It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost an entire decade since Rammstein’s previous album, Liebe ist für alle da. The wait has felt like an eternity, but it’s finally happened, their (untitled) seventh album has arrived, and it truly is something!
First and foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room; the record feels very different to their previous material. It’s not a massively drastic change in direction by any means, their core sound is still very much intact, but it’s by far their least heaviest collection of songs yet. This is not to any detriment, however, as this gives the record plenty of breathing room, allowing the music to go in many directions. It makes the skills of each band member stand out even more prominently than ever before, giving each of them their moment to shine. There are still plenty of heavier moments of course, and when they kick in, the impact feels like it’s with gigatons-worth of force.
Most surprising of all is how diverse the album feels. As is standard with any Rammstein record, there are 11 tracks present, and each one has it’s own unique spin on the band’s iconic formula. This genuinely is the most eclectic they have ever been in terms of style, and it’s impressive how much range is on display here. It may be easy to think that it goes off the rails quite quickly, but it somehow remains a complete, coherent package.
Our journey begins with “Deutschland”, an epic opener that also served as their comeback single. It eases the listener in with a more traditional Rammstein sound, being an opus of Germany’s turbulent history and the band’s relationship with it. Keyboardist Christian ‘Flake’ Lorenz takes the forefront in “Radio”, his catchy keyboard melodies taking centre-stage, alongside a Powerman 5000 style riff. There’s a hint of the Sehnsucht era, but contextualised in an updated format. “Zeig Dich” has a dramatic tone to it, as Industrial Metal elements combine with the sounds of a choir. It’s a high-octane track, and even in the more minimal moments, the pace doesn’t let up. By all rights “Ausländer” simply should not work. It has a trashy Europop feel that wouldn’t at all sound out of place within the Eurovision song contest. Yet it genuinely is brilliant! It’s catchy to the point where it becomes an earworm and dare I say, rather fun. Quite aptly, we have a song called “Sex” on the record, and I’m honestly surprised this hadn’t happened until now. The sleazy riffs and style certainly suit the tone of the song, feeling more hard rock at times rather than Industrial, but pleasingly so. “Puppe” starts off calm, but there’s an eerie tone to it that you may not be able to put your finger on at first. At the 2:02 mark, that all becomes clear, as frontman Till Lindemann goes into full-on psychotic mode, as a brutal wall of sound hits that’s borderline apocalyptic! This is by far the rawest (and most terrifying) I’ve ever heard him, it’s gloriously dark. Combine this with some extremely twisted lyrics, and it’s proof that Rammstein still very much have the shock factor. We then come to the more ballad-heavy section of the album, with “Was Ich Liebe” and “Diamant”. The former is very reminiscent of the Rosenrot era, but has a much fuller, more realised direction, whilst the latter is a surprisingly beautiful acoustic interlude, albeit bittersweet in mood. “Weit Weg” is another surprise track on the record, being very 80’s in style, utilising some retro sounding synths. It’s remarkable how well it compliments their usual sound. Meanwhile, “Tattoo” could have easily been taken straight out of the Mutter era. It’s a huge homage to that time, with it’s booming bass, guitars and chugging riffs. There’s something cinematic about closing track “Hallomann”, as if it were taken from the soundtrack to a film. It has a beauty to it, but as ever, look beneath the layers and you’ll find something a lot more sinister at play.
It’s clear to see that this has been crafted with care, and that the band truly give a damn about the quality of their work
Rammstein could have easily churned out anything, and the masses would’ve still rushed out to purchase it in droves. The fact that they took their time with their seventh outing is a testament to them as artists. It’s clear to see that this has been crafted with care, and that the band truly give a damn about the quality of their work, as well as their integrity. We live in a time where everything is constantly moving forward, where everyone is expected to keep up with the pace. Yet Rammstein have bided their time, working at their own pace, even adopting methods of promotion that others would no longer dare to, and it has paid off in spades! I genuinely feel that this album is not only a triumph, but it’s also one of their finest hours.
I have to be a bit honest here, I’m a massive fan of the band, so perhaps this is coming from a place of bias. However, I am being sincere when I say this record completely took me by surprise. As stated earlier, it’s still definitely Rammstein, but the changes in direction and experimentation on display make it feel fresh. It could be argued that there are influences from their side-projects (Lindemann and Emigrate), and you wouldn’t be wrong. This was actually a fear of mine, but I’m glad they’ve taken the strongest elements of both, and moulded it into something that works in harmony with their ethos, rather than interfering with it. It’s easy to listen to tracks like “Tattoo” and wonder what a more conventional Rammstein album would have sounded like, and in my opinion that would have been disappointing. Sure, it wouldn’t have been bad at all, but after almost a decade with no new output we needed more, and more is exactly what they’ve given us. This album is proof that Rammstein can still make amazing music and, as the cover art suggests, that they haven’t lost their spark. It was a long time coming, but the wait was very much worth it.
Final verdict: Rammstein are back, and better than ever! Their iconic core sound is bolstered with experimentation that subverts expectations in the best ways possible. One of their finest hours, and proof that they’ve not lost their spark.