Hailing from Berlin Engst are a hard band to pigeon-hole. A quick listen to them and you want to quickly place them on a list with Fall Out Boy or Panic At The Disco. But when you actually sit down and listen more intently to their debut album, Flachenbrand (which translates to Major Fire), there is something that separates them from that pop-punk herd that has risen in popularity over the years.
The pop-punk genre often comes under fire from music lovers. It’s seen as a genre where the bands are often there for the popularity rather than for the music itself. That is something that certainly can’t be said about Engst. If the band wanted popularity they could have cashed in on the result of their lead singer Matthias Engst winning a television music show, instead he refused the record deal that would have turned him into a pop singer and formed Engst instead.
The musical talents of Engst are there to hear all throughout Flachenbrand. Catchy tracks like ‘Ich Steh Wieder Auf’ and ‘Der Moment’ do sound a lot like you would expect from a Fall Out Boy album but then you get into the faster-paced and more gruff ‘Eskalieran’ which shows a more mature side to the band as Engst’s vocals sound like pained howls.
The experimental side of Engst shows itself with ‘Optimisten’ which begins with pop-like whistling before turning into a good alternative rock track while ‘Ein Sommer In Den Charts’ has an electronic opening that becomes a catchy anthem with the wailing guitars of Ramin Tehrani lifting everything to a new level.
The album does have a very schizophrenic side to it with every track seemingly having its own personality. There is the short and sweet ‘Der Konig’, the tight pop punk sound of ‘Fremdes Elend’ through to the more aggressive ‘Mit Raketen auf Spatzen.’ Perhaps the standouts though are the experimental sounding ‘Morgen Geht Die Welt Uner’ which sees the instruments all coming together with the force of a speeding train and ‘Ist Mir Egal’ which feels like a Nickelback style rock track.
The fact that Flachenbrand is all in German might make it hard sell outside of Germany but for fans of good pop-punk this is an album that you might want to check out. As a label Arising Empire have delivered some gems this year and Engst are another band that you feel will only get better as the years go on.