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Atrocity: Werk 80 II

If the idea of metal bands doing covers albums is starting to wear thin, then Werk 80 II is certainly not going to change your opinion on them. Longtime German extreme metal band Atrocity have taken 12 80's new wave/dance/pop hits, and given them a gothic metal spin here, which for some might be a work of pure genius, but for fans of the band's more extreme fare this sequel to 1997's Werk 80 might seem like another complete debacle. Don't expect any of Atrocity's crushing death metal here, not by a long shot. This is safe, symphonic gothic metal, plain and simple, with clean male & female vocals over crunchy riffs and loads of symphonic keyboards. In a few instances, the band actually gives new life to some of these songs, like the Depech Mode classic "People Are People", "Fade to Grey" by Visage, and "Relax" from Frankie Goes to Hollywood, each one with pumping rhythms and symphonic & heavy arrangements. However, for the most part the results here are somewhat sappy and heavy handed, as the band seems to be trying too hard to retain the original feel of these songs and, and in the end they have lost all resemblance to Atrocity the band. We want to know that this is Atrocity playing these songs, but on almost every tune here they come across as a faceless band trying to mimick an 80's new wave act. Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget About Me" and the Eurythmics "Here Comes the Rain Again" are perfect examples of this-there's just no Atrocity stamp at all to these pieces. Where's the growls? Where's the screams? Where's the mammoth guitar riffage? They come close on "Hey Little Girl" by Icehouse, but it's not nearly enough. Some of the keyboard work is actually the highlight here, especially on A-Ha's "The Sun Always Shines on TV" which will instantly remind you of Nightwish. In actuality, there lies the problem. Atrocity seems more concerned here trying to comes across as how Nightwish, Epica, or After Forever (sans the lead female vocals of course, although there are plenty of those here) would sound if they were to do something similar. It just seems that Atrocity have once again taken a big gamble with Werk 80 II, one that might pay off slightly with the goth crowd who happen to love the hits of the 80's, but there's no doubt their extreme metal fans are going to really be confused with this one, just as they were a decade ago.

Track Listing
01. People Are People (DEPECHE MODE)
02. Smalltown Boy (BRONSKI BEAT)
04. Don't You (Forget About Me) (SIMPLE MINDS)
05. The Sun Always Shines on TV (A-HA)
06. Hey Little Girl (ICEHOUSE)
07. Fade To Grey (VISAGE)
08. Such A Shame (TALK TALK)
09. Keine Heimat (IDEAL)
10. Here Comes The Rain Again (EURYTHMICS)
11. Forever Young (ALPHAVILLE)
12. Feels Like Heaven (FICTION FACTORY)

Added: March 10th 2008
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Atrocity Website
Hits: 2649
Language: english

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Atrocity: Werk 80 II
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2008-03-10 06:51:04
My Score:

Cover albums! Again with the cover albums is the first thought that crossed my mind, yet before I delve into this one let me clue you in on a little secret. Even though I like to consider myself as tried and true to the Metal cause as possible, it was during the early eighties that I also enjoyed quite a bit of what was going on with some of the New Wave bands of the time. Such was the case of being a viewer of early MTV where the Hard Rock, Metal and New Wave all shared the same broadcast times. This music was all the rage during that MTV hoopla time and the vinyl still exists in the basement of my family home to prove it. So based on this I found listening to Werk 80 II by Atrocity a little more interesting for me but don't get me wrong here because I never sat back and wondered how a Billy Idol or Duran Duran track would sound if an Extreme Death Metal band had tried their hand at it. With all this being said welcome to Werk 80 II - the spawn of the bands first exploration into this idea of classic New Wave, Dance Hall and Pop classics given the Heavy Gothic once over. These types of releases are becoming a little bit too common nowadays and there are those who are viewing the idea as the death knell in the artist's creative process while others maintain it's the band simply saying "I loved these songs and always wanted to perform them for my fans". With this release I feel that perhaps we are seeing a little bit of both because while its cool to want to deliver popular songs that you recall from your past this is not the best way to increase one's fan base when you are most known for delivering crushing Extreme Metal with Symphonic overtones.

Atrocity begins this weird adventure with Depeche Mode's "People Are People" and while it's a good tune it was rather difficult to absorb that this is the same band that gave us Atlantis just prior to this. As I skip around the CD to songs I remembered myself I found that I enjoyed "Don't You Forget About Me" (the Simple Minds staple) and "The Sun Always Shines On TV", an offering by A-Ha. As this one played through I smiled and wondered why the band didn't try to get "Take On Me" instead as it's a much better and more popular tune. I kept envisioning the original video with a presence such as Alex Krull's in it. To be honest this move to the Gothic side might work well for Atrocity based on the band Leaves Eyes, which features all the bands members and Alex Krull's wife Liv Kristine but I don't think that presenting cover tunes is the best way to ease their existing fans into the premise. The band released the first volume of covers back in 1997 and it was well-documented about this causing some uproar with their supporters. Such a response made me wonder if a second edition was a smart idea. Despite the reservations the band keeps a rather consistent driving beat on many of the songs which makes them work together well and I while I didn't know some of the songs by bands such as Bronski Beat and Visage who were more popular over in Europe than the US I felt their renditions sounded good enough. Liv Kristine makes an appearance prominently on "Fade To Grey" and offers up some backing vocals on many of the other tunes as well. There is a melodramatic heaviness across the album which the more crushing numbers such as "Such A Shame" and "Keine Heimat", a tune which touches upon the bands Death Metal roots. With "Here Comes The Rain Again" I felt that musically it was a tight choice but it would have been great to have Liv sing this one as opposed to Alex. Perhaps they wanted to have a male vocal on their rendition but I felt it could have worked better had she executed the song. The adventure closes out with "Forever Young" which I rather liked and for me when the whole thing was done I felt that I would have liked it a whole lot more if this was not issued as an Atrocity album but instead an Alex Krull solo effort. The bottom line is that while enjoyable at times the question remains as to whether their long time fans will get it as far as understanding goes and keep the faith that the group shall return to heavier pastures in the not too distant future. Only time will tell.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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