Label: Universal Music Group
Release date: 17.05.2019
Seriously, what am I going to say about Rammstein that hasn’t already been said elsewhere? Their status is legendary, their impact long-lasting and you’d be hard pressed to not have people start chanting “Du Hast” whenever the song comes on. Now they’re back, on the winds of rumors circling that this may indeed be the last album of a band who conquered the world without most people understanding what the lyrics were saying.
Just a caveat before this review begins: what I think of this album is restricted to the album alone. It may be the latest in a very strong discography, but that does not mean that it doesn’t have to stand on its own merits.
To try and define the music on Rammstein is easy and at the same time difficult. It’s eleven cuts of Rammstein. That’s literally what’s on offer here. The only difference is that it’s all been simplified. The riffs are a bit more basic, the drumming is decidedly as simple as it can get on a Rammstein album, and while this is going on, the keyboards have taken a much more central role. It’s not Rammstein going soft or, heavens forbid, pop, but it’s a decidedly more stripped down sound you get from bands whenever they get up to a certain point on their career.
That is to say that Rammstein still offers more compelling material than some of their contemporaries and, even better, their style is still recognizable as their own – this is perhaps because of the band’s stable lineup throughout the years, but moreso because the Rammstein “aura” is more or less preserved here. This is a double-edged sword, because you are not going to get innovation or something off-kilter and new, which, while familiar, is also somewhat stagnant.
Therein lies the main issue with Rammstein. It’s basically a milktoast rendition of the band’s sound, a rather timid rendition of their glory days, completely devoid of all urgency and very low in terms of actual driving force. It’s all very soft-impact, very easy on the listener and, as a result, very… light. The inexplicable dedication to lowkey, inoffensive hooks that sometimes take a moment to register because of how underwhelming they are (Radio and Weit Weg, for instance,) coupled with the simplified sound doesn’t exactly produce something that’s powerful.
And then there are moments like Puppe. Look, as good a singer as Till Lindemann is, his more abrasive vocal style does not lend itself well to acapella in the slightest (and the said section goes on for wayyy too long.) To add insult to injury, the song this happens in is a muddled, inconsequential mess. This wouldn’t be such an issue if the equally needless Diamant didn’t come just two tracks after and showed off his softer vocals in a way that makes Puppe look like a cutting room floor darling picked up out of sentiment.
While I’m at it: Puppe is also an offender mainly because it not only disrupts the album’s rather steady pulse, but it marks the beginning of a muddled period on Rammstein where the album sort of muddles its way through until the penultimate track, Tattoo, and it’s questionable how much of a recovery that is, especially since it leads into Hallomann, a song that starts out wonderfully just to dash your hopes by crashing and burning like a poorly thought-out prototype plane.
So, what’s the verdict, you ask?
Well, Rammstein is not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination. The band’s experience in crafting compelling songs even when you may not understand the lyrics is an underrated talent and they have lost nothing of this ability. Nor is there anything missing from the Rammstein identity that I could hear. That said, it is by no means a compelling or revolutionary record. For what it is, it is pretty nice and definitely worth a listen. Recommended primarily for Rammstein fans (I’m nice, not a saint.)
03. Zeig Dich
07. Was Ich Liebe
09. Weit Weg