German industrial metal gods 'Rammstein' are taking a well-earned break after spending more than 3 years on the road. Most of the band returned to Berlin and are probably sat at home polishing their flame throwers. However, lead guitarist Richard Zven Kruspe (RZK for short) went back into the studio to record the second album with his side-line band 'Emigrate'. The fruits of their labours can be heard on 'Silent So Long'.
Emigrate are badged as an alternative, rather than industrial, metal band. That said they share many of the 'Neuhe Deutsche Harte' (new German hardness) characteristics of Rammstein. This isn't surprising given RZK's influence on Rammstein's sound. The most obvious difference between the two groups is that Richard sings in English, whereas Rammstein sing almost entirely in German.
Emigrate also seem to be attempting the high wire act of being a metal band with commercial appeal. This is a tricky one to pull off, unless you are Metallica or Iron Maiden. Nevertheless RZK has lined up an impressive array of friends to help him out. There are guest appearances from Lemmy of Motorhead, Marilyn Manson and Jonathan Davis from Korn.
The opening track is 'Eat You Alive' which incorporates a catchy chorus alongside a bouncy beat reminiscent of Marilyn Manson's 'Fight Song'. Next up is 'Get Down' with an altogether more, dare I say it, electro beat. Helping out on vocals is Canadian electro musician 'Peaches'.
The third song 'Rock City' features Lemmy and could have been lifted straight from Motorhead's 1980 album 'Ace of Spades'. A fast pace and frenetic guitar work from RZK combine to make this a belter of a rock song, even if Lemmy's voice is showing signs of age (or too many Jack Daniels).
Marilyn Manson features on the next track 'Hypothetical' and then it's on to 'Rainbow', the most Rammstein-like song on the album. This is another song with a catchy chorus, but with somewhat clunky lyrics such as "Dewdrop in the meadow, prism in a halo".
Other notable tracks include 'Giving Up' which has a faintly Euro-trash style about it over layered with powerful vocals, and a hammering drum beat. Then there's 'Happy Times' featuring RZK's girlfriend Margaux Bossieux on bass. The final song is the title track of the album 'Silent So Long' featuring Jonathan Davis, and sounding very much like another Korn song.
RZK came up with the idea of 'Emigrate' as a way of exploring his musical creativity outside the constraints of Rammstein. This second album, much like the first, is an accomplished effort rather than a classic metal album. The production lacks a bit of finesse (yes, metal albums can have finesse - check out Drowning Pool's 2013 album 'Resilience'). The tracks tend to come across as a wall of sound, rather than displaying depth in the mix. That said, for those metal fans awaiting Rammstein's return it will make for a suitable way to pass the time.