Members: Till, Paul, Rich, Flake, Oliver & Christoph
RAMMSTEIN BIOG: ROSENROT
IN 1995 THERE was Herzeleid, the debut album that got the story started; then Sehnsucht (1997), Mutter (2001) and, most recently, Reise, Reise (2004), a typically widescreen outing supported by large-scale shows in Europe and the Far East.
In between this succession of releases, theres been a live album (Live Aus Berlin) and a couple of truly breathtaking DVDs (Live Aus Berlin & Lichtspielhaus), but generally speaking Rammstein the East German outfit with 10 million album sales to their name plus a host of Gold & Platinum awards have chosen to leave a gap of several years between studio-based projects. Its The Rammstein Way. A ten-year tradition that has been chipped into the toughest of stone, and will surely never be broken.
On October 28th 2005, Germany's most famous (and sometimes infamous) rock export will be parting the veil on Studio Album No. 5; its called Rosenrot (Rose-Red), its been overseen by Swedish producer Jacob Hellner, a regular name on Rammstein releases, and its likely that as with all of their studio outings the 11-track barrier will not be broken... unusually, however, its entering the public domain just a year or so after Reise, Reise, while the confetti from the onstage cannons is still fluttering in the air, something that is bound to raise the eyebrows (and of course the excitement levels) of hard rock fans worldwide.
So is this the end of an era? Have the Berlin-based sextet reduced their own rulebook to so many shreds? Not exactly.
WHILST ALL of the numbers on Rosenrot will be fresh to the ear, some of them were recorded, at least in part, at El Cortijo Studio in Malaga, Spain during the sessions for Reise, Reise sessions that threw up an abundance of quality material, far too much to sit comfortably on a single release; a nice problem certainly, but one not easily resolved
They didn't want to go for a double album, the general feeling being that too much of a good thing can be equally as bad as too little; it was therefore just a question of putting the remaining (sometimes unfinished) recordings into temporary cryogenic storage, ready for the moment when the thawing process could be set into motion and if anyone has the means to do that, its Rammstein!
Indeed, the band were keen to fire up and complete the remaining tracks as quickly as touring commitments would allow (including a brief trip to Tokyo in June 05), the idea being to a) Let the fans hear the music whilst it was still good an juicy on the vine, and b) Make it clear that the Reise, Reise tracks and those lined up for Ros-enrot were essentially drawn from the same session the exception to this being the handful of new songs required to make the latter into a full-length outing. For this batch of recording (undertaken with Hellner & mixer Stefan Glaumann, again a recurring name on the Rammstein cast list), the six chose to work close to home, at Teldex Studio in Berlin, something theyd never done before. Normally, a residential set-up would be sourced in a sunnier part of the world (Malta, France, Spain, those kind of places), a way of leaving behind all domestic distractions and focussing fully on the task at hand, but this time around a new plan was forged and a tighter-than-usual studio schedule drawn up
What should be made clear here an now and for the record is that the material that couldnt be included on Reise, Reise was not left off for reasons of quality or creativity. There is no way that Rosenrot is a B-side or bonus track release; Spring (Jump), Mann Gegen Mann (Man Against Man), Zerstoren (Destroy), Hilf Mir (Help Me), Feuer & Wasser (Fire & Water), not forgetting of course the title track, a song deeply rooted in German prose, this is very much A-list material, spearheaded by first single/video Benzin (Gasoline). As you might expect from the name, this is classic Rammstein fare both musically & lyrically, addressing itself to a subject that the band know better than anyone; lets face it, when it comes to setting things (inanimate & otherwise) on fire, these guys are the pyro masters
I need money for gasoline,
Explosive like kerosene,
With lots of octane & free of lead,
A kind of fuel like (Benzin)
Get the picture?!
FOR THE Benzin video, Rammstein were collectively keen to avoid the obvious; they wanted something altogether more inventive, something to give a fresh twist to their longstanding celebration of die nackte flamme. Enter video director Uwe Flade, a man whose previous credits include Depeche Mode, Apocalyptica, Franz Ferdinand and many more besides; Flades proposal for the clip grabbed the bands attention right from the start, its heavy use of green screen technology and detailed post-production making it possible for the six to further create a parallel world of their own; the animated Links clip (2001) had also been the result of some serious time on the computer, but the guys were in that footage only fleetingly, whereas this time around they are central to proceedings, driving the action (and one hell of a big fire engine, too!).
