by Maggie Bloodstone -
SGN Contributing Writer
RAMMSTEIN: pronounced Rrrrammshtine. As in: to Ram. With a stone. As in: a six-man assault team camouflaged as obscenely talented hard rock musicians who have been redefining industrial/heavy metal since they sprang fully formed from the rubble of the Berlin Wall in 1994, whelped on The Ramones, Ministry, Kraftwerk, and the sound of their own hearts full of napalm beating in thunderous sync. They've generated more unapologetic outrage than every American heavy metal band in history combined (that's including Marilyn Manson), with songs like "Buck Dich" (Bend Down), performed with simulated anal copulation live onstage, "Mein Teil" (My Part, aka penis), which features the fun side of cannibalism, and the Gayest video ever, "Mann Gegen Mann" (Man Against Man), which definitely needs to be in rotation at The Cuff till the end of time. And they're more German than a Fassbinder film about Valkyries at Oktoberfest.
With a physique like a medieval fortress and the stage presence of Wotan himself, only more masculine and with flamethrowers, uberbasso Till Lindemann channels the apocalypse with every roar, snarl, moan, and whisper. Plainly speaking, if this man's voice was a dick, I'd suck it, and so would you (even if you're a big dyke). If it was a pussy, I'd dive in and stay the weekend, and so would you (even if you're a big fag). His lyrics, even loosely translated, conjure up vivid images of cannibalism, nonconsensual sex, necrophilia, S&M (heavy on the S), incest and ultraviolence - and that's on the good days (the bad days, you don't want to know about). But for those who can make it past Lindemann's first circle of hell, there is also ecstasy, obsession, despair, ennui, fear and loathing, and - oh, yeah - love. More precisely, the kind of love that leaves you twitching and jabbering on the bathroom floor of the foulest dive bar in Berlin with your vital organs ripped out and stuffed in your mouth, cunt, anus - you know, real love.
Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da means just that: "Love Is For All There," even the most degenerate, damaged, detestable, and debauched among us - you know who you are. Lindemann once referred to Rammstein as "Love in all its manifestations" - Gay, straight, Bi, Trans, omnisexial, pansexual, nonsexual & file it all under L for love. And this, Rammstein's sixth studio album, is a hunka' hunka' burning, oozing, drooling, seething love - which, in RammLand, is not only a battlefield; it's a charnel house.
"Rammlied" (Rammsong): The term "Wagnerian" is more than a bit overused, especially in the case of metal bands whose musical reach exceeds their technical grasp, but in this case, we have here a modern Sigfried bursting from the earth in a PVC loincloth and The Ring of the Nibelung on his godlike shvanze. The lyrics are a regal welcome to Rammstein's faithful (and patient) audience, flavored with sentiments that hark to Queen's "One Vision": "One way/One energy/One intent/ Ramm! Stein!" Clearly intended to be the opening number for the new tour, it is, as the kids say, "epic" in every conceivable sense. With a side order of awesome.
"Ich Tu' Dir Weh" (I Hurt You): Musically as close to pop as they ever get, with a swooping, infectious chorus, but lyrics like "Barbed wire in the urethra/Flesh in salt and pus" lets you know you are most certainly not in Jonas Bros. territory (more like Buffalo Bill's boudoir in Silence Of The Lambs). Most metal vocalists would turn their sphincters inside out assuring the listener that they are indeed BAMFs, but Lindemann states simply and without histrionics that he will, indeed, do a Saw VII on your ass and not blink an eye. He will peel you like a grape and snack on your exposed internal organs. And you will like it.
"Waidmann's Heil" (Huntsman's Salutation): Hard-charging headbanging on horseback designed to make any Rammstein fan, male or female, ejaculate with joy and a sterling example of Lindemann's deceptive wordsmanship: "I have been in heat for days/So I will hunt a naked game." So, he could be talking about hunting a stag and dragging it back to a hunting lodge in the remotest part of the Bavarian Alps for his wolfhide-wearing clan to feast upon - but I doubt it.
"Haifisch" (Shark): Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" plus "Mack The Knife" as arranged by Depeche Mode and performed on Jager bombs and Viagra. Early on in Rammstein's history, rhythm guitarist Paul Landers described their (working) relationship as "a six-way marriage," and with the line "Six hearts that burn," Lindemann makes it clear the school of sharks in question are himself and his comrades. Six tireless souls that must move or die, six carnivores that smell blood, strike, and spit out the bones of the weaklings. Six sharks that weep soundlessly. "But the shark lives in water/So no one can see the tears." All right, so I got choked up. What's it to ya?
"Buckstabu" (Buckstabu): Don't bother Googling it; they made it up. "Don't do that/Let it be/Don't grasp onto it/Simply say no." In other words, stop or you'll go blind (that's my interpretation of an uninterpretable word, anyway). And if you listen to this nasty-ass grinder cranked above seven, you may go deaf - but it will be worth it. Rammstein + Rob Zombie riffs = I can die happy.
