I usually don't have the time to listen to all of the albums sent to us by every Tom, Dick and Harry around, so I generally save reviews outside of my normal purview for bands of some stature or note. So when this band Ramm-something-or-other wanted to send us a copy of their new album, a compilation no less, I was just a little surprised at their gall. Just who did they think they were? It irked me so greatly that I couldn't help but mention it to one of my friends. For some reason or another, she got uncharacteristically excited and urged me to go through with it. And, the more I thought about it, the more I realized, maybe, just maybe, she had a point. Maybe I could do a good thing for a band looking to get off the ground. Long story short, that's how, a month later, I came to hold in my hands the album Made in Germany 1995-2011. (Oh yeah, and whoever heard of a good metal band coming out of Germany?)
What I first noticed is how unbearably catchy all of this music is. I knew industrial music was comparatively easy to listen to next to my normal fare, but I didn't expect ear worms this deeply entrenching. For just one example, I never thought whistling the main melody of an industrial song would actually sound good, let alone really catchy, but that is just the case with the opener "Engel". Plenty of other songs have some very enjoyable riffs too, such as the explosive "Links 2-3-4" and the techno-trance piece "Du Hast". And, without a doubt, the best track on here is "Keine Lust", which starts out with a deceptively jazzy shuffle before turning into one of the most obnoxiously engrossing 6/8 melodies you'll ever hear. It also has a surprisingly powerful breakdown about 2/3 of the way through that, I'll be honest, I was headbanging pretty hard to.
Another thing that's quickly noticeable is how seriously the band don't take themselves. With songs like "Mein Teil" (no, I'm not translating that) and "Pussy" (well, can't do much about that), the band make it clear that they can be just as gross, obscene and perverted as they want without a care in the world. I personally found that kind of straightforwardness to be rather refreshing; the frankness with which they sing (in one of the few English sections) "You have a pussy / I have a dick / So what's the question? / Let's do it quick" is so disarmingly earnest that you can't help but smile and laugh. And you'll noticing you're laughing with them, not at them, because the band themselves seem to be every bit as in on this joke as you are.
Oh yeah, and because almost all of the songs on this album are sung in German, a lot of the dirty and self-deprecating humour will go over your head if you don't take the time to look up some translations. For a band that seems to want nothing more than for people to not take them seriously, there really is a lot of thought put into the double entendre and word play behind their lyrics (which is why I recommend looking at some annotated ones so some of the untranslatable word play doesn't pass you by).
That's not to say every song is a joke (though they damn well could be given this band). Some songs like "Mutter" and "Mein Herz Brent" seem almost shocking in comparison with their emotional honesty (and, unsurprisingly, they tend to be the more melodic selections on the album). It's good to hear that the band haven't limited themselves exclusively to being a single (albeit hilarious) scatological joke, and you can still hear during some of their more straightforwardly silly tracks like "Amerika" that, despite the farcical façade they put on, they still care about the message they're sending. I think under normal circumstances that might take several different layers irony, but with Rammstein, it's so unironic that it's hilarious in its forwardness.
And though it's clear Till Lindemann has an extremely limited vocal range, his incredibly disturbing sprechstimme vocal work actually fits the music very well. That's not to mention that the German language apparently lends itself very well to that kind of half-speaking-half-melodic singing. The only song where it becomes a liability is on "Engel" where you can hear his strain to hit the higher notes, but even then it's fairly brief; for the most part, he just uses it to his advantage.
Because this is a compilation album and I lacked the history with the band to judge whether or not the selection was a fair representation of their career, I consulted my friend again for her suggestions as to what I should do next. Directly off of the top of her head, she noted that the melodic side of Rammstein's work seemed to be vastly underrepresented, and that the compilation seemed more directed at the heavier/dancier elements of their career. She also noted there were a few tracks whose absence amounted to an egregious oversight ("Seemann" in particular). I guess she must've heard of these guys somewhere before?
So yeah, all in all, these guys really aren't half bad. They're nothing but awesome, straight-up industrial metal without any pretentiousness to hold it back. Who knows; maybe they'll make it big someday.
8.5 / 10
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