What does a young band do after their debut album, two tours with sold-out shows all over Germany a home game in front of 1,500 people? Netflix and ‘Ficken für den Weltfrieden’ or maybe move to ‘Berlin am Meer’? Of course nothing like that, because the five guys from Stuttgart, ANTIHELD, stay true to themselves and their Swabian village-metropolis, go back to the rehearsal room and work on new material.
Quickly, it becomes very clear, where the journey is going, the sound is getting rougher and the ever more personal lyrics pinpoint the mood of a generation, incapable of relationships and politically fragile. Each song is like a slap in the face with a kiss and every line a hug with a knife in the back. Logically and consistently, nothing describes this broken, intoxicating transience better than the new album called »Goldener Schuss«.
But – one step at a time.
After the release of the debut album »Keine Legenden« which took the band to a new level, gave them a taste of the charts and made them known throughout Germany, the five boys wanted to redefine themselves. If you worked towards something for years and completed it successfully, some basic questions come up: Where are we going, what do we want and what does ANTIHELD sound like in 2019?
After a period of pondering and trying out, creating and destroying, everything happens very fast. Singer and songwriter Luca Opifanti bubbles with ideas, within a very short period of time he composes line after line and gets the party started. After the first samples, it becomes clear that the topics become more serious, the emotions a little bit darker and the aftereffects more profound.
Even when the first demos are cobbled together in the rehearsal room, a sound that gets dirty and rotten evolves, but never gets in the way of the song itself. The drums bang, the bass roars, even the acoustic guitar is now hunted by the distortion.
And it’s exactly this sound that they want to bring to the record without detours, without unnecessary overdubs or sound garlands.
“If someone says that we sound exactly like live on the album, that would be the biggest compliment” says drummer Arne Brien.
Producer Marius Fimmel comes from the direct environment, has worked with the band several times and even appeared as substitute guitarist on stage.
“No one has come so close to us over the years, nobody knows us and our sound as well as he does” says the band.
Do-It-Yourself-like, a gigantic sounding gym is converted into a recording studio. The five guys line up in a circle, want to see each other, when they play their parts together on the album.
They do not want to lose any of the energy that otherwise only reigns on stage and thus captures the whole brutal to whispering dynamic of this band.
The ‘Introduktion’ gives us a glimpse of what can be heard on »Goldener Schuss«.
A cracking guitar chord rings in the rough, sharp-edged world of sound and the first lines prepare the listener for topics that hurt.
“Immer wieder abstürzen und dann immer wieder aufraffen – falling, over and over again and get back on your feet, again and again” acts like a mantra that essentially summarizes the circumstances of the life cycle.
Then ‘Ma petite belle’ as the first single shows impressively how deep pain of seperation can rise to a timeless rock song with earwig-qualities, without falling into the love-trash trap.
Also, or maybe just because the material is 100% authentic, as singer and songwriter Luca Opifanti says: “So far in life, only once love has caught me off guard in a way that I could not write for a while. Ma petite belle was the break from my first real writer’s block and the cornerstone of this album.”
Before ‘Goldener Schuss’, the second single and also the namesake of the album, there is again an old acquaintance with the song ‘Präsidenten’. From a spontaneous Facebook post with a vivid video clip on a toilet, the bonus track on the previous album »Keine Legenden« was created. And because right-wing forces and the global hype around populists are more present than ever, this song is once again taken up and provided with a progressive thunderous arrangement.
Like a hymn to hedonism, the next song ‘Herz’ can be understood. When Luca showed his first draft to Henning Wehland and asked for his opinion, he did not get a straight answer and they move from one topic to the next. After a whole day of chit-chatting, he says, “Boy, this song,’Herz’, is the soundtrack of your life.”
Having everything and never wanting to commit to anything, this zeitgeist is carried out without mercy by lines such as “Mein Herz ist hungrig, es schlägt immer so um sich – my heart is hungry, it is always beating around.”
