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Rammstein
Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da John Robb , October 23rd, 2009 13:49

Like a noisy, spunking, clanking behemoth waving its metallic cock at the world, Rammstein have been striding the music scene for more than a decade readying their huge mother lode before spraying it into the faces of the mass audience that they have claimed without anyone's permission.

Their revolting sense of humour and grinding industrial slabs of raw power have seen them fill stadiums while being roundly ignored by the mainstream media who seem to be content to explain away music on their own indie-centric terms.

Rammstein have clocked up millions of album sales and easily sell out stadiums worldwide with their darkly humorous, anthemic songs, nearly all of which are sung in German. They've long toyed with what's perceived as dangerous imagery, leading to the simplistic accusation that they're Nazis, or — and this is a far more serious accusation to the anonymous creeps who dwell on indie messageboards — that they're Goths.

Not that Rammstein care. With a Teutonic smirk they have created a catalogue of releases that are pure art — they may be funny and leering with an evil glint but everything they do is perfectly produced and beautifully packaged. Their stage shows are stunning. Full of black humour and fire, they resemble Grimm's fairy tales come to life as the band stomp their Teutonic jackboot, homoerotic, pansy division storm of techno, industrial and metal into thrillingly effective whole.

They have huge mountains of fire and pyrotechnics and employ a ten-foot dildo which is shoved up their put-upon keyboard player's skinny butt cheeks. The unfortunate organ operator is then thrown into a huge vat of boiling liquid — you don't get that kind of sense of theatrical at a Strokes concert, do you.

Rammstein can also back this up musically: their songs are massive, sprawling anthems of grunting and grinding nightmare power, rumbling dynamics and unexpected subtleties that leave most modern rock cowering in the corner with tepid fear.

Growing up in East Germany in the times of Commie misrule gave Rammstein a very different slant on the world. Influenced by the snippets of rock information that leaked through the Berlin Wall they constructed their own dark and bizarre world. Years later they are still in love with the wilful wind up, the arch prankster statement of intent and deliberate misconduct designed to set the hackles rising.

The long awaited new album, Liebe Ist Für Alle Da has few surprises — after all, they've already pretty well redesigned the fabric for this kind of music and all that's left now is to fine-tune the machine. There are the staple razor sharp twin guitar attack creates a surging, incessant riffola, especially on tracks like 'B''s H Bomb guitar assault. 'Waidmann's Heil' which starts with a weird hunting horn sound before some of the heaviest guitars you are likely to hear take full advantage of the crisp and no-holds-barred production.

The amazing drumming of Christoph "Doom" Schneider (pure power and technique) and the keyboards of Flake Lorenz (which often stray into techno and trance) give the band a massive extra dimension. It's this combination of the tougher end of dance and the bludgeon of guttural stomping metal that they are most effective at. Sometimes, as on Haifisch, they switch from their template to sound like Depeche Mode doing knees-up, and are even darker and weirder for it.

Till Lindemann's Vocals are the key point of the group. He is such a great singer, switching from bear growl to romantic croon and always armed with hilarious lyrics - check out the translations as Till sings of cannibalism and death with a knowing wink. He switches to French on the darkly romantic ballad 'Fruhling In Paris' and switches back to German for the other swooping ballad 'Rotr Sand' where they enter the same sort of stripped down soundscapes as the brilliant Einsturzende Neubaten. There is even a bit of English on the blatant sex doggerel of the album's lead off single 'Pussy', a song designed to create claims of misogyny and a honey pit of controversy for critics to slide into. This was even before the accompanying porn video, featuring xxx scenes of the various band members in congress and unshowable, was released onto the internet in a brilliant piece of viral marketing.

'Pussy''s chorus goes "You've got a pussy, I have a dick, So what's the problem, Let's do it quick" which has internet idiots complaining about its lack of poetic power without even getting the sucker punch. After all, shagging is a feral business and the best sex poetry is stripped away to the simplistic grunt.

That's Rammstein all over - playing games, messing with minds, creating facades with smoke and mirrors inviting you to think the worst and feel uncomfortable. It's a clever and dangerous game and can leave them wide open to attack, but confrontation is one of the keys to their aesthetic. They look at the darkness that lurks out there and twist into songs like 'Weiner Blu', where they sing about Josef Fritzl. They seem to take every cliché dumped upon Germany, exaggerate it, and throw it back into the faces of the lazy. It's a cool trick and quite hilarious.

Maybe the album isn't quite as great as the classic Mutter but it's pretty damn close and this is a band whose songs have a habit of creeping under your skin and into your life. It's still one of the best releases of the year - a clever, subversive dark and strangely amusing record of filthy raw power that I've been enjoying playing full blast through my atomised headphones a I crunch out heavy weights in the gym - and what higher compliment for a rock record can there be than that!

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