January 14, 2019 Oomph! – Ritual (Album Review)
The year 2019 marks triumphant returns and German rockers Oomph! want in on the action. With nearly four years since their last studio offering, the boys are set to go off with a bang with Ritual, which arrives on January 18, 2019, thanks to Napalm Records.
A band from the very same movement (Neue Deutsche Härte) that brought us such titans as Rammstein, Oomph! have enjoyed a stellar career throughout Europe for the past three decades. Formed in Wolfsburg, in Northern Germany in 1989, three years later the band were releasing their eponymous debut and the rest is musical history. Definitely not a one hit wonder, they followed this up with twelve additional albums over the next twenty-three years, from 1994’s Sperm to 2015’s XXV. Along the way, Oomph! have shared stages with everyone from Metallica to HIM, Tool to Marilyn Manson.
Here’s something that very few bands these days can claim: Oomph! have undergone zero line-up changes since their inception, with the core of the band always being multi-instrumentalists Dero Goi, Andreas Crap, and Robert Flux. Now ready to tackle their (lucky) thirteenth album, Oomph! are poised to deliver the 11-song Ritual to the masses. If for some reason you’ve been asleep for the past three decades, here’s what you need to know about Oomph!: they oft blend Metal, Industrial, Alternative, Electronica and Gothic to create a sound that is characteristically their own — and it’s yummy.
Ritual opens to the throttling stomp of “Tausend Mann und ein Befehl” (“A Thousand Men and a Command”), a dirgey dance that sonically communicates its militaristic theme. Lyrically, the band explore the idea of blindly following orders, especially in times of warfare. Then they continue further into the darkness with “Achtung! Achtung!,” a catchy attention-grabber (pun intended) that stomps and rolls through crunchy, rocking territory.
The chugging guitars and gothy keyboards of “Kein Liebeslied” promise that, as per the track’s title, this is no love song. Instead, it’s a truly delicious reflection on the evolution of humanity and the achievements of man. To continue to emphasize that, Oomph! are going harder than they have in some time, they go full-throttle stomp for “Trümmerkinder,” which literally translates to “Debris Children.” A wonderfully Gothic, anthemic march for the overlooked that is infectious, the track delivers the ultimate opportunity for headbanging.
“Europa” casts its net wide for a cinematic but still hard rocking soundscape that is ominous and yet feels almost danceable. Here, Chris Harms of Lord of the Lost offers his deep, rich vocals to the track, complementing Dero flawlessly. They amp up the pace for the driving rocker “Im Namen des Vaters” (“In the Name of the Father”), a richly textured wall of sound that flows perfectly into “Das Schweigen der Lämmer.” Despite not being the classic cannibalistic film, the track is suitably tenebrous with soaring yet gruff choruses and thick keyboards that add a foreboding film over the mid-tempo rocker.
For “TRRR – FCKN – HTLR,” Oomph! go full-on Industrial. Despite its seemingly controversial exterior, the track delves into our ability to be easily seduced by the sensational, the lurid, and the ridiculous. It is, in fact, a middle finger pointed at much of the world, questioning our morals, social media and the digital age, as well as educational systems, waving a flag of shock value to inspire discussion. So, yes, there’s real meat on the bones of this dance-a-thon, topics that you will want to debate far away from a dance-floor.
Without a breath, the three dive headfirst into “Phönix aus der Asche,” which is as it sounds. With the return of those ethereally Gothic keys, they weave a softer sound, an overpowered ballad with melodic choruses that soar like the titular bird. Next, they dip down into offensively fat bass licks for “Lass’ die Beute Frei,” which very roughly translates to “Release the Loot.” This returns the band to the dirge-y pummel of earlier in the disc, bringing the listener full-circle as the end begins to approach. Before you grow complacent in your rocking, Oomph! toss in the ballad-esque “Seine Seele” to weave a story of one dark soul that is a perfect, subtle note to end on.
Written, produced, and mixed by Oomph!, Ritual stands as a testament to a band who have more than proven their talents over the past three decades. Masters at a hard-rocking amalgamation of sounds that coalesce in darkness to pack a massive, well, oomph, these Germans know a little something about crafting universal rockers that defy language barriers and incite headbanging, dancing, and thought. Ritual proves that Oomph! are here to stay, gloriously defiant, shockingly catchy, and wonderfully original. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock give Oomph!’s Ritual 4 of 5 stars.