Aside from blowing everything up on stage and singing about sex a little too much, German juggernauts Rammstein happen to have made some of the most frightening, hilarious and artistically provocative music videos the world has ever seen from a major label band.
While there’s many brilliant Rammstein videos to choose from, we’ve narrowed it down to their best 10. A word of warning, though – they’re definitely not safe for work, all right?
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12. Ausländer (directed by Antonio Paladino, 2019)
There's a common thread you'll notice in almost all of the videos listed here: controversy. Rammstein are a band who like to subvert expectations in their visuals as well as their lyrics, and in Ausländer (translation 'foreigners') they give this sex party anthem a sociopolitical twist by taking the roles of arrogant, sexually-aggressive colonisers as a comment on empires and the dangers of imperialism. The band are pictured crossing the sea on a dinghy – something which has now become part of their live act, as they "row" their way over the crowds at the start of this song.
11. Mann gegen Mann (directed by Jonas Åkerlund, 2006)
In true Rammsteinian fashion, Mann gegen Mann is unafraid to expose literally everything. The song’s loose translation is ‘man against man’ and that’s exactly what happens; biceps bulge and oily, sweaty, sexy pieces of bloke squirm in a scrum as the band play – naked, may we add. The best part is that we get a brief glimpse of keyboard player Christian ‘Flake’ Lorenz’s penis at 0:31. Completely ridiculous yet completely necessary.
In summary, then: oily.
10. Ich Tu Dir Weh (directed by Jonas Åkerlund, 2009)
Translating into ‘I hurt you’, it makes sense that Ich Tu Dir Weh’s video involved vocalist Till Lindemann getting wires fucking drilled into his fucking cheeks so he could have a flashlight inside his gob. Apart from ripping through a thoroughly cracking song, Rammstein used this video to basically preview the Liebe ist für alle da stage show; you’ve got Till’s shining light, but Flake’s treadmill, the rising lighting rig and the wonderfully gimpy outfits all make appearances too.
9. Du Riechst So Gut ‘98 (directed by Philipp Stölzl, 1998)
A retrospective clip made three years after the original Du Riechst So Gut video, this one’s heavily inspired by the film The Company Of Wolves which, in turn, was inspired by the wonderfully warped mind of Angela Carter. The band members follow a woman into Castle Babelsberg and flit between wolf and man throughout, which, with 1998’s graphics, is very charming indeed. The tapped mid-section riff has a masquerade ball dancing in double time and, overall, everything looks a bit like Sleepy Hollow but more metal.
8. Ohne Dich (directed by Jörn Heitmann, 2004)
A Rammstein hiking trip would involve dildos, boobs and fireworks going off in a small tent, right? Wrong. Fireworks in a tent would be dangerous. Instead, Rammstein trek through the countryside like they’re in a Volvic advert before ascending a giant, snowy mountain – they were trained by actual mountaineers to provide realism here. Till falls down the mountain, Touching The Void style, but the Rammstein lads go and save him! He gets gangrene but fuck it – he’s Till Lindemann. The band climb to the summit, Till in their arms, flanked by gorgeous panoramic shots of Austria only bettered by The Lord Of The Rings’ view of New Zealand. At the top, Till is content. He surveys all before him, takes a last breath and dies. For a Rammstein video, this is weirdly uplifting.
7. Stripped (directed by Philipp Stölzl, 1998)
The band received much criticism for using clips of Leni Riefenstahl’s 1938 propaganda film Olympia in this video for their Depeche Mode cover. But, as the band explained, they admired the aesthetics of the athletes and were quick to disassociate themselves from the German filmmaker’s politics. As per with Rammstein, there are sections where people are, er, stripped. While doing throwing the javelin and discus.
6. Mein Land (directed by Jonas Åkerlund, 2011)
You want Hawaiian shirts? You got it. How about guitarist Paul Landers giving you a creepy, ‘70s TV presenter thumbs-up? Done. Till Lindemann sprinting down the beach, Baywatch style? Of course that’s here for you. Sun cream is applied, everything gets increasingly pervy and this tongue in cheek clip finishes in the dead of night, with the band literally firing on all cylinders with their live show. But on a beach.
5. Sonne (directed by Jörn Heitmann, 2001)
Some things will irreparably damage you for life. Seeing the Sonne video as a child is one of those things. Watching the band – as dwarves – dig for gold in a putrid mine, beg for a giant Snow White’s approval and, in turn, get spanked for it is a perfect example of how Rammstein can take a classic fairy-tale and twist it to suit their own sadomasochistic needs. Lovely.
4. Du Hast (directed by Philipp Stölzl, 1997)
The ultimate heist. The whole video is an iconic example of why Rammstein are great; the band walk away from explosions while looking impossibly cool and, backed by the undeniable tune that is Du Hast, you can see why this is the single that made a legitimate big deal of the band. But it’s that first-person segment, when you’re immersed in the action and Rammstein start hitting you. It’s like you’re in A Clockwork Orange or the bit where Project Mayhem threaten to cut that man’s cock off in Fight Club. Bold, bullish and 100% deserving of its success.
3. Mein Herz brennt (directed by Zoran Bihać, 2012)
Proof that Rammstein’s artistic vision hasn’t shrivelled one bit with age. An acoustic reworking of 2001’s track of the same name, Mein Herz brennt features a solitary Till in a red room, clad in a black dress, clown make-up smeared over his features and lacerations across his chest. He performs backed with only a piano, the track bubbling at the surface but never boiling; Till gives the performance of his entire career, holding the viewer’s attention for five minutes with subtle gestures and genuinely scary smiles and facial tics. Transfixing and deeply disturbing.
2. Deutschland (directed by Specter Berlin, 2019)
Much like with Stripped, Deutschland saw Rammstein having to explain themselves when footage of a replica concentration camp caused outrage among many who questioned the band's motives for including the intentionally shocking footage. Deutschland, the band countered, was a song that explored the band's feelings of guilt and shame about their homeland's history with a video that explored some of Germany's darker historical moments to match. The 10-minute Deutschland video was more like a short film than a music promo, and traversed Germany's historical landmarks in such detail we needed an explainer from an Oxford Professor about what it was all about.
1. Mein Teil (directed by Zoran Bihać, 2004)
It was always going to be Mein Teil. Documenting the ethically questionable escapades of Armin Meiwes and his chum Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes – they mutually agreed to chop off and cook Brandes’ penis before Meiwes killed him – this is a chilling document, especially with the sound of knives being sharpened at the start that’ll make your legs cross instantly. Loads of weird shit happens; Till gets a blowjob from an angel and eats her wings, but the most memorable set piece comes at the end, when drummer Christoph ‘Doom’ Schneider dresses as Meiwes’ mother and walks the rest of the band on leashes through the streets. The song and video caused controversy across the world – especially in the band’s homeland – and just doubly reminded us that Rammstein will always do what they feel is right for them and their audience. Never compromise, never surrender, always provoke.