Mosaic / Music / Reviews / April 15, 2010

The musicality of controversy

In late October 2009, the German hard rock band Rammstein released their sixth studio album, “Liebe ist für alle da” (Love is there for everyone) and, much like their previous albums, the group has been met with both praise and controversy.

Shortly after its release in Germany, authorities added the album to a list of media deemed harmful to minors, meaning that only individuals over the age of majority could legally purchase the album. This resulted in an edited version of the album being released, censoring several songs and removing one, “Ich tu dir weh” (I hurt you) entirely. Outside of Germany, the album remains intact.

Fans of Rammstein’s previous work will find plenty to enjoy in their most recent venture. The opening track, “Rammlied,” builds to a slow start, a low drone increasing in volume, to which lead vocalist Till Lindemann adds his lone voice. The song continues like this for some time until the abrupt addition of the full band, thrumming with a furious intensity and a chorus that shouts the group’s name. It does not cover much new ground musically but it opens the album in a safe way, giving fans what they are familiar with and providing a solid introduction to the group’s signature