In the absence of any new product from Rammstein since 2009’s Liebe Ist Für Alle Da, here Germany’s favourite camply serious/seriously camp industrial metallers celebrate their 21st anniversary with a career-summarising package, a monumental slab of muscular Neue Deutsche Härte (New German Hardness) for your delectation and, frankly, homoerotic delight.
You get their entire studio output, from 1995’s Herzeleid to Liebe…, remastered onto 180g heavyweight vinyl, all of them doubles, each complete with gatefold sleeve, original artwork and lyrics. Four of these (Herzeleid, 1997’s Sehnsucht, 2004’s Reise, Reise and 2005’s Rosenrot) make it onto this format for the first time.
There’s a further double LP, Raritäten, featuring 16 rare tracks from singles, ‘fan edition’ releases and special album formats. Most notably, there’s a previously unreleased version of the track Los, in which the band helpfully provide a self-debunking critique of their own work: this writer’s pidgin German deciphers that they are, according to “singer” Till Lindemann (term used advisedly given his guttural growl), variously “witless”, “tasteless”, “senseless” and “godless”. We’ll be the judges of that.
East Berlin’s finest offer a deconstruction of totalitarian Sturm und Drang, and the lure of the awesome spectacle with an awareness both of the totemic and comic appeal of their music and visuals. And argue all you like about the relative merits of vinyl and CD, but there’s no denying that now you can enjoy it all like never before. Not just every juddering rhythm, percussive fusillade and inhuman roar, but all the little details in the mix that might previously have been crushed by those pummelling beats.
You might not need an introduction to a band who have shifted millions of albums and proved a five-star live attraction around the world (including New York’s Madison Square Garden, where all 18,200 tickets sold in under 30 minutes in 2010).
But if you’re not familiar with their oeuvre, lucky you, because you’ve got it all to come: the anthemic Amerika, like German schlager music on steroids; the Depeche Mode-turned-death-machine stomp of Eifersucht; the almost inevitable version of Das Modell that sounds as much like Skinny Puppy as it does Kraftwerk; the monolithic march of Morgenstern, the precision-bomb attack of Zerstören…
If we are to live in a time of war, and it looks increasingly as though we must, then few provide a more apposite soundtrack – to its preposterous power and ominous potential – than the mighty Rammstein.
FINAL VERDICT: 9⁄10