Rammstein Album Review

Rammstein album cover   Band Name: Rammstein
Album Name: Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da
Rating: 5 / 5       User Rating: 0 / 5
Label: Universal Records
Buy Album: Amazon.com
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Tracklist
1. Rammlied
2. Ich Tu Dir Weh
3. Waidmanns Heil
4. Haifisch
5. B******
6. Frahling In Paris
7. Wiener Blut
8. Pussy
9. Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da
10. Mehr
11. Roter Sand


Holy crap.

This album is going to challenge my car's build quality, amongst other things.

It should be noted at this point that I don't understand German, so I'm working entirely from the music and the vocals for most of the album*, and believe me, I know very little about either of those aspects in the strictly technical sense. I am merely a wordsmith with a solid appreciation for music in general and Rammstein specifically. I'm sharing with you my knee-jerk response to this album, because I'm not qualified to do anything else. My views are probably visceral and lacking in intellectual value, so you musical technicians should maybe avert your eyes.

Additionally, until my pre-order comes with its bonus disc you should look on this as a review of disc one; The Eleven, the base album, vanilla LIFAD, or whatever you want to call it. This is all I get for now. That said, it's plenty to be going on with!

I listened over and over again, I wrote, and I now share my stream of impressions with you. My views will no doubt change over time and with further information, as they do, but one must start somewhere. Follow me as I totter down a thunderous road of Teutonic manliness:

Rammlied

Rammthem Alert! Yes, as you have no doubt already heard, [the song] Rammstein has been superseded by Rammlied. It's a fitting successor too. The track opens (and closes) with the almost Gregorian choral verse that tells us how loyal fans of Rammstein should conduct themselves. It's so damned pompous and provocative that it's endearing, and should amuse and arouse, but I know it's already irritated a lot of people. If you take it too seriously you will probably end up sulking or going gushy, so don't!

The riff is fairly old school, and the song is classic Rammstein, but the lyrics are the stuff of legend (in the most arrogant sense of the phrase), and it is fun. It's an Ein Lied-like nod to Rammstein fans but is more 'Rammsteinish'. Consider it to be Ein Lied as it would have been if it had been made in the style of Herzeleid and you might get an idea of what I'm talking about. Ein Lied was all about Rammstein 'making it better'. Rammlied is about Rammstein making life worth living. All Hail Rammstein!

Easy and regular tempo with grandiose and melodramatic interludes back up Till at his most bombastic. This song is fun. It's fundamentally Rammstein. It's a great and stirring way to open.

Ich Tu Dir Weh

The ecstatic pain of one of my favourite tracks opens with a waveform from Flake, which quickly drops into a (classic) hard riff via the drums. The rhythm is basic, but lively. It's like a heartbeat, and I don't just mean the primary beat. I also feel the little demi-beats that peek out from behind the main surge of an asymmetrical four chamber organ throbbing on and on and on...

That pulse is pervasive and relentless. The guitars, vocals, bass, and keyboards work to and around it. There is no getting away from it, and it is good. The song changes gear a few times, but the rhythm doesn't drop out. This track is riff-heavy, but is not lead by the riff. Schneider is most definitely the spine of this song. I feel it in my bones.

The chorus consists of beautiful voices undulating in and out of the rhythm. The choral melody is robust, if basic, and the layering of sound is rousing. This is a wall of sound done the right way. The verse contrasts by being fairly monotonal, which works very well.

Till pushes his voice through a range of textures. All work towards the feeling that he's trying to catch you out; lulling you slightly with full voice, all the while watching, and then pouncing with a switch to his trademark purr. The bridge is different again. He's almost in his knees, vocally speaking. There's an entreaty or pain in there, which I don't understand. I can't wait for a quality translation of these lyrics.

This is a seriously hot song though. It's oozing sex, but not in a nice wholesome way. No, that wouldn't be Rammstein at all. The sex dripping off Till's knuckles in this track is greasy, dirty, and white hot. There are plenty of promises in his voice…but they're almost entirely threats. His character is not being remotely friendly: he's definitely about to screw you in this unaffectionate but passionate encounter, but rather than being a lover you're so much meat caught in his headlamps, and it won't end well for you.

Got the idea?

Actually, I think this is the theme of the entire album. Ich Tu Dir Weh is just much more so. It's dark and hot and steamy, and I'm guessing the younger, more neurotic, heterosexual males reading this are shifting uncomfortably in their seats about now...

If you are listening to it properly it will leave you slightly breathless and entirely rapt. You may even experience the odd shiver up your spine. You'll never know quite how healthy or otherwise that is though...and there's no safety word should you seek escape.

Waidmanns Heil

There's a decent dose of raunchy danger in this one too. Till seems to throw out gleeful threats tempered with plenty of fun possibilities. He makes the vocal equivalent of bedroom eyes throughout. He wants to rub uglies. Not great surprise there. We Ramm-fans are a sexy bunch. Added to that is some nice vocal support work from the others.

Hunt horns open, then you're hurled straight to a conventional driving riff. This song is completely percussive, including the music and vocals. The chorus has a curious flash of the exotic and the melodic though. There's a lilting insert that leavens the frantic, pounding pace of the main refrain, and it's great. I'd love to know who came up with it, because it makes this song. The main refrain howls you down, beating you into submission in a very basic way, but when combined with that shiny sliver of melody it's really rather stunning.

After you've been introduced to the pattern via a full cycle and got a load of the manic pace you may feel, as I did, that it might drop to a jog here and there, but it doesn't really. The bridge quietens it all down, with a return of the horns, but the tempo remains throughout, held up by panting of all things. It's frantic and very cool, in a can't keep your body still kind of way.

Incidentally, the ignorant and bigoted will have a blast with the refrain and it's pace/timing. I won't go into detail, but listen for 'Waidmanns Heil' and think through how an idiot might take that.

Me? It makes me want to get up and take a swing at a mountain. YES!

Halfisch

Insanely metronomic with keyboards at the fore. That's this song in a nutshell. It's more than that though. I do get the feeling this is a wry observation on something intimate, which may come from the jaunty beat and keyboards, but there's also the almost mandatory sauce from Till, so I don't know what to make of it. Once again I will need a translation to unwrap the core.

There's nothing really musically dark in this song. The threat that is so blatant in other songs on LIFAD is simply not there, or kept entirely within the lyrics.

Till goes basso, which isn't as regular on this album as on earlier ones, but also sings full voice for the chorus. I love the way he uses his voice throughout. He's nailed what could so easily be a very mediocre song, voice-wise, and the tilts into basso demonstrate how much his vocal control and accuracy have improved over time. He's well and truly become the master of the mammoth vocal powerhouse he carries around with him.

The verses are very basic verbally, and while the chorus is more elegant it continues the rhythmically primitive cadence. That metronome is the driving force, with Flake's keyboard dancing around Till for much of the track, but with a fun drumming interlude with Till and Doom almost alone, save for some simple guitar chords, for the bridge that leads to the close.

Um, did I hear whale song during that bridge? Yeah, I think I did. Flake does have his moments of insanity, but it's kind of cute.

Oh, and there's a nice little fluid guitar piece at the end too. Good closure.

B*******

'Till's new word' is another metronomic piece. The basic beat is once again right for the song though, and is fluffed up with good use of dinnerware. I'm not sure what to say about the melody. This track has a fairly narrow range so the tune is shallow, but it's a roarer so that fits. All the range is in the bridge, where Till pushes out in all directions, but mainly upward, and stretches his wings.

Dramatically, Till is pulling all sorts of vocal faces throughout. He also takes his voice into a new area of the spectrum, and while effective it doesn't push my buttons. The wearable feeling his voice generally has is lacking in places. During the roaring refrain it becomes more like a concrete wall with broken glass embedded in it, than the textured and tactile curtain it usually seems to be. Where I've always wanted to wrap myself up in him before I now want keep a safe distance. That is probably the intent.

You really don't need to understand the lyrics to feel something from this, but I've found on repeatedly listening that what I feel varies. One hearing leaves me hyped and positive, and another leaves me feeling a little chilled. It's hard to work out.

Once again I'm getting a strong sexual vibe, but that may be entirely my imagination. It probably wouldn't be hard to see sex in a Rammstein song that has no such theme, simply because of the precedent they set early in their career as a unit.

Horns have been used again and a fairly riffy and repetitive close leaves me feeling as though they truncated it before it got boring. I like this song, but it's not at the top of my list.

Frühling in Paris

This song is so far from anything I've ever heard from Rammstein I feel like breaking into applause when I hear it. It's a brave effort, stunningly executed. It's got to be a torch song, and in the finest tradition of torch songs too, i.e. a heartfelt lament for lost love. I naturally don't have the story it tells, but that much seems clear.

The main verses are in German, but the refrain is French. Till seems to have carefully engineered it to meld the two languages though. The German vocabulary engaged is gentle and fluent, and his singing is stunning. I like this man's voice a lot, and have been impressed with how he uses it before now, but he's outdone himself with Frühling in Paris. The chorus makes the hairs on my body stand on end and gives me goosebumps.

To be honest, if it weren't for Till's voice I wouldn't ever have picked this is as a Rammstein song. It's timeless and not remotely ramming. The drums come in so late I was wondering if Schneider was out of the room. It has a gentle, but powerful opening, and becomes steadily more intense as it goes on, but it's never hard.

It's soulful, classic, uplifting, and charming. How far from the beaten track have they gone? They're on a path more commonly trod by women with jazz, blues, soul, or classical backgrounds. That's how far. Bravo!

For the record I love this song. I know Richard doesn't, but I think he was sensible to bow to the wishes of others and let it join its fellows. It's a masterpiece and contrasts well with the songs either side of it.

Wiener Blut

Willkommen

That single word, the way Till sings it, makes me cringe like a whipped puppy. He's managed to inject his basso singing with such menace in this song that I actually find him convincingly monstrous. He's at his most wicked here, and with reason. He's donned the persona of freak Fritzl.

Okay, it is all verbal posturing but he's a consummate operatic actor, and he is convincingly bad-arse. Oh yeah, in spades.

The song opens with a tinny waltz, sounding like a scratched record via a bad radio transmission. I'm not sufficiently well-informed to tell you if it is in fact Wiener Blut, the Strauss waltz, but either way it's eerie, if short-lived. It very quickly becomes swallowed by Flake's swell of electronic modernity, then an intense Till.

The beat through the gallops is new to me. Someone with a musical/percussion education will be able to tell me why. All I can say in my ignorance is that it's not something I can name, but it stands out.

Wiener Blut is constructed from drama upon drama upon drama. The riff, the drumming, the vocals, the gear changes; it all combines into a disturbing whole that smacks of badness. There are atmospheric samples throughout that make my skin crawl, my jaw clench, and my bile rise in turn, but all the same it's a compelling and quality song.

The riff is so very Rammstein, and the drumming is inspired. Nobody else could have produced Wiener Blut.

Pussy
Pussy is a warm blanket of amusing caricature I wrap myself up in after the chilling harshness of Wiener Blut, and it's about as tongue-in-cheek as anything Rammstein has done. I've read enough panning from fans to know that this song is going to remain a cross of shame for some, but it's got a certain snide cleverness that saves it from being trite, I think.

The main verses are in German, but the chorus is English, and is incredibly crass and childish. That is entirely in keeping with this song though. Pussy will catch and hold the attention of the lowest common denominator, simply because both the German and the English are peppered with words that those who speak neither language will recognise. Oh yeah, it's crude and it's vulgar, but it's catchy as hell and people will feel clever for recognising foreign words. This song will stick to the wall.

The music is fairly poppy in that it's catchy, but I reckon this is not a pop song. I doubt it will ever reach my favourites list and its vulgarity and pornographic video will keep it from mainstreaming too much, but I enjoy it, and I know a lot of other people do too, especially after a few hearings.

Paul has mentioned in an interview that the song pertains to sex tourism, i.e. the exploitation of national wealth disparities across Europe, and I guess other parts of the world, in order that people can travel to make use of dirt cheap prostitutes. This is a fairly invisible form of exploitation that doesn't get a lot of attention. Trust Rammstein to turn on the lights.

World, meet your seedy underbelly.

Liebe Ist Für Alle Da

LIFAD leaked in July and lead to an utter shit-storm, with legal actions and mayhem in the fan communities. It's always going to be more famous for that than it will ever be as a top-shelf Rammstein song, simply because it's not the type of song people become Rammstein converts over, but it's catchy and well-built, and is growing on me the more I hear it.

A drum intro' breaks into a fairly standard Rammstein riff, and a mildly sinister and purring Till, then quickly launches into the chorus. It continues this cycle with pendulous regularity. The bridge is guitar-based and isn't terribly special, but it does the job. The swelling 'Ich mach die Augen zu' verses are a highlight for me.

I'm not sure what to say about this song, other than it does seem, from what I can find about the lyrics, to be a Feuer und Wasser-esque look at women, but with a disturbing follow-through.

Do I seem terribly tepid? Don't get me wrong. This is a good song in the big picture, and outdoes many of Rammstein's earlier tracks, but compared to the stellar quality of this album it's something of a palate cleanser, rather than a full course.

Mehr

Mehr opens with a refined little piece from Flake and a guitar (no idea whose), then we're hit with Till at his most dramatic. He's shrugged himself into a role and every word he hurls at you is designed to convey that. Every word glistens with feeling, whoever he is.

It drops into a very heavy riff, then howls of 'MEHR!', then we're back in the relative calm of the opening music's gentle embrace, and then more dramatics. This song fluctuates, but Doom is once again a pervasive force throughout. I think this album, but more particularly this track are going to work the drummer hard when played live.

He does get some respite though. We have a lull in which Till and the guitars hold forth with Flake and Doom hanging fire.

Then they come back in and all you hear is beauty; seriously sweepingly swelling beauty. Till at his best with wonderful arrays of sound from everyone. Fucking gorgeous. I get a genuine lift from this bridge. It's unutterably beautiful.

Then Doom takes us back into the heavy riff and beat and MEHR! before closing out. Aaaand...I'm spent.

Roter Sand

Roter Sand is a heart-breaker and a perfect closer. Whistling leads into and punctuates a distinctly sorrowful acoustic ballad. To me it sounds like Till's telling a story that hurts like hell in the recounting, but that simply must be told. Imagine to yourself a battle-scarred, drunk veteran remembering his awful career, and you'll probably get the idea of what I'm hearing. This song is a wrench.

The chorus is pretty. It sounds like agony, but is lovely and almost 'anthemic', with the whistling always coming back in as a link to the next verse. The song is one to listen to while feeling maudlin and nostalgic. There's plenty of inspiration for the little weeper in us all.

From the verse/chorus alternation there are some lovely choral samples to bridge from main body to the final run at the chorus. This song (and disc) closes with a sigh from me.

Summary

Liebe Ist Für Alle Da is a huge mixture of smoking hot vocal sex, violent threats, menace, madness, and a tongue that is firmly planted in cheek (and other orifices) from Till; sweeping walls of sound that take your breath away; undulating melodies that weave in and out of metronomic Rammriffs; mesmeric, stimulating, and driving drums; and brutal sensory beatings, which all send you back for more. There are also some moments of gentle introspection and heart-rending emotion, but lets face it, that will never be the main directive of this band. 'The Primary Eleven' leaves you feeling bruised, raw, and utterly fucked (in every sense of the word), and is a seriously positive addition to the Rammstein catalogue. I have no idea what the 'deluxe' second disc will add to this, but it'd have to be pretty dire to detract from LIFAD's base CD.

Schneider's drumming has evolved, I think. He's developed a new set of tools and made good use of them.

Till has lifted his vocal accuracy and control in a fairly major way. There are moments, mainly in the earlier albums, where I wonder why he forced his voice to go to places it simply wasn't built to go to, and yet on this album he's breezing past limits he hit in past efforts. I'm wondering if he will keep improving as he gets older, or if he'll hit the wall at some point and we'll see a baseline.

I'll remark his lyrics when I know what they mean. At this early stage I'll just say that they flow and create textures as effectively as they always have for me, back when I just listened, rapt, to Rammstein without a clue of what they were on about.

I can't really comment on the individual progress of Flake, Richard, Olli, or Paul, but as a group they have most definitely moved up to a new level. This is the most well-rounded album to date, in my opinion.

I have fallen in love all over again.

*Rammlied, LIFAD, and Pussy are the exceptions here. I've read a few translations of varying quality now.


Review by: Camilla Koutsos

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