Rammstein are still a couple of years off the big 3-0, but the passage of time weighs heavy on the band's new single Zeit. The title-track from the Germans' upcoming eighth studio record, Zeit catches the sextet in an oddly melancholic state, with lyrics (translated into English) like 'Time, please stand still, stand still/Time this should always go on so/time, it is so beautiful, so beautiful' driving the point home against a piano-led balladic accompaniment.
This being Rammstein, though, the band still went all-in for the single's accompanying music video, which attracted 40,000 viewers just for its premiere. Directed by actor and musician Robert Gwisdek, Zeit lays the poetic allegories on thick with more symbolism than you can shake a Sigmund Freud at. With that in mind, we cracked out our English GCSE analytical skills and dug deep into Zeit's many layers to try and decipher what it all means.
0:00 - 0:05
It's the Rammstein logo, but underwater. Not a fat lot to say about that, so far as it being an establishing shot and all, but the fact Rammstein don't often flash their name up at the start of videos might be worthy of note. They didn't quite do a self-titled record in 2019, but Untitled isn't a million miles away and the overall reflective tone of Zeit has us wondering if the band are stripping away some of the bombast and artifice they've built up over the past 30 years, offering a more intimate look at the band. Maybe.
0:06 - 0:23
A frayed thread floats up through the shot. With Rammstein, a cigar is never just a cigar, so considering the song's wider focus on time we're guessing this is an allegory for the thread of life, as per Greek mythology. It's extremely frayed but still drifts on through the ocean, which itself could be representative of the ocean of time. Like we said, layers.
0:24 - 0:37
Bodies - or to be exact, Rammstein's bodies - are in the water. Unlike the thread (which continues to climb through the shot) the band appear to be almost motionless (as you can be, floating in water at least), preserved in a state of suspended animation. The threads continues to drift up, then coils around one of the member's (Christoph Schneider, we think) neck - again, if the cord is 'the thread of life', here it serves as a noose. Ominous...
0:38 - 0:57
Close-up shots of the band still adrift in the water, but we then get a low shot and can see what is happening outside of our immediate frame of vision. The water above is utter chaos, a raging maelstrom just above their heads. Considering the state of the outside world right now, we don't need to think too hard about what that could all be about.
0:58 - 1:23
There's a boat floating overhead and the band start moving in reverse - it looks like the chaos is what threw them into the sea in the first place, but now they're sucked back up above the surface. Could easily be read as a reference to the pandemic - they were thrown into a state of suspended animation, but now the chaos is back and they're about to start moving again.
1:24 - 1:37
The band are back on a boat and raging against the tides of time, but fighting a losing battle. We've all been there.
1:38 - 1:40
A mysterious figure stands immobile on the waters and the band are awed. We are too, as the shot is utterly gorgeous, similar to the famous Washington Crossing The Delaware painting, which incidentally was done by German-American artist Emanuel Leutze. Nice link.
Who the mysterious figure is, is anyone's guess. It could well be an anthropomorphised depiction of time, which admittedly would fit in with the wider themes of the video. It could also be an iteration of death (again, it fits to an extent with the running theme). It also looks suspiciously like something we'd see in a Sleep Token video. They've already infiltrated Muse, so why not Rammstein?
1:41 - 1:56
The scene shifts and now Rammstein aren't sailors, they're soldiers. They stalk through woodland in various states of distress; some are wounded, all look haggard and at least one looks to have kicked the bucket. Till Lindemann hides from shadowy figures just above (which makes us a bit nostalgic for the iconic scene between Frodo and the Ringwraiths in Fellowship Of The Ring). If we were picking up on the thread from the previous scenario, the band aren't just fighting the tides of time - they are actively at war with it.
1:57 - 2:22
Some reverse action again - Christopher Nolan would be proud. The band are blasted back to life and we get a tense stand-off as the band face off. As the camera pans round, we get some reverse-gore from a gunshot, then a swoop back as the shooters are replaced with children holding sticks like rifles. Stepping out of the direct 'Rammstein vs time' narrative the rest of the video has followed thus far, this sequence feels especially poignant - kids playing war games and then fighting (and dying) at war.
