It is unfortunate timing that Rammstein Week came directly after Al Jourgenson Week. There was a point in my life where I could listen to loud and aggressive music all day every day for weeks on end, but that time seems to have passed me. I distinctly remember times in my twenties where I would listen to nothing but Ministry, Static-X and Slipknot for a long period of time, only switching it up with equally loud and aggressive music. There was a point in time where most of my musical listening revolved around Combichrist, Hocico and Velvet Acid Christ almost exclusively for a while. I would throw in some Terrorfakt and Wumpscut occasionally, too. Now, it’s become more of a “I like when they come up now and then, and sometimes I’ll binge myself some Rammstein” kind of thing. I’m not the person I used to be. It’s very hard to be angry at the world all of the time. Sure, the world is far from perfect, and it seems to me to be going in the wrong direction more days than not, but I just can’t bring myself to be constantly mad. I have my health. I have a house and a car a job that I really enjoy. I have some of the greatest friends I could have ever hoped for. I have a beautiful wife who loves and tolerates me. How can I be pissed off all the time? But here I am, at the end of two weeks of very heavy music. All I know is that I’m tired, and need a break from it. Even with all of that, I still enjoyed listening to Rammstein all week.
I came to Rammstein the same way that most people on this side of the Atlantic did. I was listening to a lot of Nu-Metal, and they were touring on the Family Values tour with Korn. Because of that, Du Hast became pretty prominent on the local rock station that I listened to. I ended up buying Sehnsuct because of it, and quickly realized that Du Hast was not the best they had to offer. The title track was awesome, and for some reason I really gravitated to Küss Mich. Maybe it was the cartoon sound effects, but I thought it was amazing.
I didn’t pay much attention to Rammstein after that, though. I found out they had another album, but I only pursued the remixes done by bands I liked more at the time (mentioned in the earlier post about music piracy). However, when Mutter came out, I came back to Rammstein. I loved that album, and listened to it ad-nauseam for the next few weeks. Because I loved it so much, I decided to keep up with Rammstein a little more. I bought their earlier album, and then bought each successive album upon release.
I can’t say for sure what keeps me coming back. It certainly isn’t the lyrics. I still don’t understand German. I try to sing along, but I truly have no idea what they’re saying. I know more of what they’re saying in Te Quiero Puto due to a basic memory of high school Spanish and the slang I picked up from a Mexican exchange student from my freshman year. I pick up the English that they throw in there every now and again, of course, but for the most part I am clueless as to the meaning of these songs that I love.
So, like Rip Slyme before them, if it isn’t the words then it must be the music. But while Rip Slyme makes me unapologetically happy, Rammstein is closer to badass than happy. The music has the perfect mix of aggression and confidence, two things I seriously lack. It’s just as heavy as I want it to be. It’s epic without being over the top. It’s got heavy bass, both syths and guitar, solid drumming and driving lead guitars. It’s more metal than most of what has come out of America for a while, in my opinion. And it’s just the right niche of metal. I don’t know, something about it just hits me right. Heavy enough, with no “breakdowns” like in the Nu Metal that was churning out of the radio speakers around the time Rammstein hit our shores (my friend Josh said about Nu Metal that if you can’t rock for four minutes without having a breakdown period in the middle, then write shorter songs). From beginning to end of each song, Rammstein does not relent, and I respect them for it.
Rammstein is also one of the few bands that can get away with saying their own name in a song without it sounding corny. Hip-hop artists have been getting away with it for years, but it hasn’t worked as well when it comes to rock. KMFDM has achieved it. Rammstein has done it on a couple of occasions, going so far as to use it as the title of one of their songs on their first album. Porno for Pyros went for the full trifecta, by having both a song and an album with the same name as the band. I’m not a huge fan of Porno for Pyros, but good on them to pull it off, even if it only sounded like they were trying to explain the name of their band that they just thought sounded cool. Rammstein does it with some panache, though. You’ve got to respect their chutzpah for it.
Rammstein also has the distinction of putting on the best concert I have ever seen. I also touched on this in an earlier post, but it bears mentioning. There are some bands that are good live. They are able to move past the basics of the album and bring an extra dimension to the music. They either bring a new emotional level or strip it down to a basic rawness that reveals its true power. They engage the crowd. They have striking visuals that make it a full sensory experience. The Pixies pull this off. Stellastarr exposed every bit of emoition their music had. Primus incorporates great visuals and tends to just jam out in the middle of a lot of their songs. KMFDM and Ministry were adept at bringing the crowd in with them. Mindless Self Indulgence just feeds emotion into the room, creating some awesome mosh pits in the process (at least they used to, considering how their music has fallen off in my opinion, I’m not sure if they’re still capable of it). There are bands who are very lackluster live, too. I got nothing from an Angelspit show that I couldn’t have gotten by listening to the album while looking at pictures of them. John Mayer in his Room for Squares days really should have realized that, no matter the quality of his songs, he really needed to be more than just a guy with a guitar on stage, especially at a big amphitheater show. But there have only been two concerts that truly blew me away. The first was Emily Autumn, before her Fight Like a Girl album. It was like watching a burlesque circus sideshow set to really awesome music. That was my standard for many years, until I saw Rammstein on Long Island. For close to three hours, they owned that stage and they owned that crowd. The visuals were intense and amazing, the pyrotechnics were awe inspiring. And all of it was perfectly matched and timed with the heaviest music Rammstein could throw at us. I haven’t been to a show since, mostly for fear of disappointment when compared to Rammstein.
I’ve enjoyed Rammstein for a lot of years, and even though I’m nowhere near as angry as I was ten years ago, I’ll keep listening to whatever Rammstein has to offer me. I may be a little more docile than they are, and I may have no clue what they’re saying, but I do love to rock out, and Rammstein is always good for that.