10. Mutter (Mutter, 2001)
A man in his late thirties, screaming for his mum with the voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop should be hilarious. But Mutter is not hilarious. It’s heartbreaking. The mid-tempo, lullaby balladry of the verses details a child crying out to be loved, something which feels particularly sobering when you consider Richard’s strained relationship with his mother when he was young. Those guitar lines through the chorus should be triumphant, but the way they weave underneath Till’s vocals, how they play against the orchestration – it’s just deeply sad. Everything about it’s sad, down to the guitar solo.
9. Du Reichst So Gut (Herzeleid, 1995)
Throughout this list, Rammstein have more than proven they can do emotion. They can do sensitive. But ultimately, this is Rammstein. They’re known for their overblown, hyper-masculine take on industrial metal. Even on their debut, Du Reichst So Gut had all the boxes ticked. Christoph’s got that 4/4 stomp nailed, the guitar solo’s a joy to listen to every time, and Flake’s keys play the foil to Till’s booming baritone. That warped, subversive lyrical aspect is also covered, the lyrics being inspired by Perfume: the novel by Patrick Süskind, chronicling a man who kills teenage girls and captures their scent. This was Rammstein’s first ever single – imagine a band coming along nowadays and the first thing you hear is of the depth and quality of Du Reichst So Gut. Mad.
8. Mein Teil (Reise, Reise, 2004)
Mein Teil opens with Rammstein’s most bestial riff, so the subject matter seems rather appropriate. You know it. Armin Meiwes. German chap. Went on the internet in 2001, looking for voluntary victims to be cannibalised – he found one. Till’s nasal verses are enough to give Vin Diesel the willies, laying the foundations for that explosive ‘Denn! Du bist! Was! Du isst!’ (‘Because you are what you eat’) just before the chorus. The eerie choirs and discordant guitar solo are genuinely jarring, yet Mein Teil shot to number 2 in the German singles chart and remains a spectacle of pantomime proportions during the Rammstein live show.
7. Ich Tu Dir Weh (Liebe Ist Für Alle Da, 2009)
As mentioned earlier, LIFAD is a heavy album, swapping more of the techno-tinged stuff for creepier keys and forehead-caving riffs. Ich Tu Dir Weh has that in spades, but it’s also packing an oddly velveteen refrain from Till – he almost sounds angelic, were it not for the fact that the line he’s singing translates to ‘I want to hurt you’. The violent overtones of the lyrics, paired with LIFAD’s graphic cover art, resulted in the record being ‘indexed’ for six months in Germany: basically, it was only available behind the counter and you had to be eighteen or older to buy it. Rammstein had this decision overturned, and sued the actual government for lost sales on the album.
6. Ich Will (Mutter, 2001)
Much like Links 2-3-4, Ich Will works because it seems dead simple. And again, much like Links 2-3-4, Ich Will’s verses comprise mainly of the title being rasped by Till, Christoph’s boisterous bass drum keeping everything in line. He’s an exceptional drummer, and his ability to just make a simple beat seem like a work of genius is something that’s often mistaken for laziness – go listen to that sneaky little fill before the final chorus and try saying it’s a cop-out. You can’t.
The question/answer of Till and the ‘crowd’ is electrifying, priming itself for the live environment. Even Flake’s keyboards, which should, by all accounts, sound completely incongruous given their levity here, can only serve the song and make it even more accomplished. Mad that Mutter is such a quality album, Ich Will wasn’t even picked as the lead single – it was third.
5. Engel (Sehnsucht, 1997)
Sehnsucht is what turned Rammstein from local curios to certified legends in their home country, and Engel can take a bow and claim a large part of the credit. Released as the album’s first single, it instantly stands out as just being more than Herzeleid. More sophisticated in its integration of electronics, no matter how cheesy they could sound if played by anyone other than Flake; more theatrical, by virtue of Till’s voice becoming more richly developed, especially during that isolated moment, ‘Gott weiß, ich will kein Engel sein’ (‘God knows I don’t want to be an angel’); more willing to put its neck out and experiment, opening with just a whistled melody and roping in German singer Bobo to lather up those saccharine lines – the ones you used to hear on backing track when the band played it live.
