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coverpic flag Germany - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 11 - 09/16/97

Motor Music

Rammstein's second album Sehnsucht went straight to number one in the German Media Control charts this month. Finally the massive promotion and media hype has paid off. So I had to do a review to reflect the current state of the German rock scene. Stylistically Rammstein's sound is a mixture of heavy metal riffs and modern electronic production methods. The band classify their music as "Tanzmetal" (dance metal), but it's basically a new version of the now very popular style known as "industrial" that bands like Ministry, Nine Inch Nails or (in Germany) Die Krupps already did in the past.

Rammstein adds a deep theatrical voice to the mix that sometimes reminds me of Laibach. Maybe it's the association with this dubious Slovenian band that triggers the suspicion of a fascist attitude that follows Rammstein from the beginning. However, listening to the lyrics I can't find any indication of fascist imagery. But they are by no means a "politically correct" band ! Their lyrics are a stiff mixture of fairy tale romanticism, fire mysticism, and every known sexual perversion that anyone can imagine, such as sadomasochism and incest, and always on a level that will be recognized and memorized easily. A play with taboos obviously, but one can't take it serious. Rammstein is meant to be a strange fun band.

The band's name was deliberately indiscreet taken from the city of Ramstein where during a flight show two jets collided and crashed into the masses. The name was sligtly altered to give the word a powerful double meaning of "rammen" (to ram) and "stein" (stone). Their name is significant for the band's use of words, carefully chosen double meanings with much shock value.

The music on their new album is much more varied than on their 1995 debut Herzeleid from which David Lynch chose two tracks for the soundtrack of his latest movie Lost Highway. The contrast of conflicting musical elements on this album focusses the power of the tracks even more. The track Sehnsucht has Arabic choirs, the hit single Engel adds melodic whistling and the sweet female angel vocals of Bobolina from the band Bobo In White Wooden Houses. Spiel Mit Mir is full of syntetic strings and orchestral samples. Klavier starts as a traditional folk song before its murderous content is revealed. Strange sampled sounds are everywhere, and the whole album has a groove.

The production is very dynamic and sharp, a necessary prerequisite for the strange band concept to come across well. So when you have a good portion of black humor or just like the powerful metal techno crossover, this band is a classic and has already started a new trend of hard rocking German acts (one from every record label). The CD comes with a neat multiple front cover, so don't be surprised when it doesn't look exactly the same every time around.

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