It’s not every band that can open an album with a song called “Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster” without making fools of themselves, but halfway through the upbeat, two-and-a-half-minute lead cut on the self-titled, self-produced and self-released debut from young Berlin outfit Operators, I’m mostly convinced they’ve done it. Their relative youth is a major factor working in their favor. A rare six-piece (ah, to have friends), Operators energetically and insistently push their way through most of Operators’ nine tracks, eliciting images of rock and roll shenanigans no less mischievous than their naked-lady-and-eggs cover art might bring to mind. Two guitarists in Dirk Beck (who also mixed) and Orge, an umlauted rhythm section in bassist Dän and drummer Säsh, a standalone vocalist in Eggat, Operators is rounded out by the prominently displayed organ of Konni, whose melodic contribution to a track like “Creamlead” or “Pig & Pepper” is more than just flourish to highlight and/or punctuate the guitar. Sometimes Konni follows Orge and Dirk, and sometimes they follow him, but most of the time, they work separately to each bring their own feel to the songs. The material perhaps leans too hard on Konni at times – see the aforementioned “Pig & Pepper” – but those keys and the strength of Konni’s performance are a major distinguishing factor when it comes to separating Operators from their many peers in Europe’s booming heavy rock climate. They bolster and add complexity to the more rocking earlier songs and make sure nothing sounds empty on the album’s moodier closing movement.
There’s a telling moment on centerpiece “Danish” at 2:03 when Eggat belts out a scream that’s right out of post-hardcore. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a few years back found at least some of the members of Operators working more with those influences, but if they’re relatively inexperienced with heavy or riff rock, their take on it is going to inherently sound fresh, even if it is familiar. That they’d start with “Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster” is particularly interesting, because that basically lays out the rest of the course for their album. It is a rollercoaster, complete with ups and downs, climbs and descents that ultimately combine for a well put together if recognizable sound. “January Blues” keeps the momentum going with punkish floor tom hits in the intro from Säsh and more uptempo classic rock. Their palate is ultimately pretty straightforward, whatever Konni adds to the formula with the organ still comes in service to the song, but one thing Operators do very well is keep the pace varied so as to not have the material come off as redundant. At its end, “January Blues” slows down some and that works to set up the start of “Creamlead,” which earns its title through both the guitar and the organ work. Hard not to get shades of Greenleaf by the end of the song, but I wouldn’t speculate as to whether or not that’s a direct influence or just a commonality of method. In any case, “Creamlead”’s agenda is largely the same as the ensuing “Pig & Pepper,” but Konni takes a longer solo in the latter and the guitars seem more secondary than elsewhere.