Album Review: “Dunkel” by Die Ärzte


After I have already wrote a review for the first new album “Hell”, it is not very surprising that I am also write one for the second new one “Dunkel”. Funny to mention here is that I actually thought that “Hell” is meant as Englisch word (in German “Hölle”) on the first album. This was also confirmed by the cover, where Die Ärzte are shown with “devilishly” creepy eyes. But since the second album is called “Dunkel” (in Englisch “Dark”) and also has a slipcase where “Hell” can be put in, the German adjective (translated “light”) will probably be meant. Nevertheless, it cannot be ruled out 100% that both words were meant, because Die Ärzte like to use words with ambiguity. For example in the new album is the song “Noise” (“Krach” in German), although in the song they sing “Zeit für etwas Neues”, so they mean the German word, which is pronounced the same as the English word, but with different meaning.

First and foremost, as with the first album, this is a first impression that came after a few days of listening to the songs. However, this impression can change over time. For example, I saw the songs “Alle Auf Brille” and “Thor” in the album “Hell” at rank C, because they were sung very funny and sometimes strange … but after a while I liked them and I did would almost class them as B rank. My reviews should therefore be seen more as a snapshot, as my opinion can still change here and there.

Before the actual review, I would just like to briefly say something about the history of the album. The album “Dunkel” was announced roughly one year after the album “Hell” and was released on September 24, 2021. In contrast to the first album, this happened so “suddenly” that in advance only one single could be released as a video release, namely “Noise” on September 10th. This video is also a continuation of the single video “Ich, am Strand” (by the way, one of my favorite songs from the last album), which was released on May 14, 2021 and was released quite late as the fourth single and was probably intended to serve as a transition. But it is also very nice of Die Ärzte that they have uploaded all their new songs to Youtube (with or without video) and that I can link them here. The album itself was published in a beautiful little book of lyrics, similar to “Hell”. The slipcase, where the first album can be put in, contains a garland that Die Ärzte probably only added as filler material.

My Review

Before I get to the individual songs, I would like to say in advance that I don’t think the album is as good as “Hell”. That doesn’t mean that “Dunkel” was just the rest of the songs that probably just didn’t fit into the previous album, but neither does the album feel as creative to me as the last one, nor does it have many surprise hits.

Similar to the last album, I have classified the songs in ranks A to D, with A being long-running hits (comparable to hits like “Too Late” or “Schrei nach Liebe”), B are songs that are easy to listen to, C are songs that are okay, but just listening to them once is enough, and D stands for failed. If there are gaps in the ranks, then in order to subdivide the songs in rank (like C +, C and C-). Now here is my ranking:

As you can see from the ranking, I don’t think there are really great hits on this album. The only song that I actually liked very much is “Tristesse”. It kind of reminded me of “Clown in dem Hospiz”, even if this time it sang Farin instead of Bela. It also has rather depressing lyrics, but they are packed into a lively, happy melody. The French passages add a new touch to the whole. Most of the other songs, on the other hand, have something of spoken chanting, boring melodies or even unsuitable varying lyrics. But I would like to go into a few things in more detail here…

In the last album there were two songs, “Liebe gegen Rechts” and “Woodburger”, which are directed against racism, but which were nevertheless well performed by Die Ärzte in a melodic and fun way. Also in this album (and shortly before the federal election) there should be two songs against the right, namely “Anti” and “Doof” – but unfortunately these are neither musically nor interestingly implemented, nor do they have any constructive effect. On the contrary, instead of singing “You have to fight for them, otherwise they are lost” (from “Liebe gegen Rechts”), “Doof” simply says “There is still no gun to kill such stupidity”. Even if this is certainly true, these songs make it very easy for themselves and do not offer any solutions. Apart from the negative tone, I also find the use of suddenly English terms, just so that it rhymes, unfortunately a bit cheap and not creative.

Personally, I also think it’s a shame that Rod only contributed one song to this album and that is “Schrei”. I actually like his songs, like “1/2 Love Song”, “Sex Me, Baby”, “Dinge von Denen” or from the last album “Polyester”, because they always seem somehow socially critical and eloquent at the same time. So “Schrei” is in itself a well instrumentalized song, but I think it would have been better for the song not to scream it (even if based on the title). As a result, it loses some of its original sound.

Otherwise, many songs (especially the ones I rated with C) feel very unkind, because the voices are simply spoken on the melodies or the melodies themselves are quite boring. I also thought I had misheard, but actually the song “Danach” sounds to me like a slightly slower version of “Einmal Ein Bier” (from the album “Hell”) – which I find very uncreative. But I think the song “Einschlag” is even worse. It has a passable melody, but the text is just cheap and does not even begin to do justice to the topic. Die Ärzte captured the subject much better in songs like “Warumska” (from the album “Bäst Of”). Furthermore, I think the choice of the title and the introduction of the song “Our Bass Player hates this Song …” is very bad and does not do justice to the topic of “democracy”, which the song is actually about. So I unfortunately also had to give the song a lower ranking.

If you summarize all of these things, it turns out that “Dunkel” is not a bad album by Die Ärzte at all, but clearly lags behind its predecessor “Hell”. This is a bit of a shame, but it is still very worth listening to and I am glad that the world’s best band can continue to produce good songs!