Grausame Töchter An Introduction: Essential Songs

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Grausame Töchter (translated to Cruel Daughters) is a band that sings only in German.

Lead by the enigmatic Aranea Peel, this is a band with one insane live show, latex covered aesthetics, and a permanent “screw you, I know what I want” attitude.

If you do not understand German, then you will not quite understand the brash brutality of their songs, other than through the beats.

Each song of Grausame Töchter may vary widely with it’s tone, going from slow drones to almost upbeat sounding loud pumping songs, so sorrowful string arrangements, but one thing remains constant. A lurking spectre in the background. And this spectre takes the form of a smiling, demonic, man-hating succubus. As hard as it is to pin them down into any particular music genre style, the best is EDM, with a slight Drum and Base influence, more Darkwave and Dark Electro born, alongside female charged vocals, industrial stylings and an undercurrent of sinisterness that comes from a deep down sorrow.

During their stage shows, you are more than likely to be faced with nudity, not for the sake of titillation, but for the purpose of aggression. You will see knives, wonder if they are real, see them cutting off clothing, and then start wondering “wait, are those scars and is that blood real?”

Grausame Töchter is one of the most interesting bands to get into, typically loved by the fetish goths and latex goths. And although, yes, all of their songs are in German (there is no insertion of English words here), the beats of the songs will more than keep you satisfied even if you can’t pay attention to the lyrics.

For getting into Grausame Töchter, these are the songs that are recommended:

Mephisto

Ich bin ein Geist der stets verneint / I am the ghost that is always denied.

Here is the name-dropping song from Grausame Töchter’s first commercially realised album, “Mein Eigentliches Element / My Essential Element.” This is almost the perfect club song from the beats in the background. A slow, slow build up, with isolated drum machines at the start before going onto a more reverb sounding, echoing drum that sounds very much like a party is raining down within a place.

When you are listening to this song, it is easy to imagine yourself just strolling into a dark gothic club, the first tune of the night that is playing as you walk in. And when the echoing drums cut off, to the emerging, rising from the depths, base, to the deep, guttural slapping almost drum and bass influenced breakdown.

Although not the title track on Mein Eigentliches Element, this song is almost the perfect introduction to Grausame Töchter thanks to the sow build up, building layers and layers of complexity during each irritation of the beats. It also fully displays Peel’s slightly distorted vocals, that yet sound like they are being whispered from a megaphone as a call to arms.

Bis Das Blut Flieest

Nur Mädchen dürfen mich anfassen / Only girls are allowed to touch me.

Ah, a lovely song about slitting the throats of disgusting men.

Starting off with a simple statement (that unfortunately, I can’t catch the German off to translate), this song very quickly switches into a bassy manifesto about aggression towards men.

For me, I find the themes of this song a needed thing in this style of gothic music. Take bands such as Combichrist, with songs that frequently belittle and demean women. The scene needs more songs from the likes of Grausame Töchter (and Unter Null) that turns the tables.

And the scene needs songs that sounds as bouncable and dancable as this. The kind of music you feel guilty about beating your feet or head along to.

Of particular note in terms of musicality is the chorus sections, where Peel’s voice is layered with each other, sentences coming and running into each other without a chance for a breath to be taken, making it sound like she’s having a slight psychotic breakdown. As the choruses speak of slitting throats of men and how wonderful it is when the blood flies, this is fully appropriate.

The ending break down of the song is also magical, with a raising high pitched sound that fades naturally into both the next song on the “Mein Eigentliches Element” album and the next song to be talked about here.

Liebestod

Hey Prinzessin, glaub doch nicht an Liebe! / Hey Princess, do not believe in love.

The lyric above starts off another sinister song. Well, the band is named “Cruel Daughters” after all.

From the opening hum, a slow decent happens into distorted, ripping, beats accompanied by Aranea Peel performing her vocals in a fast paced, almost demonic rapping style.

This is an essential Grausame Töchter song because it shoes perfectly the kind of beautiful, sexy and yet sinister chaos that the band are so adapt in creating.

This is very evident in the chorus, which dissolves into a more normal way of singing, and even better at the end where the vocals are almost reminiscent of church style singing, only becoming sinister because of everything else that has lead up to it.

The song slips elegantly between tempos and singing styles, creating a merry-go effect of loss, confusion, and frantic pleading.

In fact, the whole song invokes feelings of being in some kind of covered up BSDM Church, with a preacher ranting and raving at the podium while pandemonium is happening all around. And there is no greater introduction to how utterly insane Grausame Töchter can be than this song.

Mein Messer

Ich habe mir, ein Messer gekauft / I have bought a knife.

