December 22, 2015 Lindemann – Skills in Pills (Album Review)
With a big roaring, the solo album Skills in Pills of Rammstein frontman Till Lindemann, in collaboration with the Swedish star-producer and Pain/Hypocrisy mastermind Peter Tägtgren, was announced to be released June 23, 2015 via Warner Records. The opportunity for Lindemann to explore a solo career comes while Rammstein’s Richard Kruspe works on solo project Emigrate and keyboardist Flake his newest book Der Tastenficker (The Key-Fucker). A new challenge for Lindemann, Skills in Pills sees himself and Tägtgren combine their creative minds for an extraordinary forty plus minutes of new music.
To keep a long story short, Skills in Pills is exactly what the enclosed label promises and could carry also the name Rammpain or Painstein. The biggest difference with this solo material is Lindemann has composed all lyrics in English. A circumstance that might cringe some fans who remember Rammstein’s cover versions like Depeche Mode’s “Stripped“ for example. Although, the English pronunciation actually makes this album a success. It must be added the new project began through the telephone and email over the distance to Tägtgren’s famous Abyss Studio. Started back in Rammstein times while producing the multi-selling 2001 album Mutter, Lindemann and Tägtgren have developed a growing friendship over the years. A friendship that came with such events like puking into a restaurant’s ice-machine after a Chinese dinner and having some Jägermeisters while they were messing around with sounds and ideas before finally creating a real band called Lindemann.
Also, if Tägtgren and Lindemann relegate on the irony about the lyrical topics of the songs, one has to ask themselves where Mr. Lindemann’ s ideas and inspirations grew from. Keeping the split from his German actress girlfriend Sophia Thomalla in perspective, it reveals a different light concerning the preponderant often. This is not to say it is almost solely marginal sexual dyed lyrics, but keeping an ear on the music and leaving this topic for the German boulevard-press. Honestly, it really does not matter to think about rods and spears stinking like fish, golden showers, or alike stories discussing tracks from Skills in Pills.
Musically, the album offers no big surprises, as mentioned above upon first listen. The two main protagonists are skillful at mixing, the trademarks of their well-known main bands Rammstein and Pain. The opening title-track convinces with pumping “Pain“ as guitars and likewise key layers that will remind of the first single and video for Pain back in 1999, “End of the Line.“ Lindemann’s distinctive vocals will entice the listener to press the repeat button on the player immediately.
In “Ladyboy,“ Lindemann seems to be reflecting on his last Thailand vacation. On this track, Rammstein’s sound prevails musically and the mixed ingredients appear very simple. The following song, “Fat,“ comes on with a Pain-like typical church organ theme. Featuring pumping low-tuned guitars, like a steamroller, it carries through the chorus. Lindemann’s well-tried-manner vocals fit perfectly when singing the only German album-vocable “Wunderrrrrbarrrr“ (wonderful). These are the moments when listeners will recognizes that the dreaded English vocals are not bad at all.
The following songs may remind some of Rammstein’s Reise Reise (2004) and Mutter era with typical trademarks such as on high singing angel choirs in “Fish On” or in the first ballad “Home Sweet Home.” The strong mid-tempo rocker “Yukon” convinces likewise. In addition, the album closing “That’s My Heart” clearly shows the German singers skills and reminds, also reminding a bit of Reise Reise‘s ballad “Ohne Dich.” It is no wonder these moments of Skills in Pills stand out boldly.
On the other hand, “Praise Abort” sees Lindemann entertain in best “Denglish” (German English). No native speaker would use words like him, and in this song, the drastic, ironic topic is rather humorous and will make the listener smile. These parts hold the other amusing moments of Skills in Pills, which should be taken as ironic, like mentioned above in the beginning. Above all, the track “Cowboy” has to be noted specially as a great, but extraordinary earworm by its unexpected melodies.
Against expectations, Skills in Pills is a serious alternative for the highly anticipated new Rammstein album. With pure honesty and the most passion Till Lindemann and Peter Tägtgren have to offer, they dish out an album that not many thought was possible. Even if the protagonists present no big surprises, they have created a Rammstein/Pain hybrid. The dinner is served. CrypticRock gives Skills in Pills 4.5 out of 5 fishy rods.