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2023/4 Albums Thing 289 - Rammstein “Zeit”

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Rammstein’s most recent album released in 2022. One I’ve taken quite a liking to. It was heavily featured at the two most recent shows we’ve seen in Berlin and Munich, songs from it bookending the show. 

Opener “Armee Der Tristen” is a brooding, mid paced call to arms for the sad and rejected. It’s a lesson in the sort of German wordplay that Rammstein excel in where the more normal German phrase “im Trit marschieren” (march in step) becomes “im Trist marschieren” (march in sadness) by the addition of just one letter. Another of their more famous songs “Du Hast” loses an s from the phrase “du hasst” which sounds the same when spoken (or sung) but the song title means “you have” whereas “du hasst” translates as “you hate”. Be careful.

At the close of side 2 (and their recent shows) is “Adieu” a stately, measured closer for the album. Easy right, it means goodbye and it’s the last track. But Rammstein are never that linear. The lyric “Jeder stirbt für sich allein” translates as “everyone (man) dies alone”. It is also happens to be the title of a 1947 novel (based on a true story) by Hans Fallada about a husband and wife who join the anti-Nazi resistance during World War II, another knock back at those accusations of right wing sympathies.

In between we get the usual silly Rammstein songs (I told you there was a sense of humour at work here) in “Dicke Titten” (it means big boobs !) and “Zick Zack” (it kinda translates as snip-snip) which is a grotesque celebration of cosmetic surgery; title track “Zeit” (Time) is a slow and gentle, almost operatic song about wasting time, straining to make the most of your time, with the chorus “Zeit, Bitte bleib stehen, bleib stehen, Zeit, das soll immer so weitergehen” or, for you non German speakers “Time, please stop, stop, Time, it should always go on like this”. You can’t stop it so don’t waste it.

The final track I’ll mention here is the song “Angst” (Fear) which bought home to me how easily some of Rammstein’s wordplay and literal translations of languages we don’t really know can get everyone in a twist. “Angst” is a classic bit of brutal Tanz Metal and when Till Lindemann gets to the chorus he operatically delivers the line “Alle haben Angst vorm schwarzen Mann”. Someone in the shop while I was playing it once commented “did he just sing “he’s afraid of black men” ? It’s a bit racist isn’t it ?”. And yes if you translate the German lyric literally to English it is “Everyone is afraid of thе Black Man” BUT, in Germany there is an old children’s game known as “wer hat Angst vorm schwarzen Mann” (Who is afraid of the black man, it plays on folklore and plague history) where the “schwarzen Mann” in question is a mythical figure used to scare children (“Kinderschreck” or child frightener) represented as a man in black clothes or a shadow creature, what we know as the Bogey Man. There’s also a track titled “Schwarz” (Black) on the album, yes they do it on purpose but beware the dangers of a little knowledge huh ?

I think “Zeit” is Rammstein’s most consistent album since “Mutter”, I guess that’s confirmed by the fact they are the only two I own. They’re not an easy listen but for me it’s been an education listening to them.

Armee Der Tristen - https://youtu.be/t-NUBR2kufw?si=6Yfa2ckQqEzmlnaK

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