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Rammstein - Rammstein (Album Review)

Thursday, 30 May 2019 Written by Alec Chillingworth

‘Rammstein by numbers’. The words of a chancer. It’s a phrase that, despite the German metallers’ signature sound, has no basis in reality. It has not a leg, nor a flame-throwing gimp mask, to stand on.

The only way to rationalise these words, to grasp why someone would say something so fundamentally wrong, is to cast your mind back to Rammstein’s humble beginnings in the mid-’90s: an era of prosperity ushered in by David Hasselhoff.

The Berlin Wall had fallen and the band were pulling from influences German and otherwise. Their countrymen in Oomph! and Kraftwerk inspired industrial gruffness and melancholy electronica respectively, while from White Zombie and Marilyn Manson Rammstein borrowed a gothic, melodramatic ideal. They arrived almost fully formed, and in 2001, their third album, ‘Mutter’, perfected that taut, militaristic sound.

But since then, they’ve loosened up, travelling to more organic rock territories. Their lyrics have covered paedophilia, incest, bondage, sex tourism, death, repressed homosexuality, cannibalism and more. Their ludicrous, Wagnerian fire hazard of a stage show has headlined festivals worldwide. They’ve been censored in their home country. They released a box-set featuring moulds of their own willies. Basically, they’ve kept themselves busy.

As such, it doesn’t seem like it’s been a decade since their last album, ‘Liebe ist für alle da’, was released. But 10 years is a long time, and they’ve got a lot to prove. As far as raising the bar goes, Rammstein’s seventh album does a sterling job and the first single and opener Deutschland ticks all those boxes to ease us in if you ascribe to that ‘Rammstein by numbers’ nonsense.

Christian ‘Flake’ Lorenz’s club-ready keys open everything up, settling into a more sinister regime during the verses; dual guitars spurt a properly danceable riff; Christoph ‘Doom’ Schneider’s back to his wound-up, ‘do the job and do it well’ approach he nailed on ‘Mutter’, swinging when he needs to and laying a massive, impenetrable floor down for Till Lindemann. Yet it’s…different. Lindemann’s inimitable baritone dissects his relationship with Germany, longing to love it but unable to, the line ‘Deutschland, Deutschland über allen’ shrewdly mocking nationalists.

The curveballs keep coming. Second track Radio is more Kraftwerk than the band have ever been, from the ‘Man Machine’-worshipping synth to Lindemann’s sickly, childlike chorus. Ausländer is Rammstein-goes-Ibiza, blending their blunt heaviness with snappy snare and pinched, pill-popping keys. Zeig Dich pits bastardised Latin choirs against a blunt, feral riff At The Drive-In wouldn’t ignore.

And Puppe, the album’s centrepiece, has Till scream on a primal, unhinged level he’s never reached before, backed solely by crashing drums before the other instruments swoop in, if only for respite. It’s painfully raw. It’s the album’s tipping point: we’ve got wall-to-wall bangers from tracks one to five, then Puppe drags us into nightmareland. From there, it’s a slow rebuild from total exhaustion, with three ballads taking us into the pounding, industrial muscle of Tattoo before the album closes on a haunting, vile note with Hallomann (honestly, don’t read the translated lyrics).

Rammstein have never sequenced an album like this. Nor have they had a production and mix like this—crisp guitars, drums sitting in the middle, Flake and Lindemann leading the charge. It’s their album, and the remaining four members are happy to comply. It’s worth the wait. Maybe not enough to top ‘Mutter’, but a near-comprehensive summation of their sound, with extra bells, whistles and bodily fluids. It’s Rammstein past, present and future. But ‘Rammstein by numbers’? Nah.

Rammstein Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat July 06 2019 - MILTON KEYNES Stadium MK

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