Monday, October 19, 2009

Rammstein - Leibe Ist Fur Alle Da

No doubt about it. This is it.

Anyone who, like myself, fell under that absolutely brutal spell that was the Gothic industrial masterpiece of Sehnsucht knows what I'm talking about. I first heard that album at a listening station at the now defunct Tower Records. It didn't take more than a minute of the opening title track and a few seconds of the following track "Engel" to know that I was hooked. Like a junkie in desperate need of a fix, Rammstein raced through my veins like an I.V. infusion. Sehnsucht was every thing I needed at that time in my life. Pulverizingly brutal, with some of the best riffs ever recorded on a industrial metal album ("Du Hast"), ramrodded through a punishing production that brought out the ultra-metallic sound of the guitars, married to Gothic overtones, snippets of operatic vocals, and the whole thing wed to a back beat and bass that could keep the strobe lights flashing on the dance floor. Throw in the guttural German vocals and lyrics that spoke to unknown disasters that I couldn't understand, and I was transfixed. White matter-meltingly brutal and grooving at the same time. Jesus. Line me up. Tie on the tourniquet, find a vein and inject me full. It was the album I'd been waiting for.

For about 2 years, that album became my signature war cry. Playing center defense on a competitive soccer team, hours before each game you knew where you could find me. In my beat up pick-up truck, terrorizing my speakers with Sehnsucht at full volume. My head whipping into a frenzy with the mania of the guitar crunch, my neck whipping like an uncoiled spring in time to the industrial drums. To play at my best, I needed to be mean; angry; pissed-off and ready to do battle. I pitied the poor fool who tried to rush the ball through the center of my field after my Rammstein pre-game ritual. Blood was spilled. Bones shattered. Red cards flew.

But let's be honest. As much as I ingested Sehnsucht, the follow-up albums have been a mixed bag. Not that Mutter, or Reise, Reise, or Rosenrot were bad albums, they were just . . . lacking. They didn't have that special X-factor that Sehnsucht had. The brutality married to the beat. The crushing blows to the midsection married to the loving kiss upon the lips. I bought em, I still own em, but I don't listen to em. When I want to hear Rammstein, I'd always go back to Sehnsucht.

Now, I have another album to play. Simply put, Leibe Ist Fur Alle Da, is the rightful heir apparent to Sehnsucht, another epic masterpiece of purely Teutonic, gutturally brutal, yet hauntingly beautiful industrial metal. No band has ever sounded like Rammstein, before or since, and with Leibe Ist Fur Alle Da, the band dig back down into their own souls and unleash the dark monster that makes the band tick. Combining all the grinding machinations of metal-snapping guitars that marked their earlier work with the expanded production and dynamic textures of the later albums, Rammstein have created a beast worthy of being caged with their own creation. An ugly, fucking brutal, beautiful album. A classic of haunting, grinding, distinctly German metal.

"Ram stein" literally means, "a battering ram made of stone," and that's when Rammstein is at it's best, ramming their Teutonic grind right down the listener's throat. And that's exactly what they do with the opener "Rammlied." Beginning with a classic-sounding Rammstein synthesizer, and German cabaret vocal intro, the razor guitars slice into the song like a bone saw tearing through a rib cage during an autopsy. And what a riff it is, after the initial terror of the guitars tearing into the flesh, the whole song drops down into a riff/groove of such perfection it could actually rival "Du Hast." Bass rumbles like some approaching panzer division under the ghostly female backing vocals, Till Lindemann's vocals sound even more disturbing, twisted, and demented than ever before. Synths swirl the song straight into dancefloor territory, but the rupture of the guitars never lets you forget that this is metal. Purely crushing, chew-you-up-and-spit-out-your-tendons metal. With it's stop-start riffing, gentle middle passages, full production, and undulating pulse, "Rammlied," is everything that every Rammstein fan has been begging to hear since Sehnsucht.

From there the album is one epic of thinly veiled Rammstein insanity. "Ich Tu Dir Weh," kicks off with a firing squad guitar/bass sputtering intro before heading into "Engel" territory with a roaring locomotive of a grinding guitar riff. Without ever losing its pacing and beat, this song roars down those metallic tracks, gaining speed with every broken guitar string and shattered cymbal. A song worthy of following "Rammlied," shit, this song is worthy of following Sehnsucht on it's own. A rousing, soaring chorus only further serves to elevate this one to the memorable.

As always, the entire album is sung in German, and yes, it's perfect that way. Absolutely perfect. The guttural nature of the language is an outstanding mesh with the intensity of the music. It actually make the music more brutal, more cryptic, more like that ramrod made of stone, powering the lyrics into your brain. What ever happens, I pray Rammstein never succumb to industry pressure and record in English. I saw a review where the reviewer stated " . . . showcases the very weakest links in the band. Whether it be the tonal qualities of the German language to foreigners, or just Lindemann's vocals as a whole, when it's not pantomimic, it's just plain disconcerting." To put it as mildly as I can, that person is an ethnocentric idiot. Put him in a corner with his English language Jonas Brothers CD's and his Mylie Cyrus, because he doesn't get it. He just doesn't get it. And true Rammstein fans don't want him to get it anyways.

"Waidmanns Heil," keeps the fire-spewing engine charging headlong down the tracks. This song has more power and urgency behind it's riff than I've heard in ages from my discarded stack of industrial CD's. Again, the production works perfectly here, reigning in the madness, containing the fury with snapshots of beautiful synths, dropped out guitar parts, and accapella verses, while doing nothing to restrain the out-and-out fury of the guitars.

Rammstein bring enough disparate elements to their industrial crunch, like the pure '80's synths of "Haifisch", the constant overlapping female Wagnerian vocals, brooding Gothic overtones, and flashes of nostalgic Brecht cabaret that it's really about time we started recognizing this music for what it is, German prog metal at it's finest. Anyone who tries to pigeonhole the band into the mind-dead genre of pure industrial metal is missing all the nuance, texture, and intelligence that makes Rammstein stand out. Just listen to the gorgeous acoustic pasage that rounds out "Haifisch," and how this blends immediately into the robotic, android synth of "B********" which goes on to be one of Rammstein's most demented, horrorshow, pulverizingly heavy songs in ages. Not many bands have this depth of range and dynamic. Fewer still could make the whole thing hang together this effortlessly, this satisfyingly. Even fewer bands can transport you to a world entirely of their creation that is so brutally terrifying, devastatingly heavy, and fantastically beautiful. And very few can get me to go on that ride willingly. Hungrily.

Rammstein is back with their best album in a decade. Jump on board. The train is leaving the station on some bizarre metallic journey through the fire-spewing hell of some altered German dimension. It's an ungodly, terrifying, all together brutal journey. And you don't want to miss it.


This album cover is for the 2-disc special edition with 6 bonus songs. Oh yes!

Buy here: Liebe Ist Für Alle Da (Dlx) (Dig)

Buy here: Liebe Ist Für Alle Da (standard version)


andrew donegan said...
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The Ripple Effect said...

Couldn't agree more, the female backing vocals add a unique, dynamic and necessary texture. Perhaps you missed it when I wrote " . . . Bass rumbles like some approaching panzer division under the ghostly female backing vocals." or "the constant overlapping female Wagnerian vocals, brooding Gothic overtones."

But that's ok, I can't understand my own writing either.

raysrealm said...

Awesome review, man. Killer stuff!

andrew donegan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
andrew donegan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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