Review Summary: Links
It would be unfair of me to say that nobody asked for this album, and that all the people really want at this point, with pleaded desperation, is one last collection of fresh Rammstein tunes. But I mean, damn, you can’t blame them; it’ll be ten years next year that we’ve been waiting for the impending seventh LP – hopefully receiving said demand in the first half of 2019 – and in that time, we’ve had two Emigrate records and Till Lindemann’s industrial comedy act, aptly named, ‘Lindemann’. The thing is, despite the ruthless clamour of Rammstein’s fanbase, a lot of people overlook these records, and it’s a shame because they’re extremely entertaining side projects that highlight the unwavering consistency found within its members’ main day job. Lindemann is sure to please fans with a sound cut straight from the same cloth as Rammstein’s – only with a more relaxed and playful approach to lyrical themes and content; meanwhile Emigrate sits more content with broadening its ambitions: being more self-serious and boundary moving in terms of Richard’s usually routine songwriting. Of course, Richard has had more time to sit in this band’s skin since he’s been doing Emigrate now for a whopping 11 years. On this third offering, however, it’s evident he’s found a repeating format he’s happy to present this kind of music in. That format, for better or worse, comes from the support of Mr. Kruspe’s chosen guest vocalist's which attempt to add the spice of life to his music.
Silent So Long
was a really solid offering that had an eclectic selection of music icons to add a surprising breadth of variety to the album’s tracks and flow. The likes of Peaches and Marilyn Manson showed a different scale of promise for the future ahead, and I think Richard has cottoned on to that here as it continues along the same formula. That said, this style isn’t without its shortcomings; Lemmy Kilmister and Jonathan Davis’ appearances read interesting on paper but were actually disappointingly lacklustre performances that missed out on their golden potential, through either poor direction and handling or more simply, the material they were given was ill suited to them. This is a small part of Emigrate’s sophomore album (and an even smaller aspect here, as it’s only four tracks with guest spots – as opposed to the six previous), but the album’s cohesion kneels under the guillotine for these moments to pay off. As it happens, Silent So Long
got by with relative ease, successfully integrating its features with a nice, fat production and some tasty stadium-stomping riffs. It also didn’t go unnoticed that Kruspe’s vocal work had improved tremendously since his first stab at being under the limelight, elevating the album with tight pronunciations and infectious radio hooks. By the end of the record, it left you feeling like there was a scintillating door being left wide open for if there was ever to be a return.
Emigrate’s focus this time around zones in primarily on melody, concise structures and a more uplifting sound palate. Driving and simplistic tempos are merely the budding support for Richard’s fluffy performances and grandiose harmonies. In fact, the lack of light shed on the guitar riff is surprising, making more headroom for electronics to play a far more predominant role for this outing. The glittery synths on “We Are Together” and “You Are So Beautiful” bring new wave elements to this band’s usual arsenal of sounds; an exuberant and romantic haze which coats over what would otherwise be typically generic rock riffs. The sentiment isn’t to be taken as a detriment either, it’s certainly a change of pace for Richard and adds as a welcoming evolution that works in their favour. It also goes without saying that the Till Lindemann feature track is a subversion of my initial expectations as well, bracing myself for a face melting riff and Lindemann’s usual banter but in reality, actually serves up as one of the catchiest synth-rock tracks for the entire album. Indeed, A Million Degrees
does this often. There’s just enough familiar characteristics to class this as an Emigrate record, but for the most part it does a 180 on what you’d associate this band with. It also helps that this melody-focused LP has melodies that pay off effectively. The soaring highs on “A Million Degrees” sit harmoniously over a juxtaposition of poignant post-rock electronics and upbeat rhythmic guitar parts that fight it out for the duration; the towering tension from “War”’s mainstay guitar riff erupts when it comes to the symphonic backing parts and Richard’s digestible string of words that work in a way that’s reminiscent of the more recent Rammstein LPs; and the industrially charged “Spitfire” hears the barking backing vocals underneath Kruspe’s soft singing. It’s effective writing that holds a pretty endless supply of memorable moments that’ll be in your head well after the album has finished.
Finally, I’d like to point out Richard’s continued improvements as a vocalist, managing to outshine the guests that appear on here in the process. The likes of Cardinal Copia does a serviceable job of maintaining the consistent aesthetic here – which is a commendable bonus in itself – but the performances themselves are largely forgettable when you’re looking at the bigger picture. The man in charge just has so many great moments that it’s impossible to overlook his merits. Ultimately, all this comes as complete irony, because A Million Degrees
initially worried me with its bland punk rock swagger and Billy Talent guested single “1234”; a song that did little to promote what the final product would end up being. In actual fact, this is a success story in pushing the band into new territories whilst maintaining their core values. It not only makes Richard look supremely focused and on form as an artist, but marks as a reason to check out Emigrate’s entire discography if you haven’t already – just to see how far they’ve come. With this kind of quality output coming from a side project, it only makes my eyes widen for what they’ll be cooking up for the inevitable cessation of Rammstein’s career. Exceeding my expectations here only warrants as proof on how Rammstein have left such a lasting impression on the music world – something that transcends their fiery live shows if you look properly and see the songwriting on offer – but it also highlights Richard Z. Kruspe’s important role in that band as well.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A
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