Label: Hicktown Records
Date: November 24th, 2023
Have you ever wondered why certain music genres don’t swim, or travel much at all? Especially (though not exclusively) once trademarked in USA. Take grunge, as best example. Not only has it failed to spill over Europe, but it didn’t even leak far from Seattle. I’m not talking about acceptance among audiences around the world, but specifically about the appearance of similar bands following in the originator’s footsteps. We all know Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were global superstars and still remain the same status. But bands of the same provenance or even remotely as successful never emerged across the ocean. Even in North America, apart of the brief grunge revival in the new millennium, there was nobody to carry the torch.
Nu metal had the same geographical grouping in North America with very few and much less inspired followers in European bands. Not to mention the other continents.
In the opposite direction, Americans were much more accepting of novelties coming from the old continent. Most stuff that swam to USA firmly stuck and lead a fruitful life there. Even such locally based musical styles such as brit-pop. Though it took a bit of time for it to leave a considerable imprint, nowadays we have groups whose roots are firmly set in the aftermath of Oasis, Blur or The Verve.
With all of the above in mind, here’s a trio from Augsburg, Germany, performing a blend of America’s greatest contributions to rock music in the past three decades. Literally, from grunge, nu metal, alternative and indie rock, to glam. It really is hard to imagine them growing up in a country of traditional hard rock, heavy or thrash metal and not just because of the impeccable English accent of their vocalist.
Untamed sounds like its name suggests. Most of the time, at least. They’ve got the badass attitude that surrounded the golden days of Mötley Crüe woven in their sound. Coupled with the emotional recklessness of Foo Fighters, it brings about an explosive mix. But wait, that’s not all. Listening closely, you can definitely spot a few Papa Roach touches, especially from that weird middle section of their career (“I Almost Told You That I Love You” vibe). There’s also a subtle southern groove influence, alike the one Ryan McCombs used to bring with him into Soil early on and Drowning Pool mid-career. Then again, there’s a gentler, somewhat melancholic side to Untamed. Noticeably, Nickelback springs to mind. While with the Canadians, hard rocking part of Untamed’s sound seems to stem from Danko Jones, much rather than from the geographically expected Scorpions.
I mentioned above that the Germans are an untamed rocking machine for most of the time. And for a good reason, because their self-titled debut contains a full-on power ballad, titled “Can You Hear Me”. Piano and all. Evanescence, but without the female part. Somewhat along the same line is “Euthanize Myself”, which comes later on, but it remains a whole notch heavier than “Can You Hear Me”. And not just because it doesn’t include the piano.
By the way, those two are firm indicators of vocal versatility of which Nigel is capable. For instance, right after the first slow mover, “Can You Hear Me”, there a song which is its stark contrast. The rough and almost rude “Sex Tape”. The man is definitely up to the task of rabid consumer of female flesh, as much as a hopeless romantic (and a whole lot more, since the choice of topics covered is fairly wide). Whatever is necessary at a particular moment. Furthermore, Nigel is extremely expressive and convincing as a vocalist, which only goes to show he sings from an honest position, really believing the words coming out of his mouth.
And speaking of musicianship here, there’s no nuclear science when it comes to Untamed. They’re down-to-Earth, going for the songs’ impact instead of showing off the individual skills. They’ve profoundly studied the music they want to perform. The sheer range of their influences can serve as a proof for such claims. Untamed collected a whole lot of data, understood it correctly and applied it towards creating tracks that easily stick to listeners’ minds. They’re catchy, driving, relatable, emotionally stabilized… There’s no objection to craftsmanship I can think of, whatsoever.
Even the performance is, without a shadow of doubt, powerful and energetic. It is strongly felt that the boys can take this delivery onto the stage, moving the crowd into pandemonium. In my mind, a mid-sized, smelly beer tavern would erupt with Untamed taking to the stage. Nigel behind the microphone is easily imagined as a frontman that can command the audience at will. Dynamism behind Flems’ drumming is the one to keep the intensity throughout the set. The man claims to have learned from David Growl’s style and it is audible within the controlled wilderness with which he approaches the drums. I can almost sympathise with the poor skins being beaten to an inch of their life. Completed with a rock-solid thumping of Danny’s bass guitar, Untamed is a group with a clear goal and a know-how that can take them there.
Now, the question remains whether the world is ready to embrace Untamed. The boys are committed to music which was massive almost two decades ago and thousands of kilometres away from their hometown. As I wrote in the introduction, there’s a geographical pre-determination to certain genres. To already discussed, I can add that even if there were bands from Europe performing a certain style originated in North America, they were extremely rarely accepted in USA. So, the future of this trio is uncertain and I do not dare predict anything. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Untamed’s debut album is a strong outing that will certainly bring joy to those who give it a chance. With a considerable support from Hicktown Records, one cannot see it fail.
But music scene is a heartless bitch that doesn’t always pick fairly. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for these untamed beasts.