Rammstein are metal’s most unlikely success. Born from a recently reunified Germany in 1994, the Berlin six-piece went from crafting electro-tinged metal to stadium-shagging anthems, bolstering their reputation as heavy music’s most explosive, provocative and visually striking export. The jackets that set ablaze, the exploding babies, the hulking cum-cannons, the fire-breaking kink masks, the keyboard player being cooked in a pot by a vocalist wielding an actual flamethrower - it’s all ludicrous but it’s backed up by some of the the most muscular, undeniably catchy riffs since Tony Iommi chopped half his finger off.
And it’s their third album, Mutter, which consolidated this notion - you just couldn’t write them off as a novelty anymore. Released on April 2, 2001, the eleven-song opus is routinely cited as Rammstein's masterwork and a landmark in not just industrial metal, but metal in general.
Here are twenty pieces of trivial detritus surrounding the record that might just make you go, ‘Mein Gott!’
1. Rammstein nearly broke up during the album’s creation, down to guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe’s attempts to upend the band’s famously democratic writing process. Drummer Christoph Schneider said, “Richard tried to lead the band, and that reached the point where we couldn’t stand it anymore. He was trying to control everything, he didn’t want to have anybody change anything that came from his word, and that was a tricky time.”
2. Vocalist Till Lindemann and keyboard player Flake Lorenz met the legendary producer Peter Tägtgren while recording Mutter. According to Till, Flake “was drunk and was starting trouble, antagonising the big boys” at a Swedish biker bar, and had ripped all the felt off the pub’s pool table. Things were about to get a bit hairy, but Peter stepped in and defused the situation. Till would go on to work with Peter later down the line, for their project in the mid to late 2010s, simply called Lindemann.
3. Argos, the dog who played Hitler’s hound in the much-memed movie Downfall, actually accompanied Rammstein while writing for Mutter. He belonged to the chef employed by the band, and was by all accounts a good boy.
4. Mutter is the first Rammstein record to omit mixing engineer Ronald Prent: a man whose contributions to the band’s early sound have been described as essential. Album number three saw the band move away from the electro-heavy, dance-infused mix of yore and step towards a more organic sound.
5. Dave Ogilvie of Skinny Puppy fame was initially touted as a candidate to mix the record, given his work with Nine Inch Nails for The Perfect Drug in 1997. Recording icon Andy Wallace was also floated as a candidate, but neither were available at the time.
6. This was the first time Rammstein had worked with an orchestra. Prior to Mutter, anything you’d heard resembling a string part had been synthesised by Flake. This time round, they employed the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg to lend some dramatic tones to Mein Herz Brennt, Mutter and Nebel.
7. Mutter’s album cover is a dead foetus. The band found the image’s photographers, Geo and Daniel Fuchs, in an issue of Germany’s Max magazine, and were originally drawn to their snaps of three preserved polar bear embryos.
8. Mutter’s promo photos, which showed the band ‘preserved’ in fluid, required each member to be submerged in water, hooked by their feet to a weight at the bottom of a Plexiglas tank, and tethered with a lead belt. According to Flake, the tank started to stink as the shoot went on, by account of the band farting in the water.
9. Los and Ohne Dich, which both feature on Rammstein’s fourth record, Reise, Reise, were born during the Mutter period. The former was held back as it was originally played in a ‘rock’ format the band weren’t happy with, whereas the latter was omitted because they didn’t want to include another ballad.
10. Nine of Mutter’s 11 songs were premiered on 16th April 2000, almost a year before release. This was a fan club-only show at the 1,000 capacity Knaack venue in Berlin, which also featured outings for the early version of Ohne Dich and bleepy-bloopy instrumental B-side, 5/4.
11. Mutter’s lead single and setlist staple, Sonne, was originally written as an entrance theme for Ukranian boxer Vitali Klitschko - it even had working titles including Klitschko and Der Boxer. However, Vitali passed on using the track, as he felt it was too dramatic. He’s now a politician, and to our knowledge, hasn’t started any rallies with the Sonne countdown.
12. Ich Will’s video includes the band staging a bank robbery, and culminates in Flake blowing up. It was released on September 10th, 2001. Naturally, it didn’t receive an awful lot of coverage at the time, given what happened the next day.
13. This period also marked the beginning of a strained relationship between Rammstein and the USA. Richard was actually in New York when the planes hit the Twin Towers, and the band went on tour across the States later that month, supporting Slipknot and System Of A Down. Flake’s anxieties around the 9/11 terror attacks caused him to pack his bags and leave with several dates remaining, the rest of the band following soon after. They wouldn’t return for nine years.
14. Ich Will’s B-side, Halleluja, ended up on the soundtrack for Resident Evil in 2002. Halleluja also features those creepy Symphony Of Voices samples you hear on Sonne.
15. Mutter’s first six tracks were all singles, even though opening number Mein Herz Brennt didn’t receive that treatment until 2012, when it was re-released alongside a piano-led version.
16. Rammstein’s balls-out anthem Mann Gegen Mann, which eventually found a home on fifth record Rosenrot, was also conceived during the Mutter era.
17. Mutter’s heartbreaking coda, Nebel, has only been played live 20 times - all taking place during their Summer 2001 tour. In fact, of the album’s post-title track songs, just Rein Raus has been played again after the Mutter tour. And even then, it’s only shown up in the setlist twice since 2005. Boo.
18. Despite only reaching #86 in the Official UK Albums Chart, Rammstein headlined London’s 15,000 capacity Docklands Arena in 2002. Turns out even if people didn’t want to hear songs about drug overdoses, mummy issues, sex and death, they were fine watching it played out with oodles of pyro and jizzing robo-knobs.
19. During the Mutter tour, the band were excreted from a giant floating uterus hovering above the stage. They were wearing just nappies, and stumbled to their instruments in a postpartum haze. Sure.
20 . Mutter has been certified 2x Platinum in Germany, with sales in excess of 600,000 physical copies. That’s more than Looking For Freedom by David Hasselhoff, which has only been certified Platinum over there: equivalent to 500,000 copies. Perhaps he’d have sold a few more CDs if he’d done that gig above the Berlin Wall while shooting rockets from his cock.