The longest song in the Grausame Töchter catalog, lasting for just shy of 12 minutes, this song shows the perfect skill that Grausame Töchter have of building up songs from simple beginnings to frantic passages and sublime conclusions.

From the start of the song, where the song lyric above is spoken and repeated until it ends with just “Ich habe mir ein messer / I have a knife.” you are instantly taken over with a sense of malice.

And then, in an angry yet wistful whisper, Aranea Peel starts describing the knife, describing what she will do with it, and describing how she will feel while doing it.

With this part, the change in the tune, in the leads in the background, perfectly encapsulates why this is such an amazing Grausame Töchter song to listen to while getting into the band for the first time. Speeding up just ever so slightly from the tempo, but with more instruments coming in, more beats, and a completely different tune to the background of before, the sense of malice and fear builds and builds and builds until…

An amazing feet stomping refrain, backgrounded with a satisfied moan, that keeps you waiting and waiting for the accumulation of disparate beats to come together. And when they do? Paradise.A frantic, pleading, angry, active, messy and yet organised conclusion before a denouement of just pure marching rage.

This is the kind of song that you need to be introduced to at home, at night, with a bassy, loud pair of head phones on.

Warum Nur

Warum nur muust du auf der Knie gehen / Why do you need to bend the knee?

If the last song, Mein Messer, was a slow moving car up to the malice craziness that is Grausame Töchter at full belt, then Warum Nur is a ICE train thrusting face first into the deranged chaotic mess side.

This is the song to listen to if you love having no idea where a song is going to go. A rising pounding sound envelopes and tries to contain the disorder, but doesn’t have much chance when faced with the full might of Peel’s vocals and pounding, heart-bleeding rhythms and guitars.

This is the kind of song you can listen to repeatably and notice something completely different each time, for example that Peel often does a small laugh in the background like a hovering, demonic fairy.

Somehow, this song manages to sound very much a drone song, without a typical Xotox or any other kind of industrial influence happening. Instead, it all takes place through the drum beats and the almost video-game inspired electronic slight refrain.

Ich Darf Das

Nein nein nein, das darfst du nicht / No no no, you aren’t permitted to do that.

Moving on the Alles für Dich album, which has one eye-catching and shocking cover, comes Ich Darf Das.

This is the ultimate in command songs, with the lyrics speaking of complete control of a person.

Musically, the song follows an (unusually for Grausame Töchter) pretty standard structure, with obvious versus, bridges and choruses, which is probably why it is one of the songs on the album to have an associated music video. However, despite this, it’s still not possible to say that this song is anything like songs from other, typical bands.

Just like many of the other songs on this album, and hell all of Grausame Töchter’s songs in general, it is possible to imagine Aranea Peel having a mental breakdown while singing this song.

The chorus is not so much sung, but screamed aggressively straight into your headphones (or speakers). And you can imagine the band of Grausame Töchter right on it, slapping and kicking the speakers just merely for existing.

Tanz für dich

Du denkst ich kenne dich nicht. Ich kenne dich genau / You think I don’t know you. I know you completely

Another one of the songs from the “Alles für Dich” album that was deserving of it’s own video, and again, it might be considered one of the calmer, more restrained Grausame Töchter songs.

That’s not to say, however, that it’s not worth listening to. After all, it’s been put onto this essential Grausame Töchter listening guide for a reason.

As a more traditional song, there is one really great feet storming beat, that will cause yo to want to nod your head along while the whole thing is playing.

And, other than some of the slower and more stripped-down Grausame Töchter songs, this song demonstrates how beautifully malicious and masterful, Aranea Peel’s singing is.

This is also one of the least electronic Grausame Töchter songs (other than maybe “Ficken ist ein schlimmes Wort”). Still, it is there in the background, especially with a body-grinding heavy grungy reverb that occasionally peels away to a higher pitched sound.

Wie eine Spinne

So endet der Verkehr / So ended the sex

Each Grausame Töchter album, so far, has featured a song named “Wie eine [animal]”, and this one translates to “Like a Spider.”

Perhaps the best bit of this song comes in at about two minutes in, a piece of pure body-spinning instrumental.

The song does start off with a vocal section that lists the Latin plural and singular forms of “Spider”, before going into the main song.

Everything about this particular song feels frank. From the vocal accompaniment, to the stripped down, circling, sounds that prevail throughout the whole song.

This song is one amazing one to behold live, with Aranea Peel and two other members of the band (on rotation) performing a synchronized dance that is sure to get the viewers acquainted into the poisonous temptations of Grausame Töchter’s world.

