Grosse Freiheit - Unheilig Review

Released: February 19, 2010
Label: Vertigo Records (Universal)

For those Neue Deutsche Härte fans that only listen to Rammstein, they don’t know what they’ve been missing out on. Neue Deutsche Härte bands are getting better attention these days, and gone were the days of just grunting "Du Hast" to heavy, aggressive guitars. Unheilig brings forth a new beast with Grosse Freiheit and fans don’t even have to understand German to enjoy this amazing album.
1. "Das Meer" 3:39
2. "Seenot" 4:22
3. "Für immer" 3:22
4. "Geboren um zu Leben" 3:50
5. "Abwärts" 3:30
6. "Halt mich" 3:47
7. "Unter Feuer" 5:03
8. "Grosse Freiheit" 3:48
9. "Ich gehöre mir" 3:34
10. "Heimatstern" 4:10
11. "Sternbild" 4:28
12. "Unter deiner Flagge" 4:10
13. "Fernweh" 4:38
14. "Neuland" 4:31
Unheilig delivers an epic stage sound created by the sole member Der Graf (The Count). He tries in creating a more orchestrated and melodic approach to writing Grosse Freiheit (Great Freedom), as compared to 2008's Puppenspiel. Unheilig's direction in Grosse Freiheit seems to be leaning towards a dramatic and almost operatic sound with a theme about the seas. Breaking from the usual Industrial Metal structure doesn't mean the usual Industrial staples are absent in Grosse Freiheit as they are still abound in tracks such as Unter Feuer (Under Fire), Abwärts (Down) and Ich gehöre mir (I Belong To Me).
Der Graf
Opening track Das Meer (The Sea) projects the sounds of the shore and a ship with a gramophone playing a maritime melody in the background. As he chants the words “Come with me to the sea, to board on a ship, to see the world, to sail with the tide, to sail into the storm”, the orchestra joins in to begin a grand intro to the album. Next track, Seenot (Distress), begins with heavy guitars that is almost reminiscent of other Neue Deutsche Härte bands but with Unheilig, the vapid and aggressive nature of the intro riff is calmed down with the velvety vocals in the chorus. This is the main "pull" factor in Unheilig's music, the ability to mix heavy instrumentals with dynamic singing and beautiful string arrangements.
Für immer (Forever), Geboren um zu Leben (Born to Live), Halt Mich (Hold Me) and Heimatstern (Home Star) are the down-tempo ballads of the album. A bit more of a downside to me personally, but easier to promote as singles. A personal favourite, Sternbild (Constellation) amplifies itself with more string instrument parts and the chorus singing “do not forget me” and the accompanying "woahs" just drives this song to a higher level for me.
Finale track Neuland, an extended instrumental version of Das Meer takes you further into the whole emotion of being in the open seas conveyed in Grosse Freiheit. The intricate piano playing with matching guitar riffs replaces the vocals in the intro track. A solid end to a well crafted album.
Having been putting Grosse Freiheit on repeat for a very long time, I can safely say it leaves such a huge impact and the album doesn’t bore you from start to end. His vocals are strong enough to carry on his own music and it doesn’t shy away when it gets challenging. If you're speculating if he's really that good, wait till you hear him live. Der Graf is as good as any Industrial vocalist and musician gets, but you might just be turned off or find him amusing by the eccentric stage moves. Grosse Freiheit would be a great start if you're looking into discovering the unique sounds of Neue Deutsche Härte.

82% unholy

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