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September 29th, 2003

MUSIC: Hanzel und Gretyl

by J.J. Connelly

Hanzel und Gretyl at Don Hill’sI’ve heard it said that the German language is a very hard language to put to music. The harsh inflections and gutteral pronunciations seem to have limited appeal to those who would write romantic poetry and set it to music. Of course, to fans of industrial music, German lyrics only add to the flavor to the hard-hitting, headbanging sounds of bands like Hanzel Und Gretyl. The American-born, New York City-based band uses a combination of German and English lyrics to complement their music. Air raid sirens and sound effects usually found in a war film are also part of their sound.

When the band took the stage at Don Hill’s, it was the last show of a 28-show tour which travelled the continental United States. While on the road they had to deal with everything from bad weather and sickness to local laws which prohibited them playing louder than 95 decibles. You might think that by the time they returned home to downtown NYC they’d be burned out and too pooped to rock. Untrue. Despite all the setbacks, which included a last minute change of venue for the show, Hanzel Und Gretyl fans got exactly what they came for.

Dressed in a combination of latex, leather and liederhosen, Hanzel Und Gretyl opened up with “Overture,” “Third Reich From The Sun” and “SS Deathstar Supergalactic” from their latest album “Uber Alles.” Despite the last minute venue change and a lack of advertising, the band’s faithful following managed to get the word out and pack the house. The enthusiasm of these fans is almost fanatical. Many of them chose to wait outside in less than perfect weather conditions rather than listen to the other acts that preceded Hanzel Und Gretyl. Their patience was rewarded as the band played song after song, never stopping to so much as say hello to the crowd. The absence of that formality went unnoticed by most. It’s been a long time since this band has toured, and their fans were hungry.

Hanzel Und Gretyl are far from a new band. They’ve had a cult following since 1993, this despite little or no radio airplay, no mainstream video exposure, and limited print exposure. They’ve opened up for such acts as Rob Halford and Marilyn Manson in the past, but now it’s their turn to headline. While I hate to admit it, I’ve only discovered this band recently. In fact it was only because of a strange set of coincidences that I ended up at this show. I’m glad I did. I have every intention of catching them the next time they play and if you’re a fan of hard-hitting, high energy rock?ɬn’roll, then I suggest you do the same. While the show at Don Hill’s was the last show of this tour, I’m sure there will be more to come. Keep your eyes peeled and don’t miss out. You can find out more about H.U.G. at their website: www.hanzelundgretyl.com

By the way, in my last column I gave a rave review to the new Hate In The Box CD but neglected to tell you where to pick it up. You can buy Hate In The Box CDs and T-shirts at “The Machine,” 85 Stanton Street, between Orchard and Allen Streets, just one block south of Houston. You can also get copies of the SoHo Journal there. If you’re not in the SoHo area, you can check their website, www.hateinthebox.com, for their latest releases.

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | New York

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