Since its release on May 17th, Rammstein‘s untitled album, and subsequently insane European tour, have almost never not been a basis for one trending news article or another; and for good reason. It wouldn’t be too far off the mark to say this is their most interesting album in decades, if not the most interesting period.
Rammstein has always been controversial in subject matter, and this album is no different, particularly with songs like “HALLOMANN,” in which the lyrics describe a pedophile kidnapping a little girl and presumably assaulting her on a beach, and “PUPPE,” which takes us through the disturbed mindset of a young child whose sister works as a prostitute and who is eventually beaten to death in the room next to theirs by a client as the child rips their doll apart. The difference in this album is the direction in which the cannon of the controversial is aimed and the juxtaposition of the standard Rammstein heavy tone and heavier subject matter with some very experimental, comparatively, sounds and songs that verge from hyper historical critique and commentary to a genuinely somber and almost sweet and short ballad rounding out the last third of the album.
You have “DEUTSCHLAND” and “RADIO,” which I have already gone on about at some length, acknowledging, critiquing, and sometimes outright criticizing German history both in totality and in the separation period of East and West Berlin, as well as “ZEIG DICH,” which lyrically goes for blood against The Church and its hypocrisy harder than most black metal bands’ entire discographies. Electronic sounds proper enhance the riff in “RADIO” and the chorus of “AUSLÄNDER,” in ways that border on old school German synth more than any of their songs prior all while still maintaining the backbone of what makes a Rammstein song sound like it “should” so to speak.
And while many Rammstein ballads are traditionally light but disturbing (“Liese,” for example) or heavy musically and bordering on cruel for the most part lyrically (“Morganstern”) this album’s main ballad, “DIAMANT,” is one of the softest and genuinely saddest songs I’ve heard from the band in a long time. It’s almost mournful, and brings to mind so many stories of one-sided, abusive, or otherwise doomed relationships that end not with an explosive fight or argument, but with a quietly painful feeling of loss and failure.
Of course, the other songs on the album are as solid sonically if not as lyrically complex, and there is already no shortage of outrage at either subject matter in general or the handling of, as usual, but it would be a mistake to just read the headlines and the public opinion, and not experience this work for yourself. It’s beautiful, self-reflective, viciously aggressive, and a masterful probable end to a fantastic career.