To the cultured listener, COPPELIUS is the name of the character you love to hate from E.T.A. Hoffman’s 1816 short story “Der Sandmann”. This short story is more than just a tale to scare young children as the father of psychoanalysis himself Dr. Sigmund Freud based his theory of the uncanny on the controversial writing. Uncanny is also the feeling you get after listening to an interesting kammermetal band named also COPPELIUS. If you’re a German speaker, the term “kammermetal” might sound like a very odd combination, de facto COPPELIUS’ music is an odd combination of calming chamber music and an intense raw metal sound by employing classical instruments such as cello, clarinet and double-bass instead of guitars and bass-guitar.
COPPELIUS have been playing live since 1997, however their first EP was released in 2003 and their first album in 2007. What we are looking at today is their second album, released in 2009, 17-track “Tumult!”.
To begin with the presentation chosen for this release would be an understatement. It is obvious that a lot of hard work, artistic effort and aesthetic care were put into this album. We live in a world where packaging can make or break a product and COPPELIUS spared no effort in wrapping their music into a carefully designed cover. The CD comes in a Digibox containing a booklet of lyrics, words of gratitude and specific recording details. The first thing to catch your attention must be the outstanding artwork which seems to be bursting out of the paper and into your very own brand of imagination. Steampunk might have brought the 19th century back to life, but the artwork in “Tumult!” sheds a new light on the German Romanticism just as well as its music sheds a new light on chamber music. The front cover features a fallen chair on a wooden background and a fallen goblet that seems to have spilled blood. There is a spotlight on this image and right above it, one can see the well-known band logo, the top hat, followed by the blood smearing of the album name. The back cover features an interesting image. It looks like the setlist of Italian violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini – who the band carefully strikes out as dead – under the light of two candles.
The first song “Vorwort” is a short spoken prelude in one of the Common Germanic Old Languages – unfortunately we can’t pinpoint which. This is well thought out to induce you into the necessary mood for listening to this crowning jewel of new German metal. The second song “Habgier” is a milestone for kammermetal, featuring an interesting virtuoso clarinet composition which gives sense to crossing out Paganini as dead on the back cover of the album. This song is also last.fm’s top played song in the past six months for COPPELIUS and rightfully so!
The folk-rock inspired “Rightful King” – THE INCHTABOKATABLES cover – tells the bitter blue story of a kind king dethroned by his unfaithful people due to pseudo-prophecy told by one of the king’s servants: “Be careful with this golden man / Before you all will fall down / […] They took their swords and killed him”. It’s odd that people compare this album to SUBWAY TO SALLY releases as the only common denominator is probably the fact that two SUBWAY TO SALLY members contributed on the album as musicians, but in a matter of composition, the music styles are distinct.
“Mondeslicht” serves more as a concise poem than a track, but builds up the album gracefully. IRON MAIDEN fans can also get a treat with this album because of the remarkable cover version of “Charlotte the Harlot”. The track to tickle most sense and most surely your emotional one is surely “Die Glocke” which tells the story of lost love on a low tempo composition. This song also has a classical rock feeling to it set by the drum line.
It feels wrong to take this album apart and describe each song by itself. The album altogether creates a unique sentiment; it sets a nostalgic mood – an uncanny nostalgic mood. COPPELIUS’ music makes you feel as if you lived at the turn of the 20th century and you remember it just like you remember going to the cinema with your parents for the first time. There is an elegant sour sweet feeling you get from listening to the classical composition mixed with metal drums, but the cherry that tops this sour sweet cake is produced most likely by the lyrics which would probably serve better in an historic poetry booklet.
The origins of COPPELIUS’ music are not presented, but the outcome feels like a completed challenge in the quest for a new interesting metal sound. “Tumult!” begs to be seen, heard and felt as a homogenous composition worth more than the words in this review.
Label: F.A.M.E. Recording
Release date: January 30th 2009
01. Vorwort – 0:41
02. Habgier – 3:34
03. Rightful King – 3:07
04. Zu Dir – 3:18
05. Komposition – 3:05
06. Der Advokat – 3:07
07. Schoene Augen – 3:33
08. Die Glocke – 3:52
09. Mondeslicht – 0:36
10. Coppelia – 3:51
11. Lilienthal – 2:47
12. Charlotte The Harlot – 4:22
13. Das Amulett – 2:17
14. Viel Zu Viel – 3:44
15. Spring Doch – 3:00
16. Gedicht – 3:42
17. Nachwort – 0:42
Max Coppella – Vocals, Clarinet
Graf Lindorf – Vocals, Cello
Comte Caspar – Clarinet, Vocals
Sissy Voss – Double-Bass
Nobusama – Drums
Bastille – Butler, Vocals, Drums, Refreshments etc.