When Rammstein formed in 1994, they were born into a post-Cold War world and took full advantage of the falling of boundaries and borders. Flames. Controversial music videos. Songs about sadomasochism, sex tourism and a man being fed his own bits. They had everything a growing metal sensation needed, all tied into a sonic package that somehow drew a lineage between industrial, new wave and the emergent nu metal scene.
They might only have put out two albums in the 1990s, but Rammstein were setting the tone for a career that has spanned almost three decades since. These are the 10 best songs Rammstein released in the 90s.
10. Stripped (For The Masses, 1998)
Depeche Mode and pinched harmonics. Shouldn’t really work, should it? Nobody told Rammstein, and we’re rather chuffed they didn’t. Originally released on the For The Masses Depeche Mode tribute album, Stripped marked Till’s first full foray into English, shortening the refrain due to ‘Let me see you stripped down to the bone’ being a mouthful.
While it’s a cover the original artist actually gave a thumbs-up to, not everyone was best pleased. Probably because Rammstein used clips from Leni Riefenstahl’s 1938 propaganda film, Olympia, in the accompanying music video.
9. Spiel Mit Mir (Sehnsucht, 1997)
Nothing says ‘platinum album’ quite like a song about incest. Spiel Mit Mir, from second record Sehnsucht, harbours Rammstein’s most sickening set of lyrics until 2009’s Wiener Blut; twisted euphemisms (not putting them here, Google it) wrap around blackened, murky synth and a grinding, mid-tempo stomp.
Messed-up in that way only Rammstein can get away with, playful keyboard begins to pepper the verses before going full-out Simpsons Treehouse of Horror. Spiel Mit Mir is pretty gross, made only more so by Till’s sweet-as-treacle opening salvo.
8. Eifersucht (Sehnsucht, 1997)
One of Sehnsucht’s sillier songs, Eifersucht is a clear midway point between ‘old’ and ‘new’ Rammstein. It still retains that bug-eyed, almost Playstation 1-ish synth, and Till’s stuttered delivery of the refrain is a bit hammy. But that riff is a hefty old bugger, and while it had been knocking around in one form or another since the band’s demo days in 1994, it’s been refined here to accommodate their growing, heavier inclinations. The lyrics are also based on the ludicrous cannibal flick featuring Michael Gambon, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover. Which, if you know Mein Teil, is very Rammstein indeed.
7. Asche Zu Asche (Herzeleid, 1995)
Rammstein had demoed and live-tested a bunch of Herzeleid’s material before recording it, but Asche Zu Asche seems to be something of a late bloomer. Herzeleid is the first place it turns up, and what an entrance – Paul and Richard riffing in unison, letting up during the verses only to be replaced by some comically timed breakbeats. In the hands of someone else, this would sound really stupid. Good job, then, that Rammstein go so hard during Asche Zu Asche, even the keyboard solo sounds like it could grab you by the neck and give you a swirly.
6. Bück Dich (Sehnsucht, 1997)
It’s the one that got Rammstein arrested in America for simulating sodomy on stage, but Bück Dich deserves to be known as more than just ‘the bumming song’. The riff is harrowingly blunt, accentuated by that clanging keg-hit; twinned with Flake’s creaky, hydraulic-sounding keys and Till demanding you bend over, Bück Dich is an industrial metal masterclass.
5. 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 Ramstein 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.
4. 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.
3. Du Reichst So Gut (Herzeleid, 1995)
Throughout their career, 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.
2. 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.
1. 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.
Rammstein unleashed a brand new single, Zeit, this month, with a brand new studio album of the same name set to land on April 29. They go back out on tour later this year.
Rammstein 2022 Tour
May 15: Prague Airport Letnany, Czech Republic
May 16: Prague Airport Letnany, Czech Republic
May 20: Leipzig Red Bull Arena, Germany
May 21: Leipzig Red Bull Arena, Germany
May 25: Klagenfurt Wörthersee Stadion, Austria
May 26: Klagenfurt Wörthersee Stadion, Austria
May 30: Zurich Stadion Letzigrund, Switzerland
May 31: Zurich Stadion Letzigrund, Switzerland
Jun 04: Berlin Olympiastadion, Germany
Jun 05: Berlin Olympiastadion, Germany
Jun 10: Stuttgart Cannstatter Wasen, Germany
Jun 11: Stuttgart Cannstatter Wasen, Germany
Jun 14: Hamburg Volksparkstadion, Germany
Jun 15: Hamburg Volksparkstadion, Germany
Jun 18: Düsseldorf Merkur Spiel-Arena, Germany
Jun 19: Düsseldorf Merkur Spiel-Arena, Germany
Jun 22: Aarhus Ceres Park, Denmark
Jun 26: Coventry Ricoh Arena, UK
Jun 30: Cardiff Principality Stadium, UK
Jul 04: Nijmegen Goffertpark, Nertherlands
Jul 05: Nijmegen Goffertpark, Nertherlands
Jul 08: Lyon Groupama Stadium, France
Jul 09: Lyon Groupama Stadium, France
Jul 12: Turin Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, Italy
Jul 16: Warsaw PGE Narodowy, Poland
Jul 20: Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, Estonia
Jul 24: Oslo Bjerke Travbane, Norway
Jul 29: Gothenburg Ullevi Stadium, Sweden
Jul 30: Gothenburg Ullevi Stadium, Sweden
Aug 03: Ostend Park De Nieuwe Koers, Belgium
Aug 04: Ostend Park De Nieuwe Koers, Belgium
Aug 21: Montreal Parc Jean-Drapeau, QC
Aug 27: Minneapolis U.S. Bank Stadium, MN
Aug 31: Philadelphia Lincoln Financial Field, PA
Sep 03: Chicago Soldier Field, IL
Sep 06: East Rutherford MetLife Stadium, NJ
Sep 09: Foxborough Gillette Stadium, MA
Sep 17: San Antonio Alamodome, TX
Sep 23: Los Angeles Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, CA
Sep 24: Los Angeles Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, CA
Oct 01: Mexico City Foro Sol, MX
Oct 02: Mexico City Foro Sol, MX
Oct 04: Mexico City Foro Sol, MX