You’d better believe it. Rammstein’s triumphantly bonkers leader has made a solo record, and he’s sung it in English. Whether you find Rammstein brilliant, horrific or just morbidly fascinating, Skills In Pills demands to be heard – in the name of cultural curiosity, if nothing else.
For all the penis props, flamethrowers and simulated buggery of their live shows, Rammstein have always retained some mystery. How exactly? By singing in a language many of their fans don’t understand. German-speakers aside, we’ve remained at least relatively ignorant of the precise contents of Till Lindemann’s mind. Which made the odd English-singing venture (e.g. Pussy) seem surprising, pantomime-like even.
So yes, a certain amount of mystique remained. Until now. Now, in filthy cahoots with Hypocrisy and Pain frontman Peter Tägtgren, Lindemann has cut his first solo album. Musically it’s not too far from the hard, industrial thrust of Rammstein, but the carefully spelt-out English almost gives the sense of a really X-rated musical. Any vestiges of subtlety are gone, though given that Lindemann once drilled a hole through his own face (to feed an LED into his mouth for Ich Tu Dir Weh), you assume subtlety won’t have suddenly shot up on his agenda now.
Easily offended? Move away – far, far away. Skills In Pills is gloriously offensive. We barely need to tell you that tracks like Ladyboy, Fat and Golden Shower are rampant, unapologetic and magnificently silly in their obscenity. By the time you get to Fat, you can practically see it coming: “Call me freaky/call me sick (FAT!)/I like it sticky, I like it big (FAT!)” or “People laughing/about your size/ we can fuck them/on your French Fries”… Oh dear god, how we laughed. How we’re still laughing. Forget PC; this is so far away from PC it’s scarcely worth qualifying it against any known PC standards.
At this juncture we could say ‘But get past all this lyrical lunacy, and…’. This seems kind of pointless; how the hell do you ‘get past’ a massive German bloke bellowing “your flabby butthole” in your face? You don’t. You do, however, appreciate the music as part of this lurid cirque du sleaze.
Children Of The Sun is a brilliantly chomping hybrid of hard industrial rock and haunting synths. Ladyboy is a great blend of Prodigy-tinted electronics and distorted grooves, once you take all the “wet flesh” and “dicks and holes” with handfuls of salt. “I like to furrrck” Lindemann purrs in Praise Abort – a sweet little number about hating your kids – and “I got forced/to stay away from female intercourse”. But surrounding all the rhyming and profanity, you have the crunchy, saturated riffage of Rammstein lovers’ dreams.
Macabre daftness? Genius? So crap it’s genius? Or just crap?? You’ll enjoy deciding.