Similarly hymn-like is ‘Find what u love’, which in this case is a laudation on the dedication and passion. “Bedingungslos zu lieben heißt, sich selbst dabei verlieren – to love unconditionally means to lose oneself” sings the tightrope walk on passion together with its power of self-destruction bordering on fanaticism.
‘VII’ sweeps over the listener with a gruff drum and guitar clatter. Henry Kasper‘s accordion also shows the fragile, touching side of the band, which can be experienced more later on the album. Anyone who wonders now how much ANTIHELD has changed gets a few familiar tunes with ‘Mach mirn Kind’. A quick rock’n’roll groove, adoring the spontaneously chosen dream woman on a carefully alcohol-leveled Saturday night, this song is thrilling and already a favorite at ANTIHELD concerts.
This is followed by a very unique momentum, which was not planned and added to the album last minute.
By chance, ‘99 Luftballons’ finds its way into the rehearsal room in the run-up to the production and singer Luca Opifanti understands the seriousness and timeliness of this song even more intensively:
“The moment when I really understood how present this lyrics are today, was special. A mixture of grief and resignation over unchanged but with time only shifted, seemingly unsolvable problems of being human, but somehow also hope, what this song may cause. Always could. I listen to Nena and feel understood. It is an honor to interpret this milestone in our own way.”
With loose ideas in mind, a completely new version with its own verse emerges one night in the studio, criticizing the way the wealthy, Western world deals with the suffering of refugees looking for help.
‘Nie wieder lieben’ is a thoroughly impulsive, uncontrollable “I hate you, your new guy, and everything that has to do with you. But please hug me again” and heralds the final trio, which shows once again the whole tonal dynamic and emotional depth of ANTIHELD.
While ‘Gott’ takes on the desperate search for comfort and purpose in the context of human chasms, ‘Babylon’ becomes even more clear.
Lines like “Ich leb’ alleine hier in Babylon, meiner Stadt aus grauem Stahlbeton. Ich hab mich in ihr verlor’n, brauch’ jede Nacht ein bisschen mehr davon – I live alone here in Babylon, my city of gray concrete. I lost myself inside her, I need a little more of her every night.” say everything about the dark side of the relationship-skeptical generation, which seems to have set up quite okay.
The tentative ending is ‘Sonnenkind’, which has been an integral part of ANTIHELD‘s live set for years.
In honor of a deceased childhood and youth friend, this song is both self-therapy and bittersweet memory.
“The memorial of my best childhood & youth friend. Any positive talk at the merchandise booth after a show about this song, and the personal stories of the listeners, give me the feeling, for a brief moment, that he has not died completely in vain. Thanks for that.” says Luca Opifanti.
The chorus line “Was wir hatten, das kann uns keiner mehr nehmen. So vieles erinnert hier an dich, doch was wir hatten, steht für sich – what we had, nobody can take from us anymore. So much is reminiscent of you here, but what we had stands for itself” unites so much pain and comfort, transience and hope that are so close together that one can hardly decide between gentle smile and bittersweet weeping.
With these emotions the listener is sent off to the bonus tracks, which provide with ‘Vollrausch’ and ‘Mama’ more song material and sometimes remind sound-aesthetically of the roots of the band in street music.
As a special highlight ‘Mach mirn Kind’, ‘Ma petite belle’ and ‘Goldener Schuss’ can be heard again as piano versions, which shows them from a completely different side.
With the album »Goldener Schuss«, the five guys from Stuttgart, ANTIHELD, cut out both a sound statement and a textual statement.
Including the three nicely worked-in interludes, a total of 21 (!) tracks merge into a coherent overall picture that deserves the title concept album.
The development of the band to the top literally jumps at you in all facets, although a reduction and return to the bare core is part of this development.
“I owe this album to myself and my environment,” says Luca Opifanti.
With Arising Empire a strong and competent partner was found who understood and shared the ideas and visions of the band from the beginning.
Luca Opifanti | Vocals & Guitar
André Zweifel | Guitar
Matze Brendle | Bass
Arne Brien | Drums
Henry Kasper | Accordion & Piano