Made In Germany 1995-2011
How much Rammstein can one man take? There are well over two hours of material on this double-disc collection, and I have a hard time finding a bad cut even with my marginal high school German. Rammstein picks out a clear path between the metal longhair sound of The Scorpions and the dry, technical compositions of Kraftwerk. In a word, we are dealing with Krautrock here, and this Krautrock both threatens and compels.
In the background we have driving drums, intense keys, and guitars with barely controlled feedback. All this creates a solid rock aesthetic, and what takes the band to the forefront of the genre is lead singer Till Lindemann. His singing is more declaratory than musical, and his German the equivalent of accent-less Midwestern America. Songs are brutal and his lyrics tend toward real life events like cannibalism and airplane disasters, and he takes a not entirely pleasant view of love. “Du Hast” plays on the traditional German wedding vows and the linguistic closeness of “to hate” and “to have,” “Amerika” riffs on the European perceptions of the New World: “America ist wunderbar… Coca Cola wunderbar… Coca Cola, sometimes war.” Titles tend to one- or two-word phrases such as “Keine Lust,” “Haifisch,” “Sonne,” and it’s not that hard to decode what Lindemann is singing.
In addition to the 16 “Greatest Hits,” the two-disc Special Version includes 11 remixes by bands that for the most part have toured with Rammstein. Many of the remixes comes from musically similar groups like Laibach or Clawfinger, but The Pet Shop Boys tackle “Mein Tiel” and Scooter spices up “Pussy” with a beat heavy club sound. “Benzin” by Mesuggah and “Keine Lust” by Black Strobe head toward the metal side of the punk-o-meter, but all of these remixes are excellent — they retain Lindemann’s vocals and the essential elements of his bandmates, but push the songs in new directions while retaining the ominous subtext. I approached this collection with some trepidation, but now that I’ve been listening in my car and at work, Rammstein has risen high in my assessment of Euro-metal. If you’ve missed these guys you’re in for a treat, and if you’ve been cooler than me for the past 15 years, I accept your superior smugness.