The camera continues to close in and swoop out, revealing the rest of the band are now also children holding sticks, only this time they're trained on some bundled babies on the floor. Slipping back in to the wider video themes, we might guess that this is Rammstein telling us that the fight against time is something we're part of from birth.
2:23 - 2:26
The weird Sleep Token-y figure is back, looming over the older Rammstein children. We get a close up of the babies and the kids slowly lower their rifles...
2:27 - 2:33
The cloaked figure emerges from a falling column of sand with a Rammstein baby. Behind it, two similar-looking figures also emerge clutching babies. We can guess these sands are representative of the sands of time, adding another poetic allegory to the ever-expanding list. If the figure is death/time, this appears to be its realm. It's all very Terry Pratchett, albeit with more German stoicism and no Binky in sight.
2:34 - 2:55
The figures stand before a group of women giving birth atop a pile of sand. If the sand is time, then perhaps this is Rammstein saying birth is the only way to beat it, in the end. The women are blindfolded and attended to by similarly blindfolded members of Rammstein, who appear to be putting the babies back. Lovely. The sand falling behind them makes it look almost like they are in a giant hourglass, particularly as above them is a mirror image of the same scene.
2:56 - 3:10
You didn't think this was all poetry and symbolism, did you? Nope, this is Rammstein so we get a very graphic shot of childbirth. Miracle or no, we reckon an NSFW warning wouldn't have gone amiss.
3:11 - 3:18
We're pretty sure that's Till Lindemann again, but its hard to tell as he's getting completely buried by rushing sand/dust. He struggles against it, but to no avail.
3:19 - 3:34
Other members of the band take the crushing sands a lot more in stride, sitting patiently as it covers them completely. Is it a reflection of their feelings on the passage of time? Who knows... We get a great group shot the band all together however, unmoving as the sand falls down and covers them. Considering they have had the same line-up for almost 30 years, we can guess this is a reflection of how time moves on but Rammstein stay the same.
3:35 - 3:44
Our cloaked friends turn up again with the babies still in tow, we get one last shot of a dust-covered member of Rammstein and everything fades to black, perfectly in time with the music. Ah yes, this was a music video, wasn't it?
3:45 - 4:01
A change of scenery again, and this time Rammstein are old-timey farmers, working in a field of wheat. The use of scythes to reap the wheat feels pretty on-the-nose by this point - the band are time/death and the wheat is humanity, right? Oliver Riedel sits apart from the band holding his daughter close when he notices the real time/death lurking in the woods nearby. Ah, maybe not then.
4:02 - 4:22
The daughter walks through the fields towards the figure and Oliver jumps up to intervene, she closes in and we get a slo-mo shot of Oliver looking agonised, collapsing to his knees as she is enveloped in the mysterious figure's cloak.
4:23 - 4:35
The figure and the daughter emerge into the sand realm and we cut back to the field, where she lies dead. There's another stunning shot, this time of the figure looking up, its glowing masks surrounded by the darkness of the swirling sands all around it.
4:36 - 4:53
Another backwards shot, as crumbled sand comes back together to reveal the band's faces as sand sculptures. The sculptures look suspiciously like death masks... We get another shot of Oliver carrying the daughter's body past the other members of the band and back in the sand realm, an utterly incredible sculpture which looks like Renaissance art. In it, a hooded figure looms over a mother, father and baby (all blindfolded), while elsewhere we see a family and what looks like a wheel (another 'time' allegory perhaps, with the wheel of time).
4:54 - 5:18
The daughter and the figure are back in the sand realm. She approaches the sand (which continues to flow in reverse) and puts her hands in it, before submerging herself completely. For a while we can see her silhouette but then she disappears completely. The phrase 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust' comes to mind...
And that's it, the main body of the video finished. We get a better look at the sand masks of the band and shots from the video over the credits, but its all fairly straightforward, though again it feels significant that the band reiterate their identity right before the credits roll. It's no small feat keeping the same six guys together for almost 30 years and with the retrospective vibe of Zeit as a whole, it seems to bring everything back home for this album marking the passage of time. For exactly what it means in the album's wider context however, we've got a few more weeks to wait yet...
Zeit is due April 29. Rammstein head out on tour this summer
Rammstein tour dates 2022
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