Schlagenheim is the debut studio album from English rock band Black Midi, released in June 2019. It was recorded at Mr. Dan's Studio in London over a 5-day period in November 2018.
During recording, the band made the conscious decision not to replicate their live set, embellishing their four-piece set up with synthesizers, sequences, drum machines, banjos & organs.
Lead vocalist & guitarist Geordie Greep initially wanted to call the album Hellfire, which ultimately became the title of their 3rd studio album in 2022 (which was fantastic).
It was a moderate commercial success, peaking at No. 43 in the UK Albums Chart. It received critical acclaim, having been described as "everything from thrilling to frustrating". It was nominated for the 2019 Mercury Prize.
I was introduced to Black Midi through RYM just over a year ago, having heard their single Welcome to Hell & being blown away by it. It instantly made me excited for their album when it released, and yes, Hellfire was a thrill ride.
Their music is of the experimental rock genre, combinging together elements of the likes of post-punk, noise rock & jazz fusion. You never know what's coming when it comes to the energy and musically eccentric attitude these guys have to show on their albums.
So what does Schlagenheim have to offer in terms of a debut album from one of the best rising bands from the UK? Well, the answer is... 43mins of pure unhinged experimental brilliance! From start to end, chaos is unleashed upon the listener from every corner that you're simply just unprepared for what the band have in store.
The vocals from Geordie, Cameron & Matt all have their own balance of range; from the likes of deadpan ("Speedway") to unhinged and loud (especially on the tracks "Reggae" and "Of Schlagenheim"), it all fits rather nicely with the album's overall energy to me.
I love the instrumentation throughout here, as the guitar riffs have a nice brooding nature to them. Other times they can gradually become so hectic & the drums just come crashing upon you and it's like the wildest adrenaline rush you could ask for. Considering the album was recorded in 5hr long sessions over that aforementioned 5 day period, it makes more sense as to why Schlagenheim sounds so crazy. And I'll admit, I got jumpscared a few times from the riffs jist being so loud and unexpected.
The highlight of this album for me is easily Morgan Simpson's drum work; it's absolutely brilliant throughout, being so kinetic and full of sharp punches & flavour to it. I can only imagine hiw crazy it would be to watch him performing live, it'd likely be hectic in the best way.
Schlagenheim is 43mins of unhinged rock music that has all the right aspects to make for a great album that's full of wicked spark, wild vocals & insane instrumententation that easily showcases Black Midi as one of the best bands the UK has right now, especially impressive for their album too.