Review Summary: Germany's biggest band puts on a great show, but it feels like it could be bit better.
What's the first thing you think of when someone mentions Germany? Unfortunately for this European country, many will recall the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. Some might think of the Berlin Wall, communism or its fall in 1989. The country's name might also bring Einstein, Mozart, Bach and other historically significant people to mind. However, any fan of industrial or heavy metal will very likely think of Rammstein.
Since 1995 this industrial outfit has been gaining more and more success, mainly from the well-known single "Du Hast" off of 1998's Sehnsucht
. Controversy and even jail time time are not new to the group, and years of touring have established Rammstein as an exciting live act. There is unmistakable energy (natural considering the music they play) and onstage antics that make their live show fantastic (as well as something that I'll get to later).
is a CD/DVD combo released last year, containing footage from three concerts in France, Japan and Russia. Over an hour of the film is from France, with only 5 live songs in Japan and a couple tracks performed in Russia. The audio CD contains 16 songs, a "compilation" of music from all three shows.
The concert in Nimes, France, is the main reason for the purchase. Filmed in a Roman amphitheater, it gets going pretty quickly with the opening sample from "Reise, Reise". One by one, the band members come out, and the concert is underway. From a sound perspective, Volkerball
is near perfect. Every instrument is clear, easily heard and sounds similar to a studio recording. Till Lindemann's voice might be the highlight: his soft growls and operatic singing sound as strong as ever, only losing some of their power near the end of the concert. Onstage antics make the concert even more entertaining - Lindemann acts crazy at times and constantly "abuses" the keyboard player, who likewise acts odd throughout the concert.
Four songs into the concert, Rammstein get to what everybody's been waiting for. "Feuer Frei" translates to "Fire at Will!" in German, and before the final refrain of the song, both guitarists and Lindemann re-emerge with flame-throwers strapped to their faces. Said pyrotechnics will make appearances in 5 more songs and serve as the main attraction of the band's live show.
Being released after Rosenrot
, one would expect the setlist to emphasize Rammstein's latest album. Luckily, it doesn't. In fact, there isn't one song from Rosenrot
performed during the show. Any fans of said album will be disappointed, however this reviewer is pleased that their weakest album is treated as if it doesn't exist (it would be nice to have "Mann Gegen Mann" played live, however). Most of the songs on the DVD come from Reise, Reise
instead, although the standouts from all three previous albums get their deserved attention.
Last of all, the editing is excellent. Unlike so many other live DVDs and music videos produced in recent times, Volkerball
doesn't seem to suffer from ADD; each camera angle has a decent running time and it's not hard to understand what is happening at any one time.
With all the exciting things captured in Volkerball
, it's certainly not perfect. Sans the vocalist, each member isn't really that energetic and stands in place for a good deal of the concert. This seems to reinforce the desire to watch the vocalist, however, and any lack of energy does not translate to [much] boredom for the viewer.
There are also two problematic songs performed during the concert at Nimes. "Los" sounds just fine when played in a CD player, but live the band decided to stretch it out to an extremely tedious six minutes. "Stripped" also gets strong exposure as the finale - a bad choice when it's a weak cover and Lindemann's English sounds odd. This is somewhat easy to forgive when the bass player rides out into the crowd on board an inflatable raft (a sight that's somewhat cool to watch). It would also have been nice to include more material in the other two concerts, because there's so little footage from London and France that they're barely worth mentioning.
Rammstein fans will be more than pleased with this package. Most people will be pleased as well, because the visual spectacle and onstage antics are quite interesting to watch. Volkerball
could be better, though, if the whole band showed more excitement and integrated more pyrotechnics. If you're not a fan, don't get this if it's real expensive, but if you're lucky then you should enjoy it.
Final rating: ~3.8