th German rock behemoths Rammstein tour the UK in March 2012 LTW celebrates their return…


 

 

 

Like the Grimmest of Grimms fairy tales cranked to a high decibel, Rammstein are operating in a place where few others dare. Banned from Belarus for ”promoting homosexuality and deviant behaviour’ and pounding the world’s stadia with a show that is high on pyrotechnic, volume and hypnotically powerful songs Rammstein have been operating on their own agenda since emerging from East Berlin as the wall came down.

Initially the combination of two punk bands they took their music on a stomping, grinding heavy direction breaking all conventions on the way.

Like a noisy, spunking, panzer tank behemoth waving its metallic cock at the world, Rammstein have been striding the music scene for more than a decade readying their huge motherload before spraying it into the faces of the mass audience that they have claimed without anyone’s permission.

Their revolting sense of humour and grinding industrial slabs of raw power have seen them fill stadiums whilst being roundly ignored by the mainstream media who seem to be content to explain away music on their own indiecentric terms.

Rammstein have clocked up millions of album sales and easily sell out stadiums worldwide with their darkly, humorous, anthemic songs nearly all sung in German.

Toying with the dark and dangerous and playing with imagery the band have been accused of everything including being Nazis to being industrial Goths.

Not that Rammstein care. With a Teutonic smirk they have created a catalogue of releases that are pure art- they may be funny and leering with an evil glint but everything they do is produced perfectly and packaged beautifully.

Pure art.

Their stage shows are stunning- full of black humour and fire- they are like Grimms fairy tales come to life as the band stomp their Teutonic jackboot, homoerotic, pansy division live show of a stomping mash of techno, industrial and metal into thrillingly effective whole.

They have huge mountains of fire and pyrotechnics and employ a ten foot dildo with is shoved up their put upon keyboard player’s skinny butt cheeks before throwing the unfortunate organ operator into a huge vat of boiling liquid- you don’t get that kind of sense of theatrical at a Strokes concert do you!

They can also back this up musically and their songs are massive, sprawling anthems of grunting and grinding nightmare power and rumbling dynamics that leaves most modern rock cowering in the corner with tepid fear.

Growing up in East Germany in the times of Commie misrule gave Rammstein a very different slant on the world and from the snippets of rock information that leaked through the Berlin wall they constructed their own dark and bizarre world. Years later they are still in love with the wilful wind up, the arch prankster statement of intent and deliberate misconduct designed to set the hackles rising.

Their videos are like feature films, brilliantly conceived and beautifully filmed. They are slabs of high art that perfectly compliment their stomping music that also incorporate many subtleties that most of their contemporaries miss.

The long awaited new album, ”œLiebe ist für alle da’ had few surprises- afterall they have already pretty well redesigned the fabric for this kind of music and all that’s left now is to fine tune the machine. There are the staple razor sharp riffing twin guitar attack often playing in unison to create a surging, incessant riffola especially on tracks like B****** with its H Bomb guitar assault  and Waidmann’s Heil  which starts with a weird hunting horn sound before some of the heaviest guitars you are likely to hear which take full advantage of the crisp and no holds barred production.

The amazing drumming of Christoph “Doom” Schneider which its pure power and technique and the techno keyboards of Flake Lorenz which often stray into techno and trance sounds give the band a massive extra dimension. It’s this combination of the tougher end of dance and the bludgeon of guttural stomping metal that they are most effective at. Sometimes they switch from their template sound like on Haifisch which is like Depeche Mode doing knees up and sounds even darker and weirder for it.

Til Lindemann’s Vocals are the key point of the group. He is such a great singer switching from bear like growl to romantic croon and always armed with hilarious devilishly dark lyrics- check out the translations- as Til sings of cannibalism, death and darkness with the knowing wink. He switches to French on the darkly romantic ballad like Fruhling In Paris and switches back to German for the other swooping ballad Rotr Sand where they enter the same sort of stripped down soundscapes as the genius Einsterzende Neubaten. There is even a bit of English on the blatant sex doggerel of the album’s lead off single, Pussy- a song designed to create claims of misogyny and a honey pit of controversy for critics to slide into and this was before the video came out!

A straight porn film with xxx scenes of the various band members in love congress and un-showable anywhere apart form on the internet where it became clever success.

Pussy’s chorus goes ”You’ve got a pussy, I have a dick, So what’s the problem, Let’s do it quick” which has internet mongs moaning anonymously about its lack of poetic power without even getting the sucker punch. Afterall shagging is a feral business and the best sex poetry is stripped away to the simplistic grunt.

That’s Rammstein all over- playing games, messing with minds, creating facades with smoke and mirrors inviting you to think the worst and feel uncomfortable. It’s a clever and dangerous game and can leave them wide open but confrontation is one of the keys to their aesthetic. They look at the darkness that lurks out there and twist into songs like on Weiner Blu where they sing about Joseph Frietzel the Austrian father who locked his daughter in the cellar.

They seem to take every cliché dumped upon Germany, exaggerate it, and throw it back into the faces of the lazy. It’s a cool trick and quite hilarious.

Maybe the album isn’t quite as great as their classic, ”Mutter’ but its pretty damn close and this is a band whose songs have a habit of creeping under your skin and into your life. It’s still one of the best releases of the year- a clever, subversive, dark and strangely amusing record of filthy raw power  that I’ve been enjoying playing fill blast through my atomised headphones also crunch out heavy weights in the gym- and what higher compliment for a rock record can there be than that!

18 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for that Rammstein review John. I have been following them since the first album was released. Their first single Du Reichst so Gut(You smell so good) and it’s original video was criticised as apparently it depicted physically perfect Aryan specimens with a Doberman in alternate shots. Persoanlly I thought it looked like an ad for a gay chatline. Make up your own minds,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiz0VEzYVec

    I have always found them to be an exciting and dynamic band. Lindemann’s lyrics and vocals are fantastic and with music that ranges from raw industrial to epic operatic compositions they are surely the most successful German band ever. I like the fact that other than a couple of appearances on the MTV awards they have pretty much chosen to stay out of the mainstream although with videos like that it is hard for MTV and Viva to ignore them.

  2. Thanks John, they are worth a visit live; especially as Til’s dayjob involves lecturing on pyrotechnics and stagecraft. Visually they are incredible and as you say they have some balls-out riffs. I think it’s incredible that a German language band can be so massive and have such a following in English speaking countries. I do however think that they have run out of ideas and recently have become more ‘Benny Hill’ than Laibach – who they admit to owing royalties to musically at least. The Germanic sense of slapstick humour and sexual neurosis is played out constantly in their shows but the tongue is firmly in the cheek. As Keith states, homo-erotisism, nazi imagary (using Leni Riefenstahl footage for their cover of DM’s ‘Stripped’) and metal-gangster juvinile posturing, although what always comes across is that they don’t take themselves seriously (lederhosen?), nor their fans or the fickle music industry for granted. Still independent after all these years, despite at one stage Madonna voicing interest in a collaboration (!). A duet with Sharlene Spiteri of Texas emerged instead, how perverse. We salute you Rammstein, but obviously not with right arm raised, that would be rather inappropriate. p6

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