As soon as an industrial rock band Rammstein emerging from Berlin, they acquired a reputation for being outrageous. They sang in German about graphic violence and explicit sex, and, most notably, they filled their shows with mind-blowing pyrotechnics. Vocalist Till Lindemann set himself on fire, blasts from twenty-foot flamethrowers accompanied raging guitar riffs and live explosives lined the stage like a minefield. But there is much more to Rammstein than meets their scorched skies. With influences such as Ministry, KMFDM, Depeche Mode and Speech opera, Rammstein presents an impressive array of styles and textures that both complement and belie the sensory overload of their live performances and videos. Below are 11 Rammstein songs that range from the most infectious to the caustic.
Listen to the best Rammstein songs on Spotify or Apple Music.
The band’s very first song, “Rammstein”, is about a 1988 air disaster at Rammstein Air Force Base, which inspired the band’s nickname. The title is taken from the 1995 album Herzeleid and starts with ambient electronics, half-speed helicopter sounds, and a weird keyboard line. Next, Rammstein rips through the main and climaxing beat that propels the rest of the number. While the song (and much of Rammstein’s early work) is heavily influenced by Psalm 69-era Ministry, Till Lindemann’s baritone, undistorted voice separates the band from their industrial ancestors. “Rammstein” was intriguing enough to catch the ear of David Lynch, who included the track and one of the band’s other songs in the soundtrack of lost highwaywhich earned them their first real exposure outside of Europe.
With leftist lyrics that reference Bertold Brecht’s “Einheitsfrontlied,” which was written for the German Communist Party, “Links 2-3-4” was an early response to reactionary criticism that Rammstein was neo-Nazi. Some people don’t recognize irony when they hear it. The boot march that opens the cut and the sounds of the roaring crowd that punctuate the beats are used to condemn Germany’s ugly past, not to embrace it. “Links 2-3-4” is taken from the band’s third album, whisperand like much of their early work, it’s regimental, heavy-handed lyrics, coloring anti-fascist lyrics with visual resentment and dramatic contempt that made watching them a blast.
Having established himself as a formidable leader in the Neue Deutsche Harte (New German Hardness), Rammstein spreads his fiery wings with the title track of whisper. The song opens with childish noises, a delicate guitar arpeggio and melodic clean vocals, which complement the heavy, medium-paced chorus. As if to underscore their disinterest in being labeled industrial metal, guitarist Richard Kruspe plays a lighter melodic line reminiscent of Metallica’s “The Unforgiven.” In true Rammstein style, the lyrics are about a child born outside the womb who plots to kill his mother and then himself.
The title track from Rammstein’s 2005 album Rosenrot downplays explosive rage in favor of simmering angst. The band brings home their poignant tone with a repetitive three-note bass line and melodic baritone vocals. As the track builds, an undercurrent of blippy sound effects, vocal harmonies, and mournful strings enter the mix. At the end of the track, the band goes wild with a 10-second abrasive metal riff followed by an equally short orchestral keyboard outro. The duality of the song is reiterated in the lyrics, which were inspired by the Brothers Grimm Schneeweißchen und Rosenrot (Snow White and Rose Red), in which a bear kills an evil dwarf, turns into a prince, and then marries Snow White, who had nursed him and befriended him. One less dwarf, six remain.
If it wasn’t Rammstein’s purpose“Amerika” was at least one euphoric hit single recorded in 2003 during Rammstein’s most prolific period (the one that produced the fourth album, Reise, Reise and a large part of the material for its follow-up Rosenrot). Like their more musically complex 2019 release, “Deutschland,” “Amerika” is a bittersweet homage to a nation about which Rammstein is highly ambivalent. While they seem to love the people and the culture, they criticize rampant capitalism and America’s arrogance. With lyrics largely in English, “Amerika” sounds triumphant. Still, it’s a bittersweet euphoria. Lindemann cheerfully sings Coca-Cola, Mickey Mouse and the Wonderbra, but he also touches on America’s history with the war and expresses his alienation by singing in English: “This is not a love song/I don’t sing my mother tongue”. Unlike many European bands who write lyrics in English, Rammstein won’t sacrifice their integrity by addressing the masses.
