No, you are not seeing things!! German Industrial Metal masters Rammstein have a new album out and only a touch shy of three years since 2019’s untitled album.
Rammstein – Zeit (Universal)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Robert Adams
Rammstein are quite simply in a league of their own. There is no better live band on the planet, and that’s a fact. They also have an instantly recognisable sound, and with Zeit, you know exactly who you’re listening to.
Zeit (Time) is, at once, the most melancholic and heaviest album the band have recorded. It’s also the Rammstein album that should never have been. Album cover photo was shot by Canadian rocker Bryan Adams on the steps of the Trudelturm in Berlin Adlershof, an imposing monument to aerial research in the city’s Aerodynamic Park.
The band’s first stadium world tour was cut short after the first European leg due to that pesky Covid-19 pandemic. Finding themselves back home with nothing but zeit on their hands, they started to write what would become the Zeit album.
“The sessions were spontaneous,” Keyboardist Christian ‘Flake’ Lorenz told MetalTalk, “and the lockdown caused the band to have more time to think of new things and less distraction.” Decamping to La Fabrique studios in Saint Remy-de-Provence, France, where they recorded their seventh untitled album, the recording began in September 2020 and was finished in February 2021.
Zeit sees all the usual Rammstein tropes present, correct and polished. The standout performance award throughout the album goes to vocalist Till Lindemann and keyboardist Christian ‘Flake’ Lorenz. Both put in outstanding performances, but that’s not to say the rest of the band are dragging their heels.
Opener Armee Der Tristen (Army Of The Drab) brings to mind a Depeche Mode mid-tempo ballad. Title track and first single Zeit is up next and is a beautiful slow-burning, drama-laden beast of a song. Rammstein certainly know how to build tension, and the accompanying video is nothing short of spectacular.
Schwarz (Black) is next and starts with a beautiful piano line from Flake before Lindemann’s trademark baritone joins in. Again, it’s a lesson in restraint and is all the better for it. Giftig (Poisonous) sees Rammstein finally put their foot on the gas with the album’s first proper pounding rocker.
Zick Zack (Zig Zag) sees the band add a touch of Euro disco cheese to a driving riff a-la Auslander. The lyric deals with cosmetic surgery obsession and also has an incredibly funny and disturbing video to accompany it.
Rammstein don’t make music videos, they make mini-movies, and the production values are always off the chart.
OK [Ohne Kondom] (Without A Condom) is a jolly rocker that brings to mind Links 2-3-4 and is all the better for it. That’s the problem when your band has a unique sound – any new material you produce will inevitably be compared to your previous work. Meine Tränen (My Tears) goes back to a more introspective vibe and, again, is just gorgeous.
Angst (Fear) starts off with a snapping snare before the trademark Rammstein chugging staccato riffs pummel the listener into submission.
Dicke Titten (Big Boobs) finds Rammstein with their tongue firmly in their collective cheeks. There aren’t many bands who could get away with an oompah band counteracting a heavyweight guitar riff with Till gleefully stating that all he wants is his woman to have big tits.
The opening of Lugen (Lies) will have UK fans of a certain age harking back to the opening credits of the ’70s kids programme Camberwick Green. The plucked harp and spoken lyrics soon explode into an explosion of huge guitar chords, pounding bass and driving drums. Again, Rammstein are playing with our emotions, bringing us down and then raising us back up in the blinking of an eye. Lindemann stretches his vocal range to almost breaking point near the end of the track.
Album closer Adieu (Farewell) has seen many people looking further into the lyric than personally, I think is necessary. They see it as the band bidding their fans farewell. To my ears, anyway, the lyric deals with our mortality, with Lindemann saying, “flesh perishes, spirit will rise, the being will surrender to death”.
While not the cheeriest of songs, it packs a major emotional punch and is perfectly placed as Zeit’s closing track.
The album that should never have been is, in fact, a cracker. Obviously, looking at life and mortality during the Covid-19 pandemic has heavily influenced the lyrics and tone of Zeit.
That’s not to say that Rammstein have lost their most un-German quality – a solid sense of irony and humour. The production of the album, courtesy of the band themselves with Olsen Involtini is nothing short of staggering. It’s lush and full and fully encompasses you in a cinematic audio experience.
Rammstein are well and truly back, and Zeit is an album that sits very near the top of their catalogue.