Six Essential Nachtmahr Songs – An Introduction

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Nachtmahr, best described musically as maybe “Industrial Techno” court controversy. That seems to be their thing, and it’s easy to see why. It’s easy to be put off by them. They have (sometimes) Germanic (well, actually Austrian) lyrics. They have a militant uniform style. And they have a “Kunst is Krieg / Art is War” attitude to life.

But, you should get past this. Not just for the music, but to understand why they do this kind of music. Thomas Rainer (also a member of “L’Âme Immortelle”) sees this expression as identification of fans. As well as an expression of desires that people have. Which brings us to…

6 essential Nachtmahr Songs

Mädchen in Uniform

“Ich wollte nur meine Uniform anprobieren” / “I only want to try on my uniform”

Starting with the a-typical Nachtmahr “BoomBoomBoom” beat. This song seems like a look into the Psyche of Thomas Rainer and his attraction to a particular type of woman. Of course, specifically, those in Uniform.

The song does contain some of the typical Nachtmahr style beats, especially at the start. But, for the more electronic side of Nachtmahr this isn’t really a great song to listen to. If you want something that shows the “techno” side of their music, we move to the “Fiendbild” album.

Chaos

“Nur die Leiter ist echt, der Aufstieg ist alles!” / “Only the ladder is real, the climb is all there is.”

On almost every Nachtmahr album is an instrumental track that feels like, well, music to invade Poland to. Chaos, from Nachtmahr’s newest, is no exception. This is one song you want to put on a pair of good headphones for and turn up as loud as possible. Using a sample that is both whispered and threatening at the same time, the song slowly builds to not one but two climaxes which will make you stop whatever you were doing and start moving along to the beat with.

The source of the quote is also something awesome. You might recognise a little bit of the English translation from an obscure TV show. Game of Thrones. Yeah, the song uses the “Chaos is a Ladder” speech as said to Littlefinger to Varys. Only of course, using the sample from the German version of Game of Thrones.

For more of the vocal style of Thomas Reiner, and for a song with a touch of English, stay on the Feindbild album for…

I Hate Berlin

I hate Berlin, little city on heroin

This song features Fräulein Plastique, formerly of Welle: Erdball and currently of The Girl and the Robot. This song is actually a cover version of a Second Decay song, and honestly, is worse than the original song. However, if you haven’t heard the original you do need to take a listen to this. Just to hear how Thomas Reiner produces the wonderful, piercing vocals of Fräulein Plastique. And if you don’t understand German, at least there is a nice little chorus tune with the above song lyric in it.

Can you feel the beat?

We came, and conquered what you saw safe

The music video to this song is a bit controversial. In 2012, at the Kinetik festival, the band “Ad·ver·sary” used this specific video as an example of “misogyny inherent in the scene.” To his credit, Thomas Rainer responded eloquently to this controversy on the website I Die You Die.

Getting past and to the music, if you got this far, you will notice that when the drums come in that they are now what you recognise as “The Nachtmahr Beat.” But in the Chorus, they do subside a bit into something that rises and falls. The high-pitched techno refrain in the song may only last for a few seconds. But it does also show how Nachtmahr can also be an incredibly danceable band.

Ich Bin

“Ich werd gehasst, verdammt, vergöttert” / “I will be hatred, condemned, idolised”

Moving back into the Austrian language side of Nachtmahr, Ich Bin is, in my opinion, the most danceable Nachtmahr song.

It takes almost no time for Thomas Reiner to build into his vocals, and to build up to the chorus. And when it kicks in, it lays a beat that requires a shoulder shuffle.

Although normally a wasted part of the song, the instrumental break down between harsh choruses adds to this track. “Ich Bin” seems to have the theme of something taking over you, the “I” or “Id” of Freudian Psychology. An apt analogy for a song that infects you with it’s beat.

Feuer Frei!

“Manchmal müssen Kriege geführt werden, um Frieden zu gewinnen.” / “Sometimes wars must be waged, to win Freedom.”

This, to me, is the centre piece of every Nachtmahr live show.

A large part of the Nachtmahr live show, as part of their Uniform fetish, is having women up on the stage dressed in the white and black Nachtmahr attire. Currently, there are two main Nachtmahr women; Nika von Bruggen and Amarantha LaBlanche.

In Feuer Frei, a good song it it’s own right, the normally stoic women finally interact with the audience. That is, most of the time they are on stage staring directly at the audience. Never making eye contact. Never Finiching. With only the occasional interaction with each other (including a great sequence that typically happens during “Can you feel the beat”).

But, during this song, come out the big guns. Literally. The audience gets pelted with water. All while the Nachtmahr Women look on with their standard stoic expression. With a slight twist of sadism added. Perfect concert experience.

And seeing them live is really the best way to experience Nachtmahr. The energy of their songs. The way they have formed a community. The aesthetic. The Feel. The excitement of Nachtmahr only really comes through when you do see them up on the stage. If you ever get a chance? Go. Just go. Even if you are more into Darkwave, even if you are poor and spending your last few bits of money, just go. You will not regret it.

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

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