Apocalyptic goth-punk isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. In fact, if I was being totally honest with you (and I’m an honest kind of guy), I’d probably say that it’s not exactly right up my street either. So will Cold In Berlin‘s debut album Give Me Walls be strong enough to overcome such harsh preconceptions?
Well, it certainly wastes no time in getting down to business, opening with the gloriously explicit ‘God I Love You’, which contains one of the best/worst/most offensive (delete as appropriate) opening lines ever, as frontwoman Maya yelps “I had a girl and she was perfect // So I decided I would fuck her.” The razor-sharp, punk-influenced guitars of ‘God I Love You’ are continued elsewhere on ‘Destruction’ and ‘Your Noise’ – but they take on a rather more unsettling tone on ‘What Went Wrong’ and the first half of ‘Break My Bones’. Meanwhile, ‘Powerful Woman’ borrows more heavily from the snarling visceral energy of 80s punk rock, and is all the more appealing for its simplicity.
On a more downbeat note, ‘Inertia’ is initially more fuzzy and suitably lethargic, but soon displays a dark, electro-influenced side to Cold In Berlin. This is explored further by ‘If You Take Me Apart’ and ‘Total Fear’, the latter of which is slightly more restrained than the rest of the album, but no less tense or twisted, as Maya is quick to remind us with the stark imagery of “Let’s crack your ribcage // I will twist and slip inside.”
But, very occasionally, Cold In Berlin allow the listener a fleeting glimpse of something that comes fairly close to empathy, such as during the middle section of ‘White Horse’, as Maya sighs “Oh you’re alone // Oh, so alone.” However, if you think that Cold In Berlin are going soft, you can get that silly little idea out of your head, as before too long a wail of feedback and a machine gun drum-fill mark the end of their contemplative mood as they come crashing back into the chorus with the charming refrain of “There is no white horse // You’re a stupid little fucker if you thought there was.” Heartwarming stuff.
Although there’s elements of punk, grunge, goth and electro on show here, it’s all glued together by the sheer brutal intensity of every song. Maya’s vocals have a cohesive effect on the record too; sounding like Karen O possessed by the spirit of Patti Smith, she’s charismatic, vehement and, if I’m being totally honest, a little bit frightening. At just over half an hour long, Give Me Walls is a brief but relentlessly exhilarating experience. OK, so it might not be ground-breaking stuff, but with so much filth and ferocity crammed into just ten tracks, who cares?