Herzeleid

Rammstein

Eureka Records, 1996

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/25/2001

Like many other people in North America, I first heard of this band and their music due to the inclusion of two of their tracks on the Lost Highway soundtrack (1997), both of which were taken from Herzeleid, their debut album. At the time I was quite intrigued by their sound, which I would describe loosely as Wagner on crack!

The band's name translates into "ramming stone", which I must say is quite an apt description; they are about as subtle as an atomic bomb. Their signature sound is an inspiring combination of very crunchy, heavy, dark, metallic guitar riffs, interestingly layered electronic loops alongside surprisingly poppy, almost ill advised melodic keyboard passages and sound effects, straight forward pounding drumming, and a very low, almost robotic vocal delivery that come chorus time spews out wonderful melodies that seem to draw heavily from the dramatic Wagnerian German romantic classical period. It's a fascinating sound, although the formula does not change much from song to song.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The first track, "Wollt Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen" (Do You Want To See The Bed In Flames) starts with a simple, almost disco-like beat with the keyboard playing the main riff for several bars before the ultra heavy guitar sound takes over, playing the same melody. It sets the dark tone of the album immediately and never lets up...listening to Rammstein is somewhat like a relentless Panzer assualt rolling over your helpless head! You can't help but sit up and take notice.

The same pattern continues for the next three songs, "Der Meister" (The Master), "Weisses Fleisch" (White Meat), and "Asche Zu Asche" (Ashes To Ashes)...they all have the relentless brutal attack with interesting electronic keyboards and the robotic yet catchy vocals. Then we have "Seeman" (Sea Man), which is an unexpected change of pace! It's a soft ballad with a gorgeous melancholy, almost sentimental melody, but without sounding very commercial or sappy. Very nicely done, with an interesting finger picked melody courtesy of the bass player. It shows a dimension that you wouldn't think this sort of band could possibly have.

"Du Riechst So Gut" (You Smell So Good) is a mid tempo hard charging song which has a few more captivating melodies and parts to the song to make it more interesting than the standard ones...there's even a violin in there! Another noteworthy song is "Heirate Mich" (Marry Me), a very dark sounding gothic tune before it explodes into headbanging fury! It's one of their best songs, and was one of the two on the Lost Highway soundtrack...in part of the chorus there's even a repeat of "Hei", the first three letters of "Heirate" in what I think is an obvious attempt to play up their fascist image...these guys have fun!

After that, there are a few more solid, yet not really noteworthy songs, "Herzeleid" (Sorrow Of The Heart), and "Laichzeit" (Time of the Corpses). The last track was the other one on Lost Highway, simply called "Rammstein", and this is a very slow, plodding tune with a sludgy, heavy riff that recalls the best of Black Sabbath. Very dark, but a bit slow for my tastes.

As for the lyrics, they are all in German and deal mostly with twisted subject matter, but a surprising amount are rather sexually perverted...they are a rather amusing band!

Rating: B+

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© 2001 Roland Fratzl and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Eureka Records, and is used for informational purposes only.