ALBUM REVIEW: Rammstein – Zeit
Something is wrong here.
A Rammstein record just three years after the last and preceded by no rumbling tales of friction between bandmates or nebulous warnings of permanent disbandment? The last time the Neue Deutsche Härte/industrial act had such a rapid turnaround was when Reise Reise was followed by a fun leftover album Rosenrot a year later, could this quick exit (by their standards anyway) mean that Rammstein is actually happy or could it hint at something more ominous?
With the leader Until Lindemann and guitarist Richard Kruspe keeping their own creative juices flowing with outside musical interests, the Rammstein ship certainly seems like a much more stable place these days, but you have to wonder if the future has been weighing on their minds lately. Especially since the title of the last album Weather (Universal Music Group) translates to “Time” and the title track, a brilliantly paced rumination on life and death, contains lines such as: “After us, there will be before” and “When our time has come, then it’s time to go”. Is this the end of the line for the Rammers? Maybe, maybe not. Only time will tell. But for now, sit down, open up Google Translate, and sing along with heroically misplaced confidence.
Lifting off with ’80s-style synths backed by a simple yet powerful riff, the opener “Armee Der Tristen” features a suitably melancholic chorus (the title translates to “Army of the Dreary”), with Till speaking each verse with authority. reliable and heavy. “Schwarz” is slow and measured with ethereal vocals, orchestral accompaniment and mournful piano keys, all building to a dramatic climax. ‘Giftig’ (Toxic) is a more dynamic, brighter and faster but no less commanding affair, with Till producing another memorable performance while Christian “Flake” Lorenz steals the show with another sleek keyboard hook and briefly leaning into The Prodigy territory.
The theme of time returns on the playful second single “Zick Zack”, the accompanying video showing an aging rock band turning to prosthetics and obscene levels of makeup and plastic surgery in order to stay relevant to their audience just as aged, the song containing the wonderful lyric, “Belly fat in the organic trash / Now the penis sees the sun again”. Yes, it’s Rammstein.
One of the record’s undisputed highlights, ‘OK’ keeps the momentum going, a fast-paced cut that opens with a chorus of nuns, continues with another ridiculously catchy keyboard hook, and ends with a squealing riff. reminding black sabbath‘Children of the Grave’. Translated as ‘my tears’, ‘Meine Tränen’ is a slow, measured cut that briefly halts the record’s forward thrust, something ‘Angst’ immediately rectifies, a fiercely rugged stomp with echoes of ‘Keine Lust’ .
No Rammstein album would be complete without at least one sex song rearing its big purple head and this time the job goes to “Dicke Titten” (Big Boobs) which bizarrely combines traditional German oompah with a snarling, thuggish riff but somehow manages to sound like the most natural thing in the world. Another song of stark contrasts, “Lügen” vacillates between delicate understatement and crisp rhythms, Lindemann tunes itself strongly here but makes valid and expressive use of the much frowned upon studio tool. Closer ‘Farewell’ once again reinforces the seemingly ever-present theme of impending closure, the record ending as Till sings ‘Farewell, goodbye, auf Wiedersehen’ with ominous finality.
While it carries a fairly serious tone for much of its running time, there’s still plenty of room for adrenaline rushes and Till’s wickedly flirtatious vocal delivery. Emboldened like never before by the bass player’s powerful rhythm section Olivier Riedel and drummer Christopher Schneiderthe Kruspe guitar duo and Paul Lander keep things familiarly minimalist although a welcome looseness can be noticeable in their playing.
From more serious and introspective themes to songs about plastic surgery and boobs, Rammstein’s eighth studio album never strays too far from their tried and tested formula but is still more than capable of throwing the occasional curve ball. Cohesive, memorable and impressively coherent, Weatherthe highest points do not quite reach the almost completely inaccessible snow-capped peaks of Herzeleid, whisper or Reise Reisebut the quality is consistent throughout and it’s such a caliber mountain that many others never even make it to base camp.
Launch the fireworks, ready the flamethrowers and load the giant penis cannons. Rammstein is back.
Buy the album here: https://amzn.to/3vlbrbj
9 / 10
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