Review Summary: Gotta light?
Time is the underlining motif for Rammstein’s long-awaited return, looming over every aspect of its creation. Rammstein
’s artwork is symbolic of this: a lone matchstick laid bare to a white backdrop – it’s a far cry to the luscious, provocative scenery of Liebe Ist Für Alle Da
’s cover, or the repulsive simplicity of Sehnsucht
. No, at a first glance the cover appears surprisingly bland and tame by Rammstein comparisons. However, the matchstick represents a number of things that really drive home where this band’s headspace is at these days: the design’s austerity shows a mature artistic restraint previously unseen by the band until now; the matchstick itself contains the very element that made the band the adulated juggernauts they are today; and it’s the same device that once lit, burns brightly for a limited amount of time before fading out forever. The past, the present and the future are encompassed in this tiny inanimate object, which, in spite of its initially disappointing visual allures, paints a thousand words before you even hear a note of the band’s seventh album. It’s the basis of which this entire record continues to remind you of, and it does so with sophistication and intelligence. 2019 marks one for the books; as the decade draws to a close, both Rammstein and Tool will have finally released albums that were becoming fabled tales – almost never to materialise into anything other than fervent dreams. Though I can’t speak for the quality pertaining to Tool’s new album, Rammstein
sternly proclaims an artistic broadening that’s fresh and emotional, yet understandably retrospective.
The production in particular is a really positive draw for the record, largely down to its bright and powerful presence. These are big, grandiose compositions that are shaped by crisp, vibrant drums, guitars that cut through with blinding clarity and an overall focus on dynamic that’s as dense as it is intricate. That said, it’s blatantly obvious something is different here and it shouldn’t be difficult to figure out why. This is the first album in the band’s career to ditch their long-time producer, Jacob Hellner, in favour of Richard’s rhythm guitarist in Emigrate. Olsen Involtini has recorded all of Emigrate’s albums and for what it’s worth, he brings a really distinct signature sound to his production. For better or worse, it’s a fresh perspective on Rammstein’s sound that brings more wealth and payoff than problematic handicaps. The symphonic undertones really come into their own on here, taking the likes of “Was Ich Liebe” and “Zeig Dich” to new heights in terms of their lavish classical influences. The synth is handled masterfully throughout the album as well: the ominous clouds which soak into the driving and thrash-y verses of “Zeig Dich”; Flake’s leading melody embodies “Deutschland” and becomes the linchpin of the entire song; and the retro EDM samples for “Radio” really showcase Flake’s passion and keen expressiveness for this project.
It’s just an all-round fun album to listen to. You can tell Till has had a lot of fun recording this album, drawing from a wide array of emotions and styles. “Auslander” has a europop vibe to it with one of the most cathartic choruses of 2019; it’s cheesy, it’s full of beans, and it’s one of the best songs on the album – it’s simply wonderful to sit through. “Puppe” sits in the same territory as “Auslander” for its no-holds-barred approach to songwriting. The minimalist build-up soon reaps its rewards with an untameable juggernaut of a third-quarter, hearing Till let loose with the most unhinged vocal performance he’s ever done, sat on top of exploding drum work and buzzsaw guitars. But even with these more interesting elements being taken out of the equation, melodies throughout Rammstein
are top-notch. The band have a keen ear for gorgeous and catchy melodies, the likes of which closing piece “Hallomann” and “Sex” contain. You’ll have a lot of these songs stuck in your head well after hearing them, which clearly shows the band’s abilities as writers, but it’s certainly indicative of how on-the-ball Till is with his contributions as a singer.
comes as little surprise to me; the band has always pushed its creativity into new areas and they always succeed without losing their core fundamentals. However, this is probably the first time we’ve seen the band push themselves into a space that might put a few purists off. Essentially Rammstein
is an odd amalgamation of Rammstein and Emigrate. Sure, it successfully pushes the band into new pastures, but its clinical presentations might disappoint some as a result. It lacks the signature grime of Hellner’s takes and it’s a perfectly understandable criticism to share: Hellner was effectively the unofficial seventh member of the band and it becomes a smidgen disheartening to know that he wasn’t involved in what could be Rammstein’s final venture. Another nitpick is the absence of their metal edge. The Emigrate comparison resonates louder when you listen to the album’s intentional shift into industrial rock over industrial metal. The likes of “Sex” sounds like a riff straight out of the Emigrate vault; the stadium-stomping riffage associated with Emigrate is omnipresent here and it makes songs feel less hostile when compared to previous Rammstein efforts. Those looking for their heaviest album to date will be disappointed, this is the most lucid we’ve heard the band but it’s not necessarily meant as a derogatory remark. The band have found a weird sweet spot that sheds their brazen, shock-rock antics for a more rounded journey. It’s an organic shift that occasionally leaves moments yearning for a really heavy section to take hold, but it’s not enough to derail the songs entirely.
It’s this approach to the entire package of Rammstein
that highlights their age. After a 10-year studio silence, Rammstein have returned with elegance and grace over shock value. They’re older and wiser, but they continue to provide the same unwavering work ethic they always have. This is a fantastic return that shows the artistic thrust we’ve come to expect from the band, but it’s done in a way that sheds their controversial desires for good, honest songwriting. It’s probably the most vastly experimental offering to date, next to Rosenrot
, but it makes sure to add a trove of tasteful elements from previous sounds while it’s doing it. Most bands that have been out of the game for this long fail to succeed in their broken silence with a satisfying resolve, unsurprisingly Rammstein flick the pressure off their shoulders with ease and present a mature evolution in sound. It might not be the best album they’ve ever produced, but considering what it was going up against, it comes as a resounding success. If this is the last matchstick to be lit by the German titans, it’s a send-off most will be satisfied with.
FORMAT//EDITIONS: DELUXE CD/̶/̶C̶D̶/̶/̶V̶I̶N̶Y̶L̶/̶/̶D̶I̶G̶I̶T̶A̶L̶/̶/̶
PACKAGING: The 'Deluxe' edition of the CD contains no bonus material – the extra money goes entirely towards the album's packaging. A DVD sized 12-panel case, with various pieces of artwork on each panel.
SPECIAL EDITION BONUSES: N/A
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: https://shop.rammstein.de/en/catalog/visuals-sounds/cd.html