Record Review: Farmer Boys - Born Again

"Born Again" - the Farmer Boys couldn't have chosen a more fitting title for their first album since "The Other Side" in 2004. Indeed, we witness a resurgence that many were hoping for and that brings back one of Germany's most important and authentic bands fueled by heavy guitar riffs.

Before we got into the musical details of the long awaited life sign that is "Born Again", a little bit of context for those who may not be familiar with the band. 

                                                             Foto: Stefan Heilemann
Farmer Boys were founded in 1994 in the state capital of Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart, which is often said to be a bit lamer than, for example more glamourous German cities such as Munich or of course the ever oh so vibrant Metropolis Berlin. But make no mistake, Stuttgart has its perks (and I'm not just saying that because it is the city I was born in). Singer Matthias Sayer and guitar player Alex Scholpp (who you might know as a live musician touring with Ex-Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen) have been the backbone of the band since then, and the first two albums ("Countrified" and "Till The Cows Come Home") dealt with the cruelty animals have to suffer before they end up on our plates. They both carried nods to George Orwells "Animal Farm" and the debut album finished with an exuberant cover of Depeche Mode's "Never Let Me Down Again" (with Co-Vocals from Anneke von Giersbergen who was lead singer of The Gathering back then). With "The World Is Ours" the band made their commercial breakthrough in 2000. The record peaked at number 27 in the German charts and the single "Here Comes The Pain" is still one of the most popular songs of the band. The band came to be known for mixing modern metal sounds with nods to New Wave and Pop - shredding guitars and bittersweet melodies. 2004, "The Other Side" followed - and then after some festival shows the band went on a hiatus without ever really calling it quits. No one quite knew why, because the band had toured with bands like Rammstein, Metallica and the Deftones. While Sayer moved to the USA and composed movie scores (he workd in the studio of soundtrack giant Hans Zimmer, Alex Scholpp joined Tarjas band and was quite busy with a number of other musical projects. 2011, fans were given a spark of hope when the band played at the Summer Breeze Metal Festival in Southern Germany, and the clips on Youtube were showered with praise. It came as a surprise then, when the band announced their return in 2016 - with a brand new album on the horizon. "Born Again" for sure. 

And boy, do the Farmer Boys knock it out of the park. They pick up where they've left off but at the same time the musicians have refined their style. "Cosmos" works as an epic intro and features cello sounds by former Apocalyptica member Max Lilja, then "Faint Lines" starts off with a heavy riff. The song shows the signature style that made the band so popular in the first place: heaviness combined with bright melodies. So does "Fiery Skies" with its up-tempo guitars and a blazing tapping solo.

"You And Me" decelerates the speed and generates momentum with an epic chorus. "Isle Of The Dead" gives the guitars a break and starts off with piano (by Keyboard player Richard Düe) and strings (again Max Lilja). The band says the song is inspired by the eponymous painting by Arnold Böcklin and the musical interpretation of Sergei Rachmaninov. You can tell how the band has thought through how they want to arrange the songs. With "Tears Of Joy" the record gathers speed again and "Mountains", a short interlude, sets the stage for the next five songs. They include epic midtempo bangers ("Stars", "Oblivion"), dynamic changes within one song ("In The Last Days") and the wake-up call "Revolt". The title track works as an epic exclamation mark at the very end of the album. With its movie score vibes it shows how much Matthias Sayer's work in this field does for the Farmer Boys.

The lyrics of the album have a very apocalyptic mood and reflect on the dark times we live in - without ever getting too specific. Which system ("You and Me") and what comes after the revolution ("Revolt")? That's a question I would want to see answered in interviews. By the way: The cover hints at the 2000 record "The World Is Ours" in a very clever way.

"Born again" is just the record we've been dreaming of. It doesn't sound dated at all and while some bands tend to make weaker records when they come back, this one is a statement. While keeping their strengths, the Farmer Boys add new facets to their signature sound and reconquer their throne. We're excited about what's to come.

"Born Again" will be out on November 2nd via Arising Empire. For more information on the band, visit their official web page.

You can watch the clip for "You And Me" here: