Review Summary: SchputnikMusickenDotKommen
NOTE: This review has been significantly amended by the author on 14 Jan 2007 to fix certain inaccuracies and some bad writing that has been bugging him - me - ever since. --- Clumpy
"[The] German language suits heavy metal music. French might be the language of love, but German is the language of anger." - Oliver Riedel. Bassist, Rammstein
After more than a decade, Rammstein's sophomore LP still represents Tanz-Metall at its finest. Sehnsucht is dark, fast and epic (and above all, highly, highly listenable). The best elements of the album are the same aspects likely to alienate potential fans - sinister, growling German vocals and mechanical, plodding riffs. These are the exact elements, we might add, that attracted us (and millions of other fans) to Rammstein in the first place.
Rammstein ventures far from the atonal dredge that is much metal music, making a point to infuse melody (often glorious, epic melody) into every track. The sound is clean and never sludgy, the synthesizers lilting and angelic. Former almost-Olympic swimmer Till Lindemann's gruff vocals couldn't possibly fit a non-NDH band, but here they work beautifully - equal parts sinister and passionate. Lindemann's vocal range is impressive - though Lindemann plods through most of the songs with his trademark guttural gnarl, he proves himself quite a crooner on some of the later tracks (listeners interested in this side of Rammstein would do well to check out "Mutter", the less-immediate but more rewarding followup to "Sehnsucht"). Lindemann isn't a Serj Tankian-style versatilist, but his vocals contribute well and lend the songs their sense of urgency.
"Sehnsucht" works best when it presses its electronic elements - at the surface, the album plods along with machine-gun intensity, but the electronic slides and burbles work under the surface, giving the album depth and subtlety. The best moments of this album are the lighter ones - when the deep guitars and light, euphonious synths are forced to reconcile during the chorus of "Engel", or when Lindemann gives way to the wonderful female vocals of the same song.
Nearly ever track on Sehnsucht paints the same picture and possesses many of the same elements: gruff, serious uberdeep German vocals, wallshaking riffs, and sophisticated electronic doodickery. The method is in the madness - Rammstein make a big show of being unhinged, but they know their craft and execute it well.
Sure, some of the songs consist of one riff repeated ad infinitum, and the chorus is often merely the song's title growled over and over again, but that's not really an issue. Rammstein's focus was obviously to release a danceable, immediate record, and that they've done well, to the extent that I still consider Sehnsucht something of a classic.
This band shamely plays up German stereotypes - blond, muscular fetishists who light pyrotechnics on stage and issue harsh, punishing commands - an image few are seriously buying. Whether you think their image is rubbish or not, it's hard to fault the music. Sehnsucht is neither art nor dreck. Having said that, it is
plenty innovative and listenable. Though Rammstein knows that in practice you will catch more flies with vinegar than honey, they don't neglect their sweeter elements.
"Sehnsucht" is a guilty pleasure, but no doubt it's a great one.
Thanks for reading.
Clumpy's blog : http://clumpy.blogspot.com