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2023/4 Albums Thing 288 - Rammstein “Mutter”

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In 2002 we were living in the first house we’d bought, on the former biggest council housing estate in Europe. It was a reasonably quiet road where all the neighbourhood kids were safe playing out in the street. Our son James was 14 and hanging about with all the other kids in the street. My problem with all this was that all those kids had universally shite taste in music so James was getting exposed to all sorts of chart rubbish that no one will ever remember (Madison Avenue anyone ?). I wasn’t having this so, for Xmas that year, we bought him “Kerrang!⁴ The Album”, a compilation by Kerrang Radio of the biggest metal and “Punk” hits of the year, in the hope something would catch his ear. And oh boy did something catch his ear…”Ich Will” by Rammstein. 

James was learning German at school by this time and enjoying it so I guess finding this German band singing in German was just right for him. I’d also said to him, after dragging him to all sorts of gigs he sometimes didn’t want to be at (remember Buzzcocks Jim ?), that when he found a band and a gig he really wanted to go to then we’d go. Turned out that band was Rammstein, in Frankfurt in December 2004 (I did say anywhere).

And this is how I learned to love Rammstein. This music is so far removed from anything else in my world sometimes even I can’t figure how I like it. Great days bopping around Europe with my son is the main reason, but there’s something about the enormous sound this band make allied to me standing in huge venues in Frankfurt and Paris and Berlin and Munich barely understanding a word while this incredible show goes on around me.

“Mutter” (it means Mother) was Rammstein’s 3rd album and, I’m sure many might agree, it’s probably their best. A live Rammstein show without 5 of the 6 songs on side 1 (or on my 2 LP copy, sides 1 and 2) just wouldn’t feel right. “Mein Herz Brennt” (My Heart Burns) starts thing off relatively sedately until it explodes into a pummelling riff. The guitars you then hear during the verses are acoustic (weren’t expecting that were ya !) until that riff heaves in to the lyrics

Nun liebe Kinder gebt fein Acht, Ich bin die Stimme aus dem Kissen

Loosely “now pay attention children I am the voice from your pillow (or your dreams)”. Throw in some staccato, orchestral strings and it’s a dramatic start.

Next is “Links 2 3 4” (Left 2 3 4). It is based around a German Army marching cadence and is the bands response to accusations that they held right wing sympathies after making a video for their cover of Depeche Mode’s “Stripped” that included footage from the film “Olympia”, Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi propaganda film based around the 1936 Olympic games. Rammstein flatly deny any right-wing sympathies, describing any such accusations in interviews as nonsense and in the chorus of “Links…” Till Lindemann sings

Sie woll mein Herz am rechten Fleck doch, Seh ichdann nach unten weg, Da schlägt es links…links zwo drei vier…

Or in English “They want my heart on the right, But when I look down, It beats left…left 2,3,4”.

“Sonne” (Sun, it’s that simple) in a live setting is their big production number. You are generally treated to more pyro’s during this one song than most would manage in a whole show but for Rammstein this is just one of many during a gig (this video from the Munich show we attended last year will give you an idea https://youtu.be/cS_1rf3K0BI?si=IGd11Yh3dRzVcfo6). It was originally written as walk in music for the boxer Vitali Klitschko but he thought it was too “heavy”. The video is worth a look, based on the Brothers Grimm fairytale of Snow White And The Seven Dwarves (https://youtu.be/StZcUAPRRac?si=thCCCpSghXpcBLWc).

“Ich Will” is a song asking Rammstein’s audience to believe and trust them (more pushback against the right wing sympathies accusations perhaps ?). Til sings “Wir wollen dass ihr uns vertraut, Wir wollen dass ihr uns alles glaubt” (We want you to trust us, We want you to believe everything from us) and by the end almost pleading “Könnt ihr uns hören? Könnt ihr uns sehen?” (Can you hear us? Can you see us?)

“Feuer Frei!” hangs off another German military phrase, the title being the German equivalent of the English “fire at will” or “open fire”. This will have been a lot of people’s first sighting of Rammstein after they were seen performing it in the opening scenes of the (frankly bloody awful) 2002 movie “xXx” starring Vin Diesel.

Title track “Mutter” is a strange one. Firstly in Rammstein world this qualifies as a (power) ballad. Till Lindemann and guitarist Richard Kruspe have both said it’s about their fractured relationships with their own “mutters”, “Keine Sonne die mir scheint, keine Brust hat Milch geweint” (No sun shines for me, There was no breast that cried milk).

I’ve heard 5 out of six (sometimes all six) of those songs at every Rammstein gig I’ve been to. This isn’t music for the faint hearted. It’s a skillful , brutal amalgamation of Industrial Metal, Punk and electronic dance music. They had to invent a new genre for it, in Germany they call it “Tanz Metal” or dance metal. It’s loud, obnoxious, purposefully challenging and confrontational and (I think) has a superb sense of humour backing it all up, it always makes me smile anyway.

Mein Herz Brennt - https://youtu.be/WXv31OmnKqQ

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