May 16, 2019 Rammstein – Rammstein (Album Review)
It has been a decade since we last heard from Industrial Metal titans and purveyors of Neue Deutsche Härte, Rammstein. Now, it’s time to strap yourselves in: on May 17, 2019, the much beloved sextet make their triumphant return with the eponymous Rammstein, thanks to Universal Music.
How does one even begin to summarize a musical career from a band such as Rammstein? Formed in 1994, the band—Vocalist Till Lindemann, Guitarists Richard Z. Kruspe and Paul Landers, Bassist Oliver Riedel, Drummer Christoph Schneider, and Keyboardist Christian “Flake” Lorenz—have impressively maintained the same lineup throughout their 25-year career. They made their debut with Herzeleid in 1995, but it was 1997’s Sehnsucht that broke major ground for the band. Much in thanks to their hit single “Du Hast,” Rammstein were able to successfully cross the Atlantic and gain a rabid North American fanbase.
Over the next 12 years, the talented Germans would deliver four more albums, including 2001’s Mutter, 2005’s Rosenrot, and 2009’s Liebe ist für alle da. With each successive release, Rammstein grew in popularity and word spread of their incendiary, larger-than-life live shows. Stints on the very first Family Values Tour—alongside KoЯn and Limp Bizkit—along with System of a Down and Slipknot’s Pledge of Allegiance Tour, and their own international headliners, seemingly set Rammstein up for greatness.
With a decade having passed since the band’s last release, the time is ripe for new material. The 11-song Rammstein is the group’s first record not produced by Jacob Hellner (Apocalyptica, Covenant). Instead, the eponymous disc was produced by the sextet along with the multi-talented Olsen Involtini, who previously arranged strings on Mutter and 2004’s Reise, Reise. A collection of tracks that hold true to what we will call the signature Rammstein sound, their seventh studio release travels a myriad of lyrical topics while still managing to maintain a cohesive sound profile.
The delicious synths that open “Deutschland” herald the triumphant return of Rammstein. A genius move that revels in wordplay, the song’s very first words are “Du hast,” harkening back to the band’s 1997 hit single and North American break-out. Lyrically, “Deutschland” explores the love and loathe that the band possess for their homeland, which is spelled out fairly bluntly in the song’s harsh chorus: “Deutschland – mein Herz in Flammen / Will dich lieben und verdammen.” (That, non-German speakers, translates to: “Germany – my heart in flames / Want to love and damn you.”) It’s a political gambit without the politics: a promise that they are Germans first and foremost, but a reminder that criticism is the highest form of patriotism.
Second single “Radio” traffics in that scrumptious infectiousness that Rammstein oft do so well. A catchy rocker that will have you dancing, the song actually has a deeper message than simply inspiring you to sashay your hips. A glance at a time in singer Lindemann’s life when listening to the radio was his sole means of escape from East Germany, in a wider sense, the track discusses the power of music to ignite the masses and the power of the masses to force change in their governments. It’s the perfect complement to “Deutschland,” and the pair together form a truly powerful opening to a great album.
“Zeig Dich” opens to an operatic choir and builds to a fast-paced, signature Rammstein sound that lyrically lambastes the Catholic church and its years of hypocrisy in the name of the gentleman Christ. That is, if you’re willing to dig deeper. If not, just dance and that’s perfectly okay.
Similarly, bold, club-worthy beats set up “Ausländer” and then slowly part like the Red Sea to allow the focus to sit on Lindemann’s deep vocals. Then, the chorus builds back into something worthy of an Industrial rave as they sing about being international men of mystery, traveling the world and meeting many different women. Okay, so it’s not as deep as some of the previous tracks, but it’s certainly a catchy good time! One that segues perfectly into the blatant “Sex,” which immediately dips down into a dirty, bass heavy dirge. Clearly, it does not take a genius to figure out the inspiration behind this creeping romp!
The disturbing, quasi-ballad “Puppe” sees delicate guitars accompanying an intimate vocal from Lindemann who narrates a dark tale that supposedly arose from one of the vocalist’s personal poems. Giving one of his most emotional performances to date, Lindemann holds nothing back, delivering a truly raw vocal on the track. This contrasts with “Was Ich Liebe,” a song that opens like a 1980’s teen soundtrack but builds quickly into an ominous stomp that, somewhat ironically, laments the need for love and expresses a dislike for the complicated emotion.
Continuing to keep their listeners guessing, acoustic guitar opens “Diamant,” a confession that, despite her shining beauty, a woman is merely a woman and she can easily suck out your soul. Beware! This makes way for the Sci-Fi worthy synths that race throughout the core of “Weit Weg,” a glance out the window to the far away that goes for a bold wall of seductive sound.
The driving Metal guitar assault of “Tattoo” heralds a headbanger about, yes, art of the flesh. This comes before the band wrap up their return with “Hallomann,” a final exploration of the sexy side of Rammstein. Bass opens the bespelling lilt that slowly meanders outward, closing out a collection that runs the gamut but always feels entirely true to the signature Rammstein sound.
For their seventh album, Rammstein present a collection of tracks that flawlessly blend intelligent commentaries with playful respites from the troubles inherent in modern life. Cohesive in sound, the album is split down the middle between smart observations and fairly simple lyrical romps that pay homage to love, sex, and beyond. There are rockers that will inspire you to bang your head, emotional explorations of the darkest corners of life, and even an ode to a troubled motherland. This is exactly the album that one would expect from Rammstein in 2019, and for that it shines bright like a diamond. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock give Rammstein 4.5 of 5 stars.