It’s ironic that on a morning when I awake to find the house and garden shivering under several inches of frost that I should be reviewing a band called COLD IN BERLIN, but then life is full of such bizarre co-incidences.
Besides, if you need a band with the ability to give you a jumpstart, then Cold in Berlin is surely the RAC of Modern Punk. Their spiky, uncompromising sound is enough to hotwire your blood and gets you moving from nought to sixty in an adrenalized five seconds.
This London-based quartet have got this far by doing it the way it should still be done, careening around one venue after another on the toilet circuit for the past two years. Their debut album ‘Give Me Walls’ ably demonstrates that they have cut their teeth and know their shit in a big ass way. It comprises ten multi-voltage shocks to the system over a just right 32 minutes and it hurts real, real good.
Opener ‘God I Love You’ gets right up in your face. It fades in on an ominous drone, before clanking, tribal beats and subterranean growls of bass lines smash through the foundations and niggly guitars bite and spit. It’s the perfect abrasive backdrop for vocalist My to assert herself and she soon does so, coming on like an unholy trinity of Siouxsie Sioux, Pauline Murray and Jemina from Be Your Own Pet. Before the aural assault has wound down, she howls “please don’t leave me by myself!” in such a way as you’d be thinking of locking up the matches, knives and kitchen implements before you invite her in for coffee.
There’s precious little let-up from thereon in, but – crucially- CIB realise that melody and invention can walk the line with scuzz and dissonance. Brutal rushes of sound and My’s day-glo, expletive-ridden delivery are always high on the agenda, but plot and dynamics are always present, even when barely contained animal lust is on the lyrical agenda, as it is on ‘If You Take Me Apart’ (“you’ll have everything you crave/ get on the floor, let’s misbehave”) and during the twisted heaviosity of ‘Your Noise’.
Musically, ye olde bass, guitar and drums pretty much set the pace, but the production is spot on and tension-building arrangements like the slow-grind-meets-psychotic melee tempo shifts of ‘Inertia’ and the dummy –selling discoid beats and clipped, Post-Punk guitars of ‘Total Fear’ prove how much life remains in the formula when left in capable young hands. To these ears, the album’s major tour de forces are the desperate, but articulate ‘White Horse’ and the closing ‘Powerful Woman’. This latter is perhaps the best of all, a Tasmanian devil whirlwind of Pop-Punk featuring a seductive bass line which ought to come with a government health warning.
Like all good would be Rock icons, Cold In Berlin come brandishing a manifesto. Theirs reads like a simple updating of British Punk’s First wave, stating “no hope, no future, just noise.” A bit simplistic, maybe, but when the noise they create is so frenetically joyous, I can almost subscribe to such wanton nihilism.
Cold In Berlin online