Saturday, April 10, 2021

CD Odyssey Disc 1464: Rammstein

I’m a little foggy this morning after one too many Kraken and cokes last night. Clearly the answer is to start my day blasting some industrial metal.

Disc 1464 is…. Self-Titled

Artist: Rammstein

Year of Release: 2019

What’s up with the Cover?  Rammstein live shows have a penchant for a lot of intense pyro, making this album cover a perfect…match.

Get it? Get it? I kill myself…

How I Came To Know It: Like most people, I know Rammstein originally through their appearance on the “Matrix” soundtrack with “Du Hast”. Since then they’ve drifted in and out of my life, but the flame has been kept alive by my buddy Nick, who is a big fan.

When this album was released, I gave it a try and decided it was finally time to take the plunge into their discography.

How It Stacks Up: Not much of a plunge so far. Rammstein has seven studio albums but this is the only one I own. I keep meaning to check out the rest of their discography, but haven’t done much so far beyond pawing through their albums at the record store wondering which one I should get next, then leaving empty-handed. All of which is a meandering way to note…it can’t stack up. On to the review…

Ratings: 4 stars

Remember that cool early nineties industrial metal sound? Ever wish people were still making music like that? Well, get your head out of your…radio, and stop letting your streaming service decide what you want to hear based on whatever the hell you decided to put on that first playlist you made five years ago. Rammstein has been out there this whole time waiting for you to return to the fold.

Rammstein’s career has spanned twenty-five years, all of them with the same lineup. Their latest effort (their seventh, and therefore inappropriately self-titled) maintains the high standards that have given them such incredible staying power.

The churning riffs are tailor-made for claiming a place on a crowded dance floor and tossing your hair around wildly until you throw your neck out. You may also wish to shove someone, but only if it is consensual (which, in a Rammstein mosh-pit, is often the case).

The album starts strong with “Deutschland,” a masterpiece in the genre featuring the mix of electronica and guitar that makes this kind of music work. It also shows off lead singer Till Lindemann’s vocals, which are deep and resonant. Lindemann sounds like the prophet of some dark cult, preaching from a pulpit of rock and roll. This, plus the church-like chants here and throughout the record (particularly awesome on “Zeig Dich”) give the record a Gothic quality that reminded me favourably of Ghost.

As for what Lindemann is preaching, I have no idea – Rammstein sings all their songs in their native German. I’ve become spoiled with my European power metal. Finnish band Nightwish sings in English, and Swedish band Sabaton does the same. Rammstein has the audacity to sing in their own language! I don’t fault them for this, but the result is I have no idea what the hell they are talking about. My best guesses are that "Radio" is about the radio and "Tattoo" may involve...a tattoo? I could have looked it up, but in the end I prefer not knowing and imagining something dark and apocalyptic for the others.

The album starts out with a barrage of fast-paced power, Lindemann soaring over it all while talking about Something Important. On Side Two (for those listening on vinyl) they strip things down a bit, with a lot more stripped down “ballads,” comparatively speaking. Sometimes these songs “anger up” partway through (“Puppe”, “Was Ich Liebe”) and sometimes they just stay slow and menacing throughout, like a heavy metal Nick Cave (“Diamant”). Either way, they draw you in with their inherent grandiosity.

One minor pet peeve on this record is the shape of the CD case, which is overly tall and awkward. Rammstein is not alone in doing this (I’m looking at you Jason Isbell) but I find it annoying when I’m looking at my CD collection. It just feels…untidy.

I intended to give this record 3 stars, but on successive listens I fell more and more under Rammstein’s spell. It has inspired me to once again attempt a dive into their back catalogue. I’ll let you know how that goes, of course, since that’s what I do here.

Best tracks: Deutschland, Zeig Dich, Auslander, Was Ich Liebe,Tattoo

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