You don’t have to be born in the ‘80s to sound like Robert Smith and the Smiths.
Max Gruber is only 22 years old but he grew up listening to obscure post-punk and new wave acts, later incorporating them into his musical DNA. Although he did not listen that much to the Cure or Joy Division in his youth, he speaks their language like few do today.
The name of his band, “Drangsal”, translates as tribulation. From the tattooed forearm on the cover of their debut “Harieschaim”, to song titles like “Der Ingrimm” (an archaic word for “anger”) and “Do the Dominance”, to the gothic video for the album’s lead single “Allan Align” – everything alludes to the feeling of suffering one can hear in the music.
The references are in place, but Gruber is never simply a second-hand Robert Smith. His singing is pure distress while the guitars range from desperate to furious. The drums sound appropriately flat, giving the songs that ‘80s feeling you like so much. Hell, he even looks like a young punk fed up with life or the establishment or some other dominant entity!
“Harieschaim” is only 32 minutes long, much like the Cure’s debut “Three Imaginary Boys”. In Drangsal’s case, it’s the fact that the ten songs are at the same time full of emotion and very poppy that makes it such a short but rewarding listen.
If you’re looking for a bunch of young’uns expressing their feelings through music with a gothic touch, Drangsal is a good place to start.
Stream “Harieschaim” on Spotify.
Photo: Miriam Marlene Waldner