4. Mein Herz Brennt (Mutter, 2001)
With Mutter, Rammstein started to sound a lot more… serious. The heft, the muscle, the precision all solidifies on this record, and Mein Herz Brennt is the introduction. As the album begins, you know you’re in for something different. Something new. The strings slither under the surface, Till’s voice bubbling over the boil as he shouts ‘Mein Herz brennt!’ (‘My heart is burning’). The orchestration properly kicks in, delivering a tune so gargantuan, it’s been used in a Mercedes Benz advert. By far and away the most interesting one-note guitar riff on existence, too.
3. Du Hast (Sehnsucht, 1997)
The thudding, call-and-response genius of Rammstein’s breakthrough 1997 single is their Smells Like Teen Spirit: you never need to hear it again, but you’re glad when you do. It’s the song that broke them in North America, the song that’s remained a staple in their live set no matter what, and the song that does the big boy numbers on Spotify. Du Hast’s merciless, watertight drumbeat supports a riff reminiscent of Ministry’s Just One Fix, but less heroin-y; Till’s rich, bassy voice juxtaposes Flake’s cheeky, video-games-meet-goth-club synthesisers across the song’s four-minute duration. It’s heavy. It’s catchy. A dancefloor-filler. Verse, chorus, verse; in, out, done. Banger.
2. Deutschland (Rammstein, 2019)
The wait had been agonising. Eight years without original material. No album on the horizon. Then, on a cold March evening, the video for Deutschland arrived. A potted history of Germany’s triumphs and ills, smushed together in a cinematic smorgasbord of perversity – it had the brutality and brains to titillate and terrify in equal measure. So detailed was the video, it took a minute for the song to sink in. Like all the best Rammstein tracks, the chorus is just one word: ‘Deutschland’. Something you can shout in a festival field, in your house, in the shower.
Richard’s backing vocals were a little off-putting to begin with, some fans worrying his time with side-project Emigrate had given him frontman fever. Perhaps he was eyeing up the microphone as the music cuts out and Till’s barbed tongue delivers that aural middle-finger to right-wingers, putting a spin on Germany’s former national anthem: ‘Deutschland, Deutschland über allen’ is contorted to exude negative connotations, rather than its original, ‘über alles’ counterpart adopted by the Nazis.
But this is the only song on ‘Rammstein’ to feature Richard’s vocals, and as a result, they’re an intriguing flavour, peppering Flake’s spiky keyboard loops and that impervious, rock-hard spine laid down by the drums and bass. Twenty-five years on, and Rammstein could still turn up out of nowhere, cause just as much – if not more – controversy as before, and top it all off with a shit-hot tune.
1. Sonne (Mutter, 2001)
Rammstein do drama like no other band, and Sonne is the most dramatic of the lot. As Till counts from eins to neun, the anticipation builds like mints foaming in cola. Then comes ‘Aus!’ – that riff comes in, fizzy drink spills everywhere and the best Rammstein song, as voted by you, begins in earnest.
Sonne isn’t a traditional Rammstein song. Rather than deliver Till Hammer-worthy thrills, its original aim was to actually hype people up: its birth can be traced back to the year 2000, when the band were asked to write a song for Ukrainian boxer (and now politician) Vitali Klitschko, who needed a new song to accompany him to the ring. He ultimately passed on Sonne, but no matter – it fits snuggly between Links 2-3-4 and Ich will, providing a moment of epic excess on an album that, to be honest, was excessive enough before you even get to the music, given the controversial cover art featuring the foetus of an aborted child. Till’s pitch-black, melancholy delivery of the line ‘Hier kommt die Sonne’ (‘Here comes the sun’) turns something that should be optimistic into a funeral march. The depths of sorrow. The fucking dirt.
Sonne’s widescreen misery is always a highlight live, especially given the extended treatment it’s afforded. On record, it ends with those sampled, high-pitched warbles. In concert, the band return for one more go, Richard and Paul letting their notes ring out as flames engulf everything. It’s jaw-dropping, and just before you think it can’t get any more intense, they tear through that three-note riff one last time, just to show you they can.
It might not be your stereotypical Rammstein song, but according to Louder’s readers, it’s the best. Hard to disagree with that.