Rammstein: The Power and the Glory
Updated: Jul 30, 2019
“A Teutonic je ne sais quoi ( ein Ich-weiß-nicht-was) ”
Rammstein are uniquely German, rejecting musical influences from outside their borders; whatever metal genre they are described as (including "Dance Metal" in one case!) , it is unmistakably German metal. It seems to me only the Germans can do those heavy chugging riffs that bring to mind the deep rhythmic beat of steel foundry machines and the clunking of rolling tank tracks; a Teutonic je ne sais quoi....combined with catchy choruses, hooks and keyboard techno that all feel's good...
The six members of the band are from East Germany and brought the grit and character of people oppressed by a totalitarian regime to the new Germany in 1994, along with a cheeky sense of humour that I sampled some years ago from East Berliners. I admire the resilience and strength of the East Germans who can now express themselves and re-discover their own culture within a re-unified Germany. As an aside, other East German musicians re-discovered their Celtic bagpipe heritage and began making their own bagpipes, distinct from Scottish pipes, and used in the contemporary folk metal genre in bands such as Berlin's In Extremo, Nachtgeschrei (Frankfurt), Ignis Fatuu (Nuremberg)...
Rammstein , named after the Rammstein airforce base disaster in Germany, have had the same line up since forming in Berlin in 1994, releasing 9 albums. The deeply guttural Germanic vocals of Till Lindemann are those of a former basket weaver, poet and co-founder with Richard Krupse, lead guitar, who himself escaped to the West originally and after a visit to America, rejected American rock influences.
After re-unification, Krupse enrolled other former Eastern factory workers including keyboard player Christian Lorenz, an eccentric joker who wears a sparkly cat suit, in contrast to the leathery gothic armour of the rest and walks on a treadmill plus a repertoire of funny stage walks that John Cleese would be proud of, whilst playing the keyboard!
The Fact is, whether their songs are about love or politics, Rammstein are immense showmen with pyrotechnics and sheer audio power that excites and spurs massive audience participation. Strong and catchy choruses and sometimes emotively powerful songs simply move and perhaps raise the adrenalin of many and with such musical power, they could motivate an army of followers to change the world; indeed they are as popular in America and Russia (where, even after the history between the two countries, the audience sings in German!)
They are popular throughout Europe, except in their homeland of Germany where they are mis-understood and criticised (as Jesus was!), although their shows recently sold out in four hours and their recent song and studio video, “Deutschland”, has had a gargantuan 67 million views, although some views are perhaps for the wrong reasons; it has caused controversy and crossed a line in Germany despite its irony in telling Germany's story and the current demise of a country that has lost its soul and is denying its character.
Whatever we think, Rammstein are challenging their own country, unswayed by outside influences and it is their birthright to do so.
Lyrics from Deutschland: “Germany, your love is both a curse and blessing, Germany, my love I cannot give you.”
I love their success without compromise, mostly singing in German which just proves the power of the music itself to stir the feelings. They are German to the core and unique for it unlike The Scorpions, a major success in the past, but being West German, were a sort of emulation of U.S. Rock.
Metal is a genre that has a stable and ever-renewing fan base, remaining constant since the 70's but it is an acquired taste like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, and Rammstein are different again with a unique approach which has popularised Metal by making it a powerful visual and sound experience, showing Germany has its own voice.
I just love the sound, although their latest album after 10 years seems to have lost something, maybe it was too long a gap?
They have just completed their only date in Britain on 6th July 2019 at the Milton Keynes National Bowl, the only controversy being the price of the tickets, but then the shows are expensive, pyrotechnics and health and safety don't come cheap.
As always, live performances can be the best and it is a shame that my favourite video of "Amerika", performed in Madison Square Gardens, USA, has disappeared from Youtube - maybe the President said something? Luckily there is another video that gives you the feel-good chords and sing along chorus which is not anti-American but illustrates how we have been seduced by the American junk culture.
The second track, “Links 234”, shows the sheer power of music and rhythmic sounds which emulate marching feet although the song is about the band members left wing political hearts. Maybe it is their East German humour coming out in that the totalitarian marching of the left is the same as the right? I sometimes I wonder if the drive for change to save the planet by the Greens and XR could use the power of music to rally the forces of good!
The Live Deutschland performance at Milton Keynes has an elevated DJ start and the UK crowd's chant even sounds Germanic...the camera man seems to have got the shakes..