There’s a reason the members of Rammstein stand in front of the curtain at the end of every show without instruments and bow like a Broadway cast. These guys love live theater and incorporate themes from the art form. “Haifisch”, a highlight of Rammstein’s sixth album Liebe ist für alle da (2009) begins with dramatic horns and references Bertold Brecht threepenny opera in the chorus. The song builds with an evocative, slinky beat of piano and synth and a chaotic beat that conjures up images of the progressive art and culture that flourished during the Weimar Republic.
My heart is burning
The opening track from Rammstein’s third album whisper begins with aching strings and half-spoken undertones. The tension mounts as drums and keyboards join cellos and violins. Then the song abruptly fires up with heavy, distorted guitars and plunging synth lines that sound like a cross between Wagner and Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” The entire track is grand, exhilarating and wonderfully eerie, with lyrics about childhood nightmares that make Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” sound like a soothing lullaby.
The most memorable facet of Sehnsucht“Engel” is the Western-style cinematic whistle that kicks off the song and repeats throughout. While crisp, muted metallic guitars make it one of Rammstein’s heaviest tracks, “Engel” also features delicate female vocals gurgling New Order-ish keyboards, an undercurrent of sound effects, a plunging keyboard solo and that crazy hiss that gets more elaborate towards the song’s conclusion. Lyrically, Lindemann poetically describes angels and then declares, “God knows I don’t want to be an angel!”
Beginning with an edgy, triplet-filled keyboard line that’s soon matched with an electric guitar reminiscent of Iron Maiden, “Deutschland” deftly combines instantly recognizable elements of industrial and metal dance music to create an epic, cinematic song. Lyrically, however, “Deutschland” isn’t quite as euphoric, graphically expressing reservations about the band’s homeland. The band released a beautifully shot, yet explicit and horrifying video for the song that underscores its lyrics about totalitarianism and violence. Musically, Rammstein weaves emotive elements throughout the song, including echoing vocal hooks, female Middle Eastern vocals, a slightly off-kilter piano line reminiscent of the end of Faith No More’s “Epic,” and a shuffle of crunch and sustained guitars that make the song rise and fall like a tide against a bloody shore. The opener to their untitled seventh album, released in 2019, “Deutschland” features Rammstein with a firm grip on their past, a keen eye toward the future, and an understanding of all the styles that set them apart.
David Lynch certainly helped Rammstein reach American shores with the lost highway soundtrack, but it was the propellant, “Du Hast”, from the band’s second album, Sehnsucht that captivated Western audiences. Starting innocently enough with techno touches and electronic mosquitoes, the song bursts into a chuggy martial metal riff worthy of the best KMFDMs crossed with (of course) Ministry. Lindemann’s melodic chorus added a pop element and a playful keyboard line injected levity, but even a synthesizer solo that sounds like a video game interlude couldn’t stop the mosh pit from churning. Dark and energizing, “Du Hast” was proof that European music could cross over to the United States even if the lyrics weren’t in English and it opened the rusty steel doors for Rammstein to begin his quest for world domination at its terms.
Perhaps the most twisted song Rammstein has released (which is saying a lot), “Mein Teil” tells the true story of a man who placed an ad online to be eaten, and Armin Meiwes, the protagonist. who accepted the victim’s offer. . The song begins with gothic touches, the sound of sharp knives and a static-filled German voice that translates to: “Looking for a well-built 18-30 year old to shoot.” – The master butcher. From there, choral vocals accompany a caustic riff, and as intimidating vocals behind a sound effect that sounds like a galactic void sucking victims into deep space. “Mein Teil” is tough and martial, but it builds on a catchy riff and a catchy chorus that almost eclipses the original lyrics (but not the English translation: “Là, c’est ma part / Non! that you eat and you know what it is.” Infernal screams accompany the ending melody adding to the cognitive dissonance.
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