"Fruhling In Paris" (Spring In Paris): Ever wondered what the result of a three-way between Marlene Dietrich, Edith Piaf and Scott Walker might be like? Me neither - until now. I'm guessing the offspring of such a celestial union would sound - and emote - much like Herr Lindemann here. Matter of fact, he borrows directly from "Non, Je Ne Regret Rien" (in juicily accented French). "Spring bleeds in Paris." It could be about losing one's virginity to a Mademoiselle in a communion dress, it could be about an inexperienced Junger in an assignation with a seasoned Gallic prostitute, or it could be a love song for a murder victim. Whatever, this is a torch song delivered with a flamethrower and painfully gorgeous instrumentation that would leave Jacques Brel himself misty-eyed.
"Weiner Blut" (Viennese Blood): Based on the real-life gothic horror story of Josef Fritzl, the Austrian Uberpatriarch who kept his daughter captive in his basement and fathered seven children with her over 24 years. (And you thought the deep south had the franchise on such family values?) Lindemann bids the listener "Wilkommen" like the emcee of Cabaret as portrayed by Jabba the Hutt (only sexier). A rusty gramophone intro, children's laughter, and combustible guitars and drums underscore the ugliest love story ever told: "I plant in you a little sister/The skin so young/the meat so firm/Under the house a love nest." Challenge yourself - listen to this in the dark. I dare ya.
"Pussy" (Exactly what you think it is): Ostensibly about sexual tourism, but the audiences for Rammstein's live show are going to be too busy bellowing "You've got a pussy/I've got a dick/What's the problem/Let's do it quick!" to care about any major social relevance. It's just plain stoopid fun, peppered with the few German words most Americans know: blitzkrieg, fahrvergnugen, bratwurst, sauerkraut. Unapologetic, joyous filth that made it to #1 on the German charts, set tabloids abuzz (mostly for the XXX-rated video and the extra-special CD box set, which features a pair of handcuffs, lube, and a sextet of candy-pink dildos. Six dildos, six band members - I'm just sayin'...), and divided stateside Ramm-fans more severely than Dylan going electric. The music is more dance-floor-friendly than most of their oeuvre, but still slashy enough to chase your average Pink fan out of the room. In tears.
"Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da" (See above): Rammstein's punkiest number since the last one, which would be "Zerstoren" (Destroy) from '05's Rosenrot. The hippy-dippy title is a kissy-kissy Trojan Horse carrying a disturbing little tale of unrequited love - no, lust & no, love. Another canny example of Lindemann's double-meaning wordsmithing: maybe he raped her, maybe he just fantasized it, and is the thought equal to the deed? And is it still love if it's not returned? (Well, yeah.)
"Mehr" (More): Could be an indictment of materialism, could just be Lindemann being really honest and shouting to the heavens what every rock star really feels in his or her self-absorbed, piggy little heart: "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" Either life is so unbearably empty, or it's so fan-freaking-tastic, I want more! Of what? Whataya got? "I accept everything/Even if it is bad." Maybe it's just me, but that is one deep-ass sentiment. Muscular lead guitar by Richard Z. Kruspe make this celebration of gleeful gluttony a true crotch-grabber.
"Roter Sand" (Red Sand): Story time, Rammstein style. A lovelorn loser of a good old-fashioned duel lies dying on the beach: "Red sand and white pigeons/Feast on my blood/At the end/I was good for something." Flavored with tremulous whistling and a guitar line reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt," it closes the album with a whimper, not a bang, and leaves the listener with a feeling of spent melancholy - sort of like the molten afterglow following a particularly magnificent night of ficking.
Like me, hard-line Rammstein fans may require a second listen (unlike me, preferably sober) to fully absorb what LIFAD has to offer - it still rocks harder than a pair of T-rexes copulating in a Panzer tank during the siege of Leningrad, but it's a wirier sound, assisted by Christian "Flake" Lorenz's keyboard sorcery and a rawer pulse courtesy of Cristoph "Doom" Schneider's percussive arsenal. As always, the string triumvirate of Kruspe, Landers, and bassist Olli Reidel is a testosterone-and-adrenaline cocktail, alternating between buzzsaws, Messerschmitts, white water rapids and leather angel wings. Their songwriting chops remain firm as Rommel at Tobruk, but sufficiently innovative to derail any complacency on the part of their long-time fanbase. And you may well require a lobotomy to get the hookier tunes out of your head - so, if you end up suddenly belting out the chorus of "Pussy" during the Eagle's next underwear party, you know who to blame.
Much like other Teutonic specialities, like beer with Fanta, Rosa von Praunheim, and rrrreally imaginative fetishism, Rammstein is definitely not for the squeamish, the closed-minded, or the lazy. Appreciation of their work requires - nein, demands - active participation on the part of the listener (would it kill you to look up a few German words?) and the ability to not presume Herr Lindemann must be one twisted fuck to even think about what he sings about, and the rest of the band must be "enablers" at the least and co-sickos at the most. They are life-affirming, death-affirming, transgressive, profane, and painfully human. What more do you want in a rock band, you greedy bitch?
Share on Facebook
Share on Delicious
Share on StumbleUpon!