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Rosenrot, Oh Rosenrot

By Jo Last edited 134 months ago
Rosenrot, Oh Rosenrot
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Rammstein - Rosenrot (Universal)

Why, you may ask, was this Londonista preparing to go out at 10pm last Sunday, hoodied up and with a bag full of reading material? Sundays are for sitting in front of the telly and trying not to think about Monday morning, right? There isn't much that will shift us from Sunday night TV - but news of a midnight Rammstein signing was more than enough to get us out of the house faster than you can say Strassenbahnhaltestelle. Yes, we're rather fond of the German Tanzmetal merchants, and no way were we going to miss a rare opportunity to meet the band - and get our hands on a copy of their new album Rosenrot to boot. Rosenrot is the companion piece to last year's Reise, Reise - and we were dying to know whether it was a full, proper Rammstein album in its own right or just a collection of B-sides and snippets.

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Arriving at around 11pm, the queue already stretched from Virgin on Oxford Street, where the band would be appearing, all the way down to Hanway Street, past Bradley's Spanish bar. (A Virgin employee said later that some especially hardcore fans had been camping outside since 11am.) The sea of black hoodies perplexed the passers-by, especially the drunk ones. There was a definite welcoming atmosphere among the queuing masses, and Londonist soon got chatting to the other fans.

When we finally arrived at the front, and had run the gauntlet of grim security guards, the actual encounter with the band themselves was over all too soon. Richard was absent, as he was in Paris two days previously, but the other five graced us with their formidable presences. A quick handshake, some babbled German and it was over. Was it worth it? Ja, ja, tausendmal ja. But what about the album ...?

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Over on the Herzeleid forums, there had been a certain fear that Rosenrot would be an unworthy follow-up to Reise, Reise, Mutter and the rest - that it was a rush-job, made up of mechanically-recovered scraps that only the most rabid fan could enjoy. Well, in Londonist's admittedly rabid fan-like view, this is, thankfully, not the case. Till Lindemann, the lead singer, has said of the Reise, Reise-Rosenrot connection that:

I see Rosenrot like the brother of Reise Reise, or like a different branch in the same tree. But these two records are totally independent.

As you would expect, there are thematic and musical similarities to their last album, but Rosenrot is a development rather than a knock-off. Opener Benzin, also the first Rosenrot single, starts the album in fine Rammstein style: a driving beat builds to a heavy, threatening riff, then Till's unique, mesmeric vocals kick in, then the song takes a turn for the even heavier with the chorus. This threatening, insistent mood is maintained for Mann Gegen Mann, a future single release and, in Londonist's opinion, an early contender for song of the album - it's melodic, catchy and a headbanging classic. Rammstein never being ones to avoid controversy, the lyrics deal with homosexuality:

Ein König ohne Königin
Wenn sich an mir ein Weib verirrt
dann ist die helle Welt verwirrt

[A king without a queen
When a woman is mistaken about me
then the bright world is confused]

...

Mann gegen Mann
Meine Haut gehört den Herren

[Man against man
My skin belongs to the gentlemen]

(NB: Translations here and subsequently from Herzeleid.com, by the prodigiously talented Jeremy Williams.)

The title track Rosenrot has unmistakeable overtones of Stein Um Stein, but whereas the earlier track was furiously angry, the prevailing mood in Rosenrot is of sadness and regret, sustained by powerful guitar chords in a minor key. Spring is another song from the classic Rammstein mould - haunting backing choir entwined with multi-layered guitars, a commanding chorus, synths, lyrics that tell a self-contained, tragic story - but that's no bad thing. Wo Bist Du follows the same formula - perhaps a little too closely, as there isn't much to distinguish it from the previous track.

Stirb Nicht Vor Mir (Don't Die Before I Do) is the album's first real surprise - it's a ballad, and a collaboration with Sharleen Spiteri of the band Texas, and a change in tone, if not in mood. Who ever thought Sharleen would be the missing link between the Wu-Tang Clan and Rammstein? Londonist isn't so sure that the song works - it's a bit, well, wimpy. We prefer Till when he's barking commands at us (or demanding to be dominated); whiny Till is a bit of a let-down. Ms Spiteri holds up her end well enough, but we have to agree with whoever said that it sounds more like Texas featuring Till Lindemann than R+ featuring Sharleen Spiteri. Hmm. Luckily, Zerstören, the next track, is a snarling chunk of pure, prime Rammstein, its relentless beat and synth hook harking back to the band's Herzeleid/Sehnsucht days.

After the epic, plaintive Hilf Mir, with its looping bass and long build-up, it's into the album's second real surprise: Te Quiero Puta!. Title doesn't look very German ... what's this? The Buena Vista Social Club goes electric? Electric guitars, trumpets, screaming and hilarious backing singers (Más más más por favor ...) combine to form a kind of Copacabana-industrial crossover cocktail. It's a bit of a mess, to be frank, although live, we have the feeling it could be quite rocking. Feuer Und Wasser is hypnotic and heavy, with trademarked Rammstein loud-quiet shifts and pervy lyrics; Ein Lied, the closing track, is as close to mellow as the band ever get, and provides a pensive, sweetly melodic end to the album.

Rosenrot, while not the undeniable classic that Mutter is, is still a strong collection of songs that could so easily have been little more than filler. If you love the band, then you've probably already bought this, so this review is superfluous; if you don't, but think you might, we suggest you try out some of their older material first, to ease yourself into their blackly humorous, techno-influenced metal ethic.

Now, having watched the three concert tracks that came on the Special Edition DVD, would it be too much to ask Till, Richard, Paul, Flake, Olli and Christoph to tour again, soon? All that footage of flamethrowers and guitars that shoot fireworks is bringing back some warm, nostalgic memories of a packed stadium one mental night in February. Please, guys?

You can listen to excerpts from some of the songs on Rosenrot here. Thanks to Amin for the photos!

Last Updated 01 November 2005