It all began in 1999 when Der Graf laid the foundations for Unheilig with the help of Jose Alvarez-Brill and Grant Stevens. The hit single "Sage Ja!" was released on Bloodline and it quickly entered the German Alternative DAC charts to become a club hit. Two years later, the long-awaited debut album Phosphor was released, also on the Bloodline label. This album would later become one of the best selling albums for the label. After taking a break from touring, Der Graf entered the studio once again to record the unique Christmas album Frohes Fest. This album includes a very unique collection of a variety of traditional German Christmas songs all done with that Gothic/Darkwave style that only Unheilig can do. 2003 brought the release of Das Zweite Gebot, the third full-length album venturing again into the realm of the native german language. With the departure from the Bloodline label and the lyrics being entirely in German it seems the band moved slightly away from the global audience, focusing more on the local following. The fourth release builds on this idea and musical style even more with the dynamic release Zelluloid.
With their roots firmly established in the popular German music scene, this group continues to mature and grow with each release. Their debut album was extremely popular and continues to be so and is subsequently very hard to track down. The mixture of the Gothic Rock, Darkwave and Electronic styles combined together to form something between Sisters of Mercy and Covenant. Danceable rhythms, emotional ballads and epic rock sculptures all provide a backdrop for the excellent vocals of Der Graf. This blend of music and deep vocals are immediately captivating and easily explain the popularity of this group.
With the worldwide popularity still spreading despite the slight language barrier that may exist, the music continues to be captivating. This easily earns this group a home here with Gothic Paradise where you can catch selections on the Club radio show.
Zelluloid - Review
After hearing the Sage Ja! single and later the Phosphor album by this group, I was captivated. I had found a group that mixed dark electronics, gothic rock, a tinge of goth metal and deep vocals for a hybrid style that I really enjoyed. Each song on that first album was mesmerizing, some were fun and dance-floor friendly, others were downtempo ballads with smooth rhythms and thought-provoking lyrics. Subsequently, when each follow-up album came out I wasn't disappointed. And finally I have Zelluloid in my hands and in my player and I'm enjoying it very much. At first listen, because I don't understand much German, I long for the English tracks from the Phosphor days. However, as I've listened more and more, each time I'm able to glean a bit more from the lyrics and as usual, the great compositional elements of the music are excellent.
Each track on this album has it's own nature and elements that stand out on their own. The intro "Filmrolle" builds up to the smashing and driving track "Zauberer". Later on we're presented with a somber angelic piece "Himmelherz" with smooth angel-like vocals in the background with the deep bass voice of Der Graf subtlely carrying the melody. And even later is the electronic-oriented fast-paced piece "Fabrik Der Liebe" with pulsating electronics and the standard guitar riffs.
This guitar is the overlaying standard instrument throughout this album, even more so than the previous works. While it has been present on each album, this one really brings it out more, adding that slight Goth Metal touch to it. The driving track "Tanz Mit Dem Feuer" is aptly named and sports this guitar more than any other. The slightly bombastic nature of this track really brings out what this group can do. Yet if you dig deep and really listen, you can still hear the subtle electronics and even angelic vocal samples in the background adding that slight layer of mystical soundscapes. This is a great mix indeed and a perfect example of the talents this band has.
I've touched on many of my favorite tracks, but these are just pure examples of what the album has to offer. It's hard for me to even pick out favorites because they are all on an equal plain. All are very enjoyable and homogenous in many ways. Some critics would probably bring this up as a negative point, but overall I think it maintains the mood throughout quite well, lacking nothing up to the last instrumental track. My only wish would be just a few tracks in English for my own enjoyment, or I would recommend fans learn a bit more German to more fully enjoy this album. As the album stands, you just can't go wrong with the 16 tracks (ltd. Edition) on this work.
Label: Nilaihah Records
Label: Unholy Deeds