20. Rammstein (Herzeleid, 1995)
Wollt Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen? may have been the first song on Herzeleid, but Rammstein is the first song the band ever wrote. Based on the Rammstein air show disaster from which they take their name, it’s suitably moody, sinister and bass-heavy – it’s a perfect encapsulation of the band’s influences, from White Zombie to Depeche Mode. And no, it doesn’t matter that it’s the second song on the album to feature a hook simply bearing the word ‘Rammstein’. It sounds ace.
Alongside Heirate Mich, this was one of two Herzeleid songs featured in David Lynch’s Lost Highway, a neo-noir cult film released in 1997. It was the first time a large portion of American audiences ever heard the band, and served to make a weird film even weirder.
19. Puppe (Rammstein, 2019)
Till Lindemann suffers for his art. He’s what your aunt would call ‘a character’. This is the man who drilled actual holes in his cheeks to achieve that illuminated mouth effect in Ich Tu Dir Weh’s music video, yet Puppe is Till pushing further than he’s ever gone before. Backed just by crashing cymbals through the first chorus, he screams, and it is utterly unhinged. Primal. Sure, he did some harsh vocals for Reise, Reise’s Stein Um Stein, but nothing like this. It’s bloody raw, and marks the tipping point in Rammstein’s seventh album: the first five tracks were just non-stop bangers, then Puppe turns up to the party, unplugs the sound-system and starts weeping. Actually nightmarish.
18. Sehnsucht (Sehnsucht, 1997)
The title track and opening burst from album number zwei, Sehnsucht remains one of the giddiest songs in Rammstein’s live set today. You can trace that focal, pounding riff back to Richard’s pre-Rammstein band, Orgasm Death Gimmick, and those keyboards 35 seconds-in must have been lifted from a Tekken game. By the time you get to the gang vocal of ‘SEHNSUCHT!’, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have Till Hammered yourself into the ground. Mighty as it comes, that bit.
17. Rosenrot (Rosenrot, 2005)
For a band often accused of just nicking Ministry songs and shouting German over them, they’ve an awful lot of gentler tunes – good ones, at that. And while Rosenrot isn’t a ballad in the sense that it ends with a riff chunky enough to sink a ship, it’s another of those yearning tales of unrequited love that Till does so well (with a little help from literary lad Goethe, whose Heidenröslein poem informs the lyrics). This was supposed to end up on Reise, Reise, but the band believed in it so much, they wanted it to be a single and there just wasn’t the room. Probably a wise move, then, given the aforementioned final riff is that exact same as the finale of Stein Um Stein, also from Reise, Reise.
16. Amerika (Reise, Reise, 2004)
Sometimes, it’s nice to just be silly. Amerika is silly – its singalong chorus, a dead-ringer for The Sounds’ Living In America, is infectious. Instantaneous. Kids can sing it, so can your nana. ‘Coca-Cola, sometimes war’ perhaps doesn’t seem like a single-worthy lyric from a band famed for BDSM imagery, but Rammstein have always been a bit extra; Flake’s keyboard solo is so outrageous, he used to play it live while riding a Segway around the stage. That is, until he accidentally knackered Till’s knee when he drove into him, forcing the band to cancel several dates in 2005.
15. Radio (Rammstein, 2019)
They covered The Model two decades prior, but Radio sees Rammstein go whole-hog, Radioactivity-era Kraftwerk with the synth and, in particular, the tapered-down penultimate chorus. Still, it’s Rammstein – Christoph makes a 4/4 beat sound like it’s something he just came up with, and Till’s drawn out ‘Raaaaaadio’ through the final refrain is truly special stuff. And that’s before you even get to the lyrical gubbins, which examine the censorship of Western music, art and culture by the German Democratic Republic – something the members of Rammstein lived through behind the Berlin Wall.
14. Adios (Mutter, 2001)
Mutter’s first half is packed full of singles, and Adios’ back-end placement within the album absolutely does not reflect its quality. That guitar solo – it’s hands-down the catchiest instrumental break they’ve recorded, sitting inside the fastest Rammstein song to date, Christoph’s drums running behind Till’s wails in an effort to keep up. That they haven’t played this since 2002 is criminal.
13. Keine Lust (Reise, Reise, 2004)
For a song with lyrics as apathetic as this (‘Ich habe keine Lust mich nicht zu hassen, hab' keine Lust mich anzufassen’ roughly translates to ‘I don't feel like not hating myself, don't feel like touching myself’), Keine Lust sure is fun. It’s got one of those rolling, almost carnival-esque choruses not too dissimilar to Haifisch, driven along by Christoph’s beats before the meaty riffs swoop back for the verses. The breakdown’s a right heavy bastard, too. Nothing fancy – just a top-tier example of Rammstein chugging away.
12. Links 2-3-4 (Mutter, 2001)
Since Herzeleid, Rammstein had been accused of far-right sympathies. Links 2-3-4 refutes that in the most Rammstein fashion possible. Flanked by the sound of marching boots, Till’s militaristic commands translate to ‘My heart beats to the left, 2-3-4’: this being lifted from Einheitsfrontlied, a Brechtian song written in 1934 to rally Germany’s communist and social democrat parties against the Nazis. Like the band’s biggest singles (don’t worry, we’re getting there), Links 2-3-4’s success lies in its apparent simplicity. You can sing it back the first time you hear it, you can bang your head to it, and there’s ample chance to just scream vowels when you run out of stock German words to say.
11. Ohne Dich (Reise, Reise, 2004)
Originally cooked up for inclusion on Mutter, this symphonic-tinged dirge didn’t cut the mustard, as the band didn’t fancy any more ballads. But fast-forward to Reise, Reise, and the more earthy aesthetic suits Ohne Dich to the ground. The strings, stirring the intensity every time Paul and Richard break through with the electrics; Till’s romantic cries of ‘Ohne dich’ (‘Without you’) accentuated by that gorgeous, uncanny mandolin. Spectacular. Rammstein are so much more than a one-dick pony.