Rammstein was always a band that centred around polarity and controversiality. With many critics accusing them of being Neo-nazis due to the sound of their music: aggressive, thumping and electronically-influenced, and many murderers quoting their musical influences as Rammstein, the band was under heavy fire from officials. Their live antics also ended them in jail for a couple days (see also under "sodomy incidents.") They wrote a song called Links 2 3 4 as a riposte to that, a blasting, militaristic piece that describes how their heart beat on the left rather than the right.
It is this same grit, anger, and heaviness that can be found on Reise, Reise. While the overtly obvious Techno influences have been shed in favour of a more atmospheric and melodic sound, the band nevertheless still mucks about with downtuned riffs which blitzkrieg their way around the speakers, Till's ridiculous bass vocals, and beautiful keyboard effects to enhance the atmosphere. All the elements are present to make a good Rammstein record.
And it makes a good one. Mr. Lindemann is on excellent form, vocally as well as lyrically, he shows he has mastered the craft of singing. Till has a booming voice that conveys melody and sadness as well as raw aggression. He can use his voice in a lot of different styles without having to resort to grunting, which is an achievement in itself, and on top of that his lyrics are hilarious sometimes. Amerika is a tongue-in-cheek political satire on, you guessed it, American consumerism, with some English vocal lines thrown in for good measure.
Mein Teil is most guilty of being totally messed up however. Discussing the Armin Meiwes case (a convicted cannibal), it humorously parodies the sentiments of the cannibal towards his victim. The accompanying videoclip was so odd that the German media dubbed the whole thing the "Kannibalensong", yet even despite its controversiality it managed to gain airplay; just not when little kiddies are around. Rammstein simply isn't the band you give to your 8 year old son to listen to. It wouldn't surprise me if he ended up being a bloody killer.
Despite the political and messed up overtones, Rammstein also have a definite poetic side, with the song Dalai Lama being based on the story of the Erlkönig by Goethe I think, and Ohne Dich is a power ballad in the vein of Nebel that is just really, really, well, sad. Ohne Dich is a testament to the fact that everyone who thinks this band is merely about Brutality has got it completely wrong; Rammstein, indeed, despite their image have more facets to their music, and the ridiculously beautiful Ohne Dich underlines that.
So, do you have to get this record? Well, Mutter is a better place to start for Rammstein, as it combines both their later melodic and their earlier techno influences to the max, but this record is an excellent one nonetheless. I still listen to Rammstein occasionally, and it was the band that got me into metal, and this album is for a longtime fan a quite pleasant experience. Just don't pay attention to the parts of their lyrics that gross you out, you just gotta make sure the band doesn't eat your stomach.