Reviewer Score: 8 out of 10

Die Apokalyptischen Reiter is one of those bands whose albums I always look forward to with particular trepidation. The history of my relationship with DAR has been going on for a little less than 20 years, and in some reviews I have probably already talked about them. Therefore, I will not dwell on my vision of the creative path of the band. Let me just say that, in my opinion, DAR has always been and remains one of the most interesting, professional and original bands on the German metal scene, and for these reasons they simply cannot release a bad album. So, all my further criticism will be in the context of the band itself, and not in the context of the scene in general.

And there will be criticism. As I said, I have special hopes for the new releases of Die Apokalyptischen Reiter because there is always something new, something interesting, some kind of eclecticism of styles, a mixture of the traditions of European Heavy Metal and ethnic elements from the music all over the globe, bright melodies, powerful vocals, and so on and so forth. By the way, some words about experiments and eclecticism of styles. I didn’t write anything about that, but I can’t help but note that a year earlier, perhaps the most experimental album in the entire history of the band called “The Divine Horseman” was released, which, quite predictably, was received ambiguously by the fans. The fact is that the entire album is a kind of compilation of one big jam session of DAR. Listening to this record, you are truly amazed by the fact that all these passages were the result of studio improvisation. Of course, I suppose that the guys came to the studio with some homemade demos, but my hypothesis does not detract from the uniqueness of this experience. Yes, “The Divine Horseman” should not be taken as an official studio album, but it’s very cool when taking it as an experiment. So, after coming across such a creative approach, I expected that the next full-length album would be full of no less bright and unusual ideas. And here my expectations were bitterly disappointed .... Okay, I will not dramatize, but further I will explain what I mean in more detail.

“Wilde Kinder” is the most boring album ever released by the Horsemen of the Apocalypse(note: this is the translation of the title of the band from German). As I said, due to their professionalism and talent, DAR cannot release a bad album, but on this album there is no even a slight trace of that innovation, creativity and eclecticism, which I have previously spoken about. On “Wilde Kinder” the band uses exactly the same tricks that we’ve heard on the previous albums of the Die Apokalyptischen Reiter since “Licht”. And though the new work of the band gravitates more towards the previous full-length album “Der Rote Reiter”, I did not find freshness and, if you will, band’s “own face” in “Wilde Kinder”. Of course, there are very cool things on the album, which we will definitely talk about below, but in general, the record clearly fell short of my expectations, even the artwork seems somewhat amateur... But that's another story. Let's take a closer look at the songs of the album.

Die Apokalyptischen Reiter love energetic intros, and if the album “Der Rote Reiter” was opened by the punk-like “Wir sind zuruck”, then on “Wilde Kinder” the listener is blown away by the uplifting “Von Freiheit will ich singen” (“I want to sing about freedom”). Here I have already got some associations with “Die Freiheit ist eine Pflicht”. And, no, not because the word “freiheit” appears in the titles of both tracks. But the second track on the album, which is called “Volle Kraft” (“Full speed ahead”), is, perhaps, one of the brightest and most memorable tracks on the album that was released as the first single. Everything is perfect here: near-industrial riffs, crazy drums, emotional solo and powerful chorus. I think “Volle Kraft” deserves a place in the golden pool of the creative heritage of DAR.

Well, if it’s “full speed ahead”, full speed ahead then! And here we have the next track – “Alles ist gut”, with which the "Horsemen of the Apocalypse" are trying to convince us that “everything is fine”. Well, perhaps for the Die Apokalyptischen Reiter everything is really going as well as possible... So, I digress. I would call “Alles ist gut” a local version of “Auf und nieder” with a slightly less catchy melody, otherwise everything is the same – even the enthusiastic notes in Fuchs’ voice are just as cheerful.

