April 15, 2005 | 1 Comment

When it comes to Rammstein there is much misunderstanding in the UK. A few years ago Q wrote some tosh about the band’s Nazi links which thankfully, Rammstein had the good grace to ignore, while more recently Ali G. dissed the band live on air when introducing them in his capacity of MTV awards compere – shame on you Sasha. The root cause of this disdain is really all to do with their uncompromising image. Rammstein fulfil all the popular UK cliches of the ‘Bosese Deutsche’ gleaned from a zillion cheesy war movies : singing almost 100% in German, singer Till Lindemann alternately whispers and rasps his way through their (sometimes) dark lyrics in a mock-portentous guttural croak. Meanwhile the CDs feature scary photos of the band embalmed in test tubes and, it must be said, the whole lot of ’em are fond of spouting fire from their gobs at the drop of a hat. Lets’ just say you wouldn’t have ’em as your wedding band.

If you look past the packaging though, you’ll be richly rewarded. The last time I looked up one of their albums on an online CD database the thing came back with a category of ‘Industrial Metal’ which, as far as this type of tedious cataloging goes, is reasonably accurate. However, a newcomer to Rammstein could be forgiven for thinking they were getting just another truckload of Metallica B-sides circa 1988. ‘Industrial Metal’ fails to give credit to a band who, like Metallica, have evolved their sound into a richly-layered texture while still retaining the hard core essentials of dry-as-a-bone riffing, total lack of over-sentimentality and, just occasionally shining through, an almost sweet and vulnerable edge. Most recent album ‘Reise, Reise’ is a good example with the band’s musicianship to the fore and also, crucially, they never run away from a good tune – checkout the catchy satire of ‘Amerika’ (or one of its excellent dance remixes), and if you want a masterclass in how to cover a track and make it truly your own, seek out the blinding Rammstein cover of Das Modell.

ramm_herz.jpg3 starsHerzeLeid

(Heartache, 100% native)

6 blokes making a helluva great racket. Standout tracks : ‘Asche zu Asche’

ram_sehnsu.jpg4 starsSehnsucht(Yearning, 100% native)

Brilliant second album. A raw-edged aural assault. Standout tracks : ‘Du Hast’ (You Have), ‘Engel’ (Angel)

When I played ‘Engel’ to my pal Steve his reaction was pretty representative of most folks when they hear Rammstein for the first time : puzzlement when you hear the sparse whistling during the intro – what the ??! Is this some sort of Scorpions tribute!? Then comes temporary relief when the funky synth beats pop up, followed by eyes-wide-open, head bopping, foot tapping pleasure once the full force of the guitars let rip. The whole effect is enhanced by the frequent interludes from a female choral ensemble – a brilliant counterpoint to Lindemann’s harsh tenor (a trick repeated equally well on ‘Du Hast’).

ramm_mutter.jpg4 starsMutter

(Mother, 100% native)

A bit more polished than Sehnsucht. Standout tracks : ‘Ich Will’ (I Want), ‘Spieluhr’ (Toy Clock).

ramm_reise.jpg4 starsReise, Reise

(Journey, Journey, 90% native)

Outstanding. Lush and orchestral. Worth buying for the ballad ‘Ohne Dich’ (Without You) alone.

Ultimately it’s down to the UK public whether they ever want to take this unique band to heart. Personally, if the record-buying masses of this small island ever manage to get over the overly-Teutonic nature of their work then I reckon Rammstein could run amok and I don’t just mean in terms of artistic recognition – a couple of top twenties could easily come their way (how ’bout an English version of ‘Ohne Dich’, easily their most commercial track to date?). Can you imagine them on T4 on a Saturday along with a bunch of so-called nu-metal punks like Good Charlotte? No contest. Full credit to Till and the lads however, for not folding – after all why should they ingratiate themselves with the fickle Brits? It would only lead to tears, probably on our part.


1 Comment so far

  1. Paul Jones on August 26, 2008 10:43 pm

    Spot on! Rammstein rocks and anyone who was a teenager in the ’80s and listened to metal and hard rock back then would truly appreciate how the music has evolved and how bands like this keep that sound alive.

    It’s very inpiring as well to hear bands like this that stick their middle finger up (two fingers up for you chaps in Ol’ Blighty) to just about anyone with an opinion and just keep on rockin’ the way they want to.

    Good article Paul.

    Paul Jones

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