Certainly, it's a great platform for a track that will instantly connect with Rammstein fans the world over fans who are used to a healthy supply of remixes from interesting, sometimes unexpected names. Last time, there was The Pet Shop Boys (Mein Teil), Alec Empire (Amerika) & Laibach (Ohne Dich), to name just a few; and now we have the Beastie Boys, Swedish math-metallers Meshuggah plus the aforementioned Apocalyptica, the heavy metal lovin cellists who have toured with Rammstein, covered one of their songs (Seemann feat. Nina Hagen, 2003) & even joined them onstage for stirring run-throughs of Ohne Dich & Mein Herz Brennt. All in all, a marriage made in classical rock heaven!
BACK AROUND the time of the Mutter album, its no great secret that the bond between the various Rammstein members was not as tight as it might have been. The group, it seems, had become locked into a particular regime a rigid way of working that was causing a build-up of tension and generally wiping the smile off of everyones face. With Reise, Reise, however, the approach was altogether more relaxed, with greater room for new ideas (such as the acoustic Los) and a greater focus on the fun side of things, and Rosenrot not only preserves this modus operandi, it takes it further still; put simply, its a 50-minute showcase for some of the most accessible tracks recorded by the troupe as well as some of the heaviest, with the aforementioned Zerstoren & Mann Gegen Mann being very much a part of the latter category.
The basic musical idea for Mann Gegen Mann had actually been kicking around the vaults of Castle Rammstein for a number of years, but its only now that its been brought to full fruition, complete with chest-beating chorus and carefully crafted wordplay, both carried off with signature aplomb; and as for Zerstoren, well, not only does it move swiftly through the gears, all playful melody, chainsaw guitars & car crash ending, but it addresses itself (with just a small amount of disguise) to some of the more burning political issues of the moment, working as with many Rammstein compositions on a number of different levels.
Spring too is cast in the weightier mould altogether darker than its title might suggest and a probable future highlight of the live set; believe me, when Till gives the order to spring you will be six feet in the air! And then theres Ein Lied (A Song) & Stirb Nicht Vor Mir (Dont Die Before I Do), a duet between Till & Texas singer Charlene Spiteri, tracks that for a while at least show Rammstein in a warmer glow. Wo Bist Du?, on the other hand, could as easily be sung from the prow of a Viking longboat as the centre of a stage the sort of controlled assault on the senses that the Berliners have refined to a virtual art, all tightly-reined rhythm, other-worldly keyboards & sweeping chorus. Rammstein, its clear, dont have to work at being epic, its naturally there in whatever they do even on a track as fundamentally different as Te Quiero, Puta (I Love You, Bitch), which must surely be the first mariachi metal track to exist outside of a Quentin Tarrantino fantasy jukebox!
Till, a great lover of all things South American, takes easily to the Spanish tongue for this one, and rumour has it that the occasional shot of tequila might have been used just to loosen the larynx and add to the atmosphere. Its a welcome surprise on an album that not only confirms Rammsteins well-honed sense of fun, but sees the band testing their skills in a number of different areas... Stirb Nicht, for example, has Till & Charlene establishing a potent Anglo/German entente on a truly emotive ballad, while at the other end of the scale Mann Gegen Mann turns its attention to prejudice & perception. With the band not being overtly political in their approach, Till was keen for his lyrics to strike just the right tone, so he tested them on certain friends whose opinions he felt relevant; only then did he decide that, yes, the words & music were good to go.
All in all, a sensitive subject skilfully handled so much so that the song along with Rosenrot has now been confirmed as a future single, supported by a video that promises to line up on the darker side of both Benzin & Keine Lust (the latter, incidentally, a larger than life outing in every sense of the word, has recently been nominated for an MTV European Music Award).
IN A WAY, these disparate tracks neatly sum up the lyrical & musical span of a record that adds at least another couple of layers to a cake that some may feel they already have the taste of. According to the group themselves, its an outing that hovers somewhere between a sequel and a new album, Reise, Reise 2 and a different journey altogether, and to add to the excitement of the moment the final touches are now being put to a live DVD recorded at a host of sold-out venues on the Reise, Reise tour; these include the Arenes de Nimes in France, Club Citta
in Japan & the Brixton Academy in the UK. A late 05 release is likely.
Whatever the size & shape of the aforementioned cake, however, one things for certain theres bound to be an awful lot of candles on top!