Gegengift (10 Jahre Jubiläumsedition)

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These guys give primitive a good name. Gegengift is a shamelessly predictable slab of rock, but while most bands sound this way because they cannot pull out a better act, Frei.Wild do it because they don't care -- and pack enough energy to make the audience not care, either. They come from punk, but the likes of Offspring and blink-182 would look like real wimps compared to these guys, who draw their inspiration instead from Böhse Onkelz and Die Toten Hosen. The record has more testosterone than a wrestling match, but applies it better -- there is no machismo here, and no self-righteous angst either (to speak of Die Toten Hosen): if anything, the guys live up to their name, which translates as "Free Wild." This is punk that bikers could enjoy, and in fact, it draws as much on hard rock and heavy metal -- simple riffs have a ton of power to them, almost the Motörhead way, as do the raw, abrasive vocals, which are also the best proof of the band's integrity: frankly, you can't fake that roar. But Frei.Wild also offer plenty of gloriously primitive hooks that even some of the post-grunge bands wouldn't mind trading a kidney for, and use their power to hammer those hooks into memory. As said before, it's predictable to the bone -- most of the time they simply romp through the loud riffs, though you also find a ballady breather, a quirkier tune, a stylistic excursion (in this case, the bluesy patriotic hymn "Wahre Werte"), and the piano closer exactly where you expect them. But frankly, this is part of the charm: Gegengift is not about subtlety, it's about sheer rock force, and few bands pack more of it into one minute of music than Frei.Wild.

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