Charged with inexhaustible positive, we approached the title track of the album and also the second single – “Wilde Kinder” (“Unbearable Children”). Even before the release of the full-length album, I had no complaints about this track; on the contrary, it left a pretty pleasant impression. I would like to note that it was less bright than the one left by “Volle Kraft”, but definitely pleasant. A driving smash hit in the style of DAR that I’m sure will be well received by the fans at live performances, which I can’t say about the next song – “Leinen los” (“Cast off the lines”). The first ballad of the album and, despite the trademark growling vocals in a very nice bridge, a completely ordinary song that would suit Santiano more than the Die Apokalyptischen Reiter. And after another motivating passage that all the seas are open and you are the captain of your own ship, DAR once again restore faith in a “better tomorrow” with a monumental composition “Euer Gott ist der Tod” (“Your God is Death”). Goosebumps start running over my body already at the intro part, where the choir sings in Latin “Mors et nox in concordia invicta” (“Death and night in invincible harmony”), after which the powerful guitars start playing, taking you straight to the times of “All you need is love”. And when this pressure subsides, Fuchs speaks with a gloomy, ominous sprechgesang about the fall of the old world. Well, this is just a music for my ears after enthusiastically cheerful passages about butterflies and flowers. Here it is, the real spirit of the “Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. By the way, the female vocal parts in this composition were performed by Sabine Scherer of Deadlock. As, I think, you have already understood, “Euer Gott ist der Tod” became my absolute favorite on the record, however, it is a pity that it stands out of it so much. But the next track – “Nur Frohen Mutes” (“Only positive vibrations”) – does not get out of the context of the record at all, being a mixture of “Von Freiheit will ich singen” and “Alles ist gut”.

In general, there is nothing to dwell on here, but the song called “Blau” (“Blue”) following the “Vibrations” aroused a certain interest in me, but not with its compositional component or lyrics, but with one interesting fact. As many of you may know, the album was mixed in Hamburg at Chris Harms' studio, though surprisingly not by Chris himself. So, in the booklet of the album, he is listed as a featured artist in this song with a mark “spoken words”, but no matter how much I tried to hear where and what words are spoken, I did not hear anything. Perhaps Harms was just passing by during the recording process, said something casually, and the guys from the band decided (to be on the safe side) to mention him as a guest musician... I don’t know – it’s a mystery to me. Anyway, the song itself again loses to other ballads by the Die Apokalyptischen Reiter. But this failure is compensated by a quite nice ending of the album in the form of the following tracks: “Der Eisenhans” (“Iron Hans”) and “Ich bin ein Mensch” (“I am a man”). It may seem a little strange, but “Eisenhans” reminded me of “Eisenmann” by Unheilig. Again, the point is far from being that both songs are about an “iron man”, but in their structure, in which rather rhythmic, tight verses are replaced by drawn-out hymn-like choruses, filled up with awareness. The retro keyboard part by Dr. Pest is also worth mentioning. And in this regard, I was also confused because Dr. Pest, the permanent keyboard player of the band, is listed only as one of the guest musicians on the album. Unfortunately, I missed the news that he left the band. This is a huge loss for the band in my opinion, but it’s nice that Dr. Pest was invited to take part in the recording process. And the last track – “Ich bin ein Mensch” – could be a good version of NDH by DAR, if Fuchs didn't turn into a power metal vocalist in the chorus again. Otherwise, it`s a great song, with a low sprehgesang and a rrrrroaring “RRRrrrr”, in the best traditions of you-know-him, an instrumental with an intriguing percussion and a mechanized bridge at the end of the track. A good ending of the record, in my opinion.

So, on the one hand, I realize that it is a bit naive to accuse the band releasing their 12th studio album of self-repetitions. More precisely, it is naive to hope that there will be no self-repetitions by the 12th album. And it is clear, I like the style of the Die Apokalyptischen Reiter, but “Wilde Kinder” as a whole is simply weaker than their previous records. Using not the widest range of expressive means, the album for the most part loses to its predecessors even purely melodically. As for my evaluation of the album, of course, I will give it 8 out 10 because it is still head and shoulders above the majority of modern releases on the German scene, but in the context of the band, “Wilde Kinder”, unfortunately, is a rather boring and weak work.

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Serj Tabu
Music journalist, showrunner, the co-founder of our radio. And just a freakin' cool man, without whom nothing would have happened!

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