Review by Felix on May 18, 2023.
May 2023. Germany is a land in demise. The government has forgotten to do its homeworks in terms of digitalization, infrastructure, management of migration, school and education, economical independence (as far as possible), Russia, equipment of its armed forces and many more items, far too many to list them all. But the politicians are unscrupulous. Angela Merkel, who has the lion’s share concerning the disaster, gets the highest orders of the Federal Republic of Germany, issued by her former social-democratic accomplice. Given this modern downfall scenario, it feels good to get a new OHL release – it’s a little act of defiance.
Deutscher W still doesn’t mince matters. His lyrics are clear and direct as always and he describes reality. 'Kristallnacht', for example, does not deal with the historic shame of 1938, but with the violence of Arabian and German criminals in Germany against Jews in our times. Doubtlessly, there is still the fire of rage burning in the lead vocalist and main man of OHL. Apart from that, Brandstifter presents mainly typical OHL material, but I miss one element: high velocity. The songs are based on mid- or up-tempo rhythms, but the pure insanity of speed does not break out. Compared to their best albums, Feindkontakt for instance, Brandstifter is no relaxed, but definitely a less merciless work. This mars the overall result. And there is a second detail that leaves room for optimization. Some choruses are below the usual OHL standard. Those of 'Weiße Fahnen' and 'Mörder Der Freiheit' fall victim to their own meaninglessness. That’s apity in view of the short playtime of 30 minutes. A short length is no problem as long as the album holds only hits, but already a small number of fillers leads to a considerable loss of substance. By the way, OHL have trouble to reach the 30 minute mark. The longest song, 'Das System Bricht', is okay, but suffers a bit from too many repetitions.
However, let’s get back to the positive aspects of Brandstifter. The four songs at the beginning unfold a lot of energy. 'Niemandsland' is a strict and rapid opener, 'Ehrenmord' combines smooth rhythms with very clear (and correct) lyrics and the aforementioned 'Kristallnacht' is also among the best pieces on this metal-punk-crossover album. The advance track 'Deutschland Brennt' shows OHL in good form as well, although it almost stands in the shadow of its neighbouring tracks. I don’t say that the second half of Brandstifter is annoying. 'Deine Letzte Stunde' is a heavy, dense and straight bullet, 'Frei Statt Fromm' scores with a great guitar line which shows up for the first time after the drums/vocals intro.
The album is properly produced. The guitars do not lack force and aggressiveness, the bass exists (no matter of course!) and the vocals are in the centre. Maybe they should have given the drums more room, but this is no big deal. Therefore, one can enjoy broad parts of the album and its quite nightmarish closer, the most atmospheric track on Brandstifter. Nevertheless, I am convinced that OHL can do an even better job. It’s okay that they deliver more of the same and nothing new, but in the past they have already written better riffs and spread more energetic vibes within the given, self-defined frame. Yet I don’t want to be too small-minded. OHL is still a legend, Brandstifter does not enhance their reputation, but does not harm it either. In other words, the band is in a much better condition than my fatherland in May 2023.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10857