Rammstein, ‘Made in Germany 1995-2011′ – Album Review
From the moment industrial metal act Rammstein emerged from Eastern Germany in 1995, they were on fire – literally -- with frontman/stuntman Till Lindemann wearing flame-retardent outfits, doused in lighter fluid and set ablaze.
Since then, Rammstein have ramped up their act tenfold and their jawdropping, pyro-filled live shows have become as much a part of their identity as their gothy, distortion-saturated melodic electro-metal. Yet, as their newly released first compilation ‘Made in Germany 1995 - 2011’ proves, the band's songs continue to stand on their own, captivating listeners with Teutonic precision, fist-pumping aggression and dance-inducing beats, conveying messages of power and individuality even without English lyrics.
When they were first presented to North America in 1997 on their second album ‘Sehnsucht,’ Rammstein re-recorded the single ‘Du Hast’ in English as ‘You Hate,’ yet it was the German version that saturated the airwaves and made the album the first all-German platinum record in North America.
The career retrospective ‘Made in Germany 1995-2011’ is available in a variety of formats, some of which include a remix disc and DVDs. strangely, the release skips over the band’s 1995 debut ‘Herzeleid’ and begins with the synth-pop metal crunch of the 'Sehnsucht' track ‘Engel,’ which features an Ennio Morricone-esque spaghetti western keyboard line, whizzing samples and female vocals that merge with insistent beats and militant riffs.
The controversial flirtations with militarism continue on ‘Links 2 3 4,’ which opens with the sound of marching soldiers and features guitars redolent of Ministry’s ‘Just One Fix.’ The explicit 'German-isms' got the band tagged as fascists by some. However, they're actually left-wingers who prefer partying to politics and mock fascism like fellow Krauts KFMDM and other industrial rockers, including Ministry and Marilyn Manson. But while many of the former bands strive to frighten and subvert, creating music for outcasts, Rammstein invite the masses to the subversive spectacle, imbuing their swarming songs with chant-along choruses and simple melodic hooks that latch on and don't stop tugging.
‘Made in Germany’ traces the band's development from a flame-spewing ministry to a more refined, theatrical beast. Coincidence or not, as they staged more epic concerts and incorporated more elements of classical, opera and pop, their popularity grew exponentially. Ironically, even at their most commercial, Rammstein’s lyrics remained confrontational, including themes of sado-masochism, raunchy sex and cannibalism; the 2004 single ‘Mein Teil’ from the album ‘Reise, Reise’ was written about the bizarre case of Armin Meiwes, the 2001 Internet cannibal who posted an ad for a partner to be killed, cooked and consumed.
Other lyrics are equally provocative, but less cerebral, especially the part-English, part-German ‘P--sy’ (‘You’ve got a p--sy / I have a d--k / So what’s the problem / Let’s do it quick’). That dryly humorous cut from the band’s most recent disc, 2009’s ’Liebe ist für alle da,’ as well as 2005’s ‘Rosenrot’ rely predominantly on brooding basslines, serpentine keyboards and pop vocals, reserving the distorted guitars for refrains and midsections.
The only new song on the collection, ‘Mein Land,’ starts as low-fi synth-pop reminiscent of Die Krupps before erupting into a volcanic flurry of guitars and theatrical vocals. If it’s a sign of where Rammstein are headed, it’s not terribly far from where they’ve been for at least seven years, which is just fine as long as they keep frontloading their concerts with enough pyro to level small cities. If you haven't seen the amazing video for 'Mein Land' yet, you can watch it here.
The double-disc digipak of 'Made in Germany' features 16 remixes by rock, metal, electronic and pop acts, some of whom reinterpret Rammstein's songs so radically they're hardly recognizable. Faith No More morph the chunky, majestic ‘Du Riechst So Gut’ into a sweeping number devoid of guitar and fueled by orchestral strings. Jacob Hellner’s ‘Du Hast’ replaces industrial fury with electronic beats, gurgling synth and dissonant samples reminiscent of a slowed down Prodigy.
The actual metal acts who remixed songs approached them in radically different ways. Tiamat covers Rammstein’s cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Stripped,’ shaving the flesh from the song, reinventing it as a bleak, minimalistic soundscape. And while Meshuggah contort the ‘Rosenrot’ single 'Benzin' into a lunging tangle of downtuned guitars and arrhythmic beats, Devin Townsend turns ‘Rammleid’ into a campy carnival number sprinkled with a flailing guitar solo, sped-up voices, banjo and yodeling. It would surely be interesting to hear those as the soundtrack to Rammtein's post-apocalyptic stage show.
For those fans who want the complete Rammstein experience, 'Made in Germany 1995-2011' is also available in a limited edition Super Deluxe Edition that contains 2 CDs (Best of Album and Best of Remixes), as well as 3 DVDs (including the full Rammstein video catalog, all previously available "Making of" and 8 unreleased "Making of" videos) packaged in a steel box complete with a 240-page booklet. This edition is limited to 1,200 copies in the United States, but we're giving one away right here at Loudwire. Enter below for your chance to win. 'Made in Germany 1995 - 2011' is available in various formats at Amazon.com.