Album Review: “Hell” by Die Ärzte

Those who know me know that I am a big fan of Die Ärzte. Normally I listen to J-Pop almost exclusively in the form of various Anime Openings and Endings, but when it comes to German language music, I have only listened to all albums of this band and a large part of my playlist consists of songs from Die Ärzte.

Now that more than 8 years have passed since the last album, I, like many other fans, was over the moon when the doctors announced a new album and a tour after all. I immediately got myself tickets… but unfortunately all concerts in 2020 were cancelled due to Corona and postponed to 2021, where they will hopefully take place (fingers crossed). Despite the given circumstances the new album could be released on 23.10. and now I want to write a little review with my personal ranking of the songs.

Although I was very excited about the album, I was afraid that it would be a flop. That’s because I think that the double album “Geräusch” from 2004 was the best album and since then the new records have gotten worse and worse. They still had 1 or 2 hit songs, but overall I was a bit disappointed. I also found the music videos of the last album “auch” from 2012 a bit boring and rather unimaginative. In general I was more likely to find better versions of old classics like “Zu Spät” or “Männer sind Schweine” than to build on the new songs. So I found the 3 CD collection “They’ve Given Me Schrott!”, which was released in 2019, refreshing and contained some alternative versions of the old songs. The new music videos of the singles “Morgens Pauken” and “True Romance” were visually very well realized, but in relation to the songs I found them rather average. Nevertheless, to anticipate, I found the new album “Hell” anything but disappointing.

My Review

As mentioned before, I would like to make a kind of personal ranking of the songs on the new album. Therefore I have divided the songs into 4 classes from A to D. A are permanent for me. That means songs that I can listen to in a loop until I get fed up with them. B are good songs that I can hear more often. C I can listen to once, but they have nothing special for me. And D… well, they are a flop for me. I absolutely don’t have to listen to them again.

Before I present my ranking, it might be interesting to know what is important for me in a good (doctors) song. On the one hand it is important for me to have a catchy melody, which is characteristic and doesn’t sound like 0815 Gedudel. On the other hand it is the lyrics, which can of course have a positive effect on a song, for example if they are political, ingeniously funny or can address another topic in an interesting way. But the song will only be perfect if both harmonize together. I don’t like it at all when suddenly the rhythm of a song changes and/or the singing doesn’t stick to the melody or doesn’t follow a stanzaic form with chorus.

Enough about my ranking system and how I rate – here is a list of how I would rate the songs on the album. The reason why the songs within the classes A to D are still in a certain order is that I wanted to sort them here according to my taste. But the differences are not that strong.

When I started to listen to the album I thought my fears would come true because the first four songs were all quite below average. That changed abruptly from the sixth song “Das Letzte Lied Des Sommers”. This one reminded me a lot of “Westerland”, but it also has its own advantages. I find it really refreshing. Furthermore, the song “Ich, Am Strand” surprised me, especially because it starts relatively happy or neutral in mood, but is sinking more and more in line with life, thus addressing an important social issue. This one reminded me a bit of “Unter Wasser” by Farin Urlaub, although I even like this song a bit better. But I was totally carried away by the song “Clown Aus Dem Hospiz”. Not only does it have a very critical theme with regard to the arts, artists and the external perception of those, the melody is also beautifully realized with accompanying violin. The only thing that bothers me about this song is that it doesn’t have a “happy end” in the form of singing: “You are alone, soon you will have no more juice. That’s the way it has to be.” Maybe it would have been better to sing at the end “It doesn’t have to be like this” or something like that? That way it has a rather negative effect.

Besides the already released singles, there were other good songs for me in rank B. Here I would like to emphasize “Liebe gegen Rechts” and “Woodburger”, which, as you can already see from the title, are both against right-wing and right-wing populism, like “Schrei nach Liebe” back then. Here I like especially in the first song the allusion to “And today she only has a window tattoo”, where I only understood what is meant with the second time I thought about it. The country melody also brings a fresh new wind into the song list of the doctors. The second song, on the other hand, takes a more serious but also extremely silly approach to the topic, which is primarily due to the chorus, which in most lyrics is not written out in full, or even rewritten. But I could well imagine that this song could become the third single of the album.

Although I personally “only” ranked “B” in my “Morgens Pauken” and “True Romance” ranking, I find the decision to release them as the first singles quite understandable, or even typical for the doctors. The first song has something very rough and rocking, similar to “Unrockbar” or “Junge”. Typical first hard serves. The second song is a bit quieter, like “Dinge von Denen” or “1/2 Love Song”. That’s why I realistically imagine that “Woodburger” will be the third single, because it’s rather funny, like “Die klügsten Männer der Welt” back then.

My overall conclusion is that the album surprised me very much and is very convincing with many good songs. I’m already looking forward to 2021, when the “In The Ä Tonight” tour will take place and will not only offer old classics, but also many new hits.