Sicktus : I am not going to introduce Onkel Tom. It is 2018, you all know them. Or you don’t, your loss. Anyway, straight on to ‘Bier Ernst’: some four years after the surprisingly strong outing that was ’H.E.L.D.’, the bierthrash chamber orchestra from Gelsenkirchen deliver a double album (on 2CD and 2LP) with no less than 21 tracks and an hour and 14 minutes of playing time. The album is called ‘Bier Ernst’, which is German for ‘Beer’ and ‘Serious / Grave / Earnest’. So the album title in English would be something along the lines of ‘Serious Beer’, which refers to the topics and style of both discs: the first one has the happy-go-lucky, catchy, punky and instant sing-a-long beerthrash and the more serious stuff is on the second disc.
Straight from the first tones on ‘Beer’, the ingredients are clear: the roaring, ripping vocals by Tom, supported by neat, catchy thrash, with a big dose of punk attitude, party-mode choruses (like the very profound ‘Bier, Bier, Bier’ or ’Flasche Zu Flasche’), some folky or Schlager elements, an accordion, a bit of trumpet. Some big, big (pop)punk influences (Hosen, Bad Religion, Onkelz), some more tear it up stuff (Troopers come to mind). Even some alternative rock and bluesy stuff, such as the track ‘Jacky Cola’, which is bound to become a favourite for out Lords colleague Nima, or the almost Macabre Minstrels-ey track ‘Prost’. Lyrically, it is mainly beer, lack of money, more beer, partying, booze, metal, lalala and even more beer. Nothing new, but on the whole more than apt and scoring big points on catchiness, kicking ass and delivered in a convincing way. Halfway through the first disc, my attention dips a bit, but if I were to judge just the first disc, it would score a very decent 80 points.
So, how about the ‘Serious’ (‘Ernst’) part of the album? As they did on ’H.E.L.D.’, Onkel Tom manage to pleasantly surprise me, by adding a lot more layers / depth to both music and lyrics. Musically, ‘Ernst’ is more raw, sometimes even a bit melancholy. Lyrically, ‘Ernst’ deals with love for music and the state of the world / humanity. Were I to only judge the second half, I’d score it an 85.
Predecessor ‘H.E.L.D.’ could be summarized as ”an honest combination between party punk, raw thrash and in your face hardrock" and that also goes for this double release. Disc one serves up the traditional Onkel Tom party animal beerthrash. Disc two contains some raw thrash and in your face hardrock, with ‘Egal’, ‘Ich Muss Hier Raus’ and ‘Das Blaue Buch Des Lebens’ as bluntly honest, stampeding and driving highlights. The album finishes with a cover version of ‘Polizisten’, originally by Extrabreit. A damn fine combination of Beer and Serious stuff by the Gelsenkircher quintet!