The ending verse of the song, both in this live environment and recorded, feels very much like a call to action, and is done even better than military stylised bands might try to perform.

Glaube Liebe Hoffnung

Ich liebe nichts / I love nothing

The title track, and the first track on the “Glaube Liebe Hoffnung” (Belief, Love, Hope) album, this is another great track to see live, and has become a main stage of their live shows ever since the song was first created.

Starting off with a somewhat new instrument to be added to the Grausame Töchter lineup (It’s usage on other songs were rare before this album), a string introduction starts and pervades throughout this whole song.

This is not to say that the typical distorted Grausame Töchter Bass isn’t within this song, along with the rallying, almost African style drumbeats that hangs over all of their songs.

One thing I do love about this song is how it illuminates the album it’s on. Just like Combichrist’s “We love you” album, the name of the album could actually be seen as positive, but as both title tracks reveal, nope, you are listening to a band that is dripping in irony and beatitude. There is never any softening of Grausame Töchter.

Mensch und Tier

Jedes Tier, liebe ich. Und endlich mehr als dich / I love every animal, more than you.

Within the Glaube Liebe Hoffnung era, there has been an explosion of the band members of Grausame Töchter wearing S&M style leather and PVC animal masks. I think this song, and it’s associated video, is part of the reason.

The techno, whispering into a megaphone, distortion of Aranea Pee, occurs once more within this song, in potentially the best usage of this modification in any Grausame Töchter song.

When this this song is playing, it is really really hard to not, no matter where you are, wiggle your shoulders seductively, no matter your gender or where you are (probably not wise to listen to Grausame Töchter within the office).

The Glaube Liebe Hoffnung era has also been the era of Grausame Töchter expanding itself out with videos alongside their music. This is one of the many songs on the album that has an accompany audio-visual treat although I really would not recommending this one at work:

Ficken ist ein Schlimmes Wort

Billig geht sie vor die Hunde. / (For) Cheap, they go to the hounds

For a band that never seem to use the same mold for any of their songs, Ficken ist ein schlimmes Wort is one that really stands out on the album for being completely different to anything Grausame Töchter has done before, while still having the signature Grausame Töchter style.

What makes this song so different? It is almost completely lead by bass, guitars, and drums, unlike almost of their songs that always have something else going in the background. It is -strange- to hear Grausame Töchter do something that is almost completely like a song you can imagine any rock band being able to do.

But, when you look a bit deeper, you find a song that might be one of the greatest examples of the Grausame Töchter style. There is still that underlying current of menace, and still an amazing breakdown where, yes, things other than the guitars and drums come in. And there is still a violent, angry, seductive, dominatrix style call to arms that occurs throughout the song, as if Grausame Töchter is calling for everyone women to take up arms and murder every man alive.

Wie eine Hyäne

Fleisch für die Hyānen / Meat for the Hyenas

The next of the “Like an [Animal]” songs, this one is, in my opinion, the best such song they have done and is required listening for getting into Grausame Töchter.

Not since Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” has there been a song that capture the feeling of galloping so perfectly.

Just like all of the other “Like an [Animal]” songs, this one displays the most aggressive, biting throats vocals of Aranea Peel on the album. One gets the impression of someone leading out and enjoying a pack of hungry animals to feast on flesh.

Within the background of this song is an almost carnival sounding waltz, just lurking slightly in the background with another layer of menace being added to the song.

Another reason that this song is very much worth listening to as an introduction to Grausame Töchter is for the beautifully sung, harmonic chorus. The words of which are used underneath the title of this song in this article, because you will want to belt it out as well during the song.

Ich bin Gott

Lass mich ganz allein / Leave me completely alone

And the last song on the comprehensive introduction to Grausame Töchter guide is also the last track on Glaube Liebe Hoffnung. “Ich Bin Gott”, or “I am God” (kind of obvious I guess even if you don’t speak any German).

Live, this song converts whatever music venue Grausame Töchter is playing into a church, with the crowd as the congregation. Helps that the chorus does also repeat “Ich bin Gott, Du bist Gott”, encouraging everyone to hear the line and apply it to themselves.

For the ending track of the album, all of the typical and new Grausame Töchter styles come together perfectly, with the frantic pace of the song, with the screaming, whispering, vindictiveness of Aranea Peel coming out in full force.

For the new style, the guitar is back in full force, the drums are ever more present in the foreground, and crescendos build and build up towards the chorus in an enlightening way.

Ich Bin Gott is pretty much the perfect song to leave the Grausame Töchter journey on. All you have to do now is listening to all of the albums in full, and see them live, as many times as possible.

(Header Image By S. Bollmann (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.)

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