A frustrating last album from an above par band
treestamp | 01/12/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Die Kreuzen actually did start out as a hardcore band, which is why they often get lumped in with 80's punk/hardcore, and they never completely shed those beginnings. They always showed a fair degree of heavy metal influence, something that emerged more through the progression of four studio albums and various EPs and comps. This punk-metal combination manifested in a fairly unique way with Die Kreuzen, which, in my opinion, never was really copied and carried on by any followers, despite insistence from some that they were a proto-grunge band (grunge was already emerging concurrently to Die Kreuzen's run, and whether they directly impacted grunge or simply developed along side it with common influences is very debatable).One of things that set Die Kreuzen apart, aside from their uncommon degree of musical competency and the unique and affecting vocals of Dan Kubinski, was their method of songwriting -- much more communal and give-and-take than the typical style-conscious rock band, and much more cerebral, deliberate and dialectical than your ordinary "jam" band. Whether the average rock music listener can discern the difference...well, let's say Die Kreuzen failed to gain more than a small group of admirers during their day while much less demanding and adventrous bands basked in the adoration of fans and critics alike. But the end result is songs that are firmly in a rock tradition, without needing to be of a particular style or form to justify their existence. In other words, they were in a class by themselves.By the time they recorded this last album, Die Kreuzen were one of the few bands of the early 80's hardcore scene that had evolved into a band capable of diverse songwriting without needing to pander to the critics or fall back on gross power pop formulas and melodies. Certainly at first listen, Cement may sound like merely a hard rock album, but it has all the layers you would expect of a band that had gone through a fairly thorough metamorphosis. But it may be that the finished product you'll find on this album ultimately lacks what is necessary to draw the novice Die Kreuzen listener into its subtle complexity and sophistication.The reason is the production. Butch Vig is credited, but more must be to blame, specifically the band themselves. While the songs here are ranging solid to unforgettably good, the band sounds tired, restless and disinterested. It screams "We're ready to be done with this!" And it's not exactly the most welcoming or inviting aura, which is a real shame. This could have been a much better and rewarding album.I have to give this album 4 stars, because as a long-time Die Kreuzen fan, I think it has that level of merit. But I also find it very frustrating to listen to: I regretted them calling it quits, but since Die Kreuzen were a band that offered something the rest of the 80's underground scene couldn't or wouldn't, I regret it more that their last album had to fall short of the goal in the last few minutes of the game."
Constant feature of the midwest punk scene in the 80's
Carolyn Reyes | Chicago, Illinois USA | 10/05/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A great Wisconsin rock band that were ever-present supporting players in the 80's midwest punk scene. Another great ROCK band that gets lumped in with punk music because they're just too good for the radio; they're really more rock than punk. Their sound varied alot, each album being different - this one's got a monster rock metalish feel to the vocals, but with unpretentious guitar work that kinda in the vein of a Chicago or Boston sound (the music styles, not the bands, OK? try to keep up), and a nice hard-rock beat. I suppose that makes them prog-rock, but don't let that term turn you off, it's darker and a little harder than most prog-rock, so you won't get bored, it's not artsy-fartsy either."