which is a derivative of elements of all three names together.
Their début album aptly named Welcome to my Dark Side really captures these dark vibes well and manages to pull you along on this 35 minute short-timer hardly qualifying as a full length. The tune all hides in a robe of funky industrially-tainted electro-rock and a load of gothic metal elements. And those are artfully woven into this darkly menacing web of sounds. To top it, Eli Van Pike – quite rightly – never worry too much about conventions of their genre. As an example and much to the dismay of industrial metal purists, the record includes two dark ballads – World on Fire and Valentine’s Day. Pretty good tracks, evilly cheeky and well written.
Once the disk turns, you get this feeling of rooms with iron walls spattered with blood. And in the middle the master supreme presiding over his deep and dark desires. On an altar of cold, rusty metal illuminated in harsh white light. Visions of frozen tableaux of gory scenes, committed by chicks in blood-red bodices and assisted by black clad males with black, long fingernails and deadly white skin that is about to break open. Blutengel anyone? Not really. Even if the dark, gothic side clearly is etched in acid into this altar stone of theirs. This band does not worship pure electronic pop rock, though. But let it be said, they are close.
It will also behoove you to check out the lyrics, even if German might not be your forte. With all those deep and dark undercurrents in their tune, their different themes seriously stick with reality and its thorny issues. For instance Peter, 41 and its opening line “Ich bin der Albtraum eurer Töchter…” might sound juicily cheeky at first. Yet, the track bemoans the serious issue of some older pervs going after youngsters too young for their own good. And detrimental to the well-being of their victims.
Welcome to my Dark Side however suffers from the repetition bug – a pretty bad disease. After a while things comfortably sink back into an amalgam of sounds we somehow already heard somewhere. And this lack of variation seriously pulls the quality of the record down.
Yet, the professional savvy of Eli Van Pike is definitely apparent at all corners of the road. The band controls all sounds tightly, no element lost. No wild smashing of soundwaves around the stage that other bands freely like to do. Vocals captured in a juicy (and cheeky) mix of German and English, pretty steely guitar sounds, somewhat subdued keys and drums always adapted to the tune. The strategically placed solos just add enough spice to all these electronics to keep interest levels at a lusty high. This – by definition – already indicates that you will find little fault with the mixing and mastering of the record as a whole.
So to conclude and as others opined, did these guys really skim off stuff that their brethren already covered before? The answer is not quite. Welcome to My Dark Side ably positions itself straight in the middle of Rammstein‘s crudeness and Oomph!‘s somewhat grotesquely gothic pop-metal culture.
With all of its dark-red undercurrents, Eli Van Pike created a sound of their own. A sound that remains firmly rooted in the troubled waters of NDH nonetheless. So, whilst similarities exists, their tune will stand out in this definitely already pretty crowded genre. A pity that the band is a studio project only for now. They could make a killing on stage I am sure, with material for live sceneries for a felt century.
Good stuff, I like it.