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Alter Der Ruine – The Giants From Far Away

Alter Der Ruine - The Giants From Far Away

CD, Crunch Pod, 2009

This is not at all what you might expect. If you don’t know Alter der Ruine, you may have been misled into thinking that “Giants From Far Away” is a serious record, covering serious topics – after all, the band’s own description of the record paints pictures of massive human drama, complete with love, lust, betrayal and bloodshed… Even the cover art hints at some mythic struggle. If, however, you were already familiar with these sonic maniacs, you may have been fooled into thinking they were trying a new musical direction: the opening strains of “A Plea for the Dawn / Cries for the Giants From Far Away” are nothing short of monumental soundtrack stuff – the kind of thing you may expect from film scores for summer blockbusters. Two minutes in, however, and all thoughts of this nature are summarily dispelled as it descends into a vortex of discordant chaos.
And everything goes downhill from there…
Honestly, Alter der Ruine are very good at making contemporary technoise. They just happen to be equally skilled at finding arbitrary nonsense to compose music about. Songs like “Demon Missile” and “Dark Cheats” may be fairly standard industrial fare, but then you have constructs like “Perfect Date” (built around a vocal sample where someone describes his dream woman as having ‘great big ovaries and fallopian tubes’) vying for the “Dude, What the Fuck?” award with “Stuffin’ the Jellyroll Muffin”. I’m all for sex as valid subject matter, but I fail to see the connection between a woman bending over and a jelly doughnut.
Despite all this craziness, Alter der Ruine have still managed to make a record that’s fun to listen to. It’s not as dark and full-of-itself as many of its contemporaries, but I think that’s where its appeal lies: it’s noncommittal, good for a few laughs and brashly obnoxious. In fact, it’s a great backtrack for the kind of parties you feel guilty about attending afterwards, which is most likely exactly what Alter der Ruine set out to achieve with “Giants From Far Away”. Grinding beats and rough as hell. What more could you actually want from modern industrial?


— David vander Merwe

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