Rammstein – Self-titled new album
The release of the yet untitled upcoming seventh studio album by the entity that heralded the dawn of what has been classified as “German Neue Deutsche Härte”, i.e. Rammstein, is upon us.
My personal relationship with the individual constituents of a band that has conquered this earthround multiple times over, dates back to the late eighties when excursions to Hungary exposed me to punks from the GDR, who traded tapes of such obscure bands like Sandow and Feeling B and other outfits like Zwitschermaschine and Schleimkeim.
The fact that the roots of Rammstein can be traced back to underground punk bands has always added an additional dimension and credibility, especially once Rammstein became mainstream darlings with their Depeche Mode cover version and eventually conquered the new world with their David Llynch collaboration and their hyperbolic Teutonic antics.
The fact that the phenomenon and institution that Rammstein has established itself as has never not been intriguing, with specifically their live and video incarnations always pushing the envelope of what is commonly considered to be acceptable and of good taste, speaks volumes about their significance.
Needless to say that one was eager to see if the new album's lead single, "Deutschland", was going to add yet another relevant facet to the complex theme of Germanic patriotism and not merely a lacklustre button push to get the feuilleton writers of their homeland riled up – especially given the “controversy” the mere announcement of the title of their first single ignited.
The choice of Specter, who has had a major influence on the evolution of hip hop in Berlin and therewith everything that has now infiltrated mainstream territory, to direct the video for “Deutschland” got my hopes up: I was not disappointed as the eye candy that frames the solemn, patriotic and ambivalent discourse is an exercise par excellence in making viewers visually sensitive to Lindemann’s narrative, which guides us down the rabbit hole of German history and polarises opinions resulting in debates about what constitutes good taste, provocation merely for provocation’s sake and what can be justified under the banner of free speech in the current political climate.
I have yet to experience the album in its full glory, yet what I have heard so far is a surprisingly fresh breeze that does not tinker with the DNA of Rammstein too much – think effective dynamics and pacing, Flake's creative keyboard work, the throning thick and tight wall of sound and guitar licks that Richard Kruspe and Paul Landers have become known for, along with Lindemann’s trademark vocal delivery.
However, the formula works better than ever and even adds previously unheard facets, most prominently the ditty going under the name of “Puppe”, which exhibits Lindemann at his rawest and presents an adequate acoustic musical equivalent to what can be found at the core of his more personal literary emissions.
Summa summarum, an album that I’d recommend to anyone remotely interested in heavy music and specifically to those who enjoyed Rammstein’s previous emissions.