In the 10 years it’s been since Rammstein last released an album, the world has changed beyond all recognition. In actual fact, it’s more ‘Rammstein’ than the band could ever have imagined it would be. Donald Trump is a living, breathing Rammstein song – only completely devoid of the humour that the band bring to their work.
In the time since their last (superb) album Liebe ist für alle da, the Germans have taken on a rarefied, cult status that has only served to make them more of an exciting proposition than ever before. Their live shows are legend, their aggressive pop the thing of myth. The band have always remained somewhat divorced from the things said about them, and probably couldn’t care less. They made it normal for newer metal bands to follow their aggressive merchandising strategy (Ghost selling dildos, anyone?), and they have, essentially, become everything that great metal bands should be. They’re confrontational, scary, shocking and often brilliant.
Comeback single Deutschland launched this epic new album in signature Rammstein style. It dealt with all of the grisly bits of German history with the usual black humour and arched eyebrow. The music, raucous and rigid as ever, was a glorious, welcome thing. The rest of the record, as it turns out, carries on in that vein. It’s exactly what you wanted and a little bit more.
Take Zieg Dich, for example. It incorporates wackier elements than you might have expected in your wildest dreams. There’s a distinctly Latin flavour, some choral flourishes and a fiery punk rhythm. Radio, which is the finest Rammstein have sounded in some time, deftly combines Kraftwerk-ian keyboards with muscular Rob Zombie riffing.
Auslander plays out like the perfect Eurovision song, which is ironic considering the amount of influence Rammstein seem to have on that particular competition nowadays. Sex (that’s the name of the track), has a distinct, bluesy riff – that kind you might have expected from Marilyn Manson – and it’s all the better for it. Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, Rob Zombie, Manson and Rammstein were all players in the game the last time rock music seemed dangerous – and it’s a welcome thought to think that most of these are still going strong, or have at least found some measure of consistently after all these years.
Puppe borrows liberally from doom metal, with monstrous riffs and creeping, ominous atmospheric touches. Hallomann, the final track, is even creepier – an insistent bass weaves around Till Lindemann’s eerie theatrics, while single piano notes appear, seemingly of their own volition. Here, and throughout the album, Christoph “Doom” Schneider’s drums alternate between battery and groove. The chrome-plated guitars of Richard Z Kruspe and Paul Landers are as powerful and tightly-wound as ever.
Of the remaining tracks on the album, Tattoo is undoubtedly the strongest. It has an instant classic riff, and the rhythm section is thunderous. It’s the kind of track you wish Rammstein would fill an album with, just to see what the effect would be on the heavy metal community, who have always been wary of fully embracing Rammstein in the same way that they have embraced Metallica and Iron Maiden (who are, let’s face it, every bit as silly as Rammstein.)
It’s odd to think that the last great Rammstein album is 15 years old this year – the airtight, vacuum-sealed Reise, Reise – but in reality, they have never made an album that you could ever think of as being less than good. This new, untitled beast is another step to Rammstein finally being acknowledged as being the best heavy metal band in the world, and one of the best hard rock acts of all time. Hopefully the next one doesn’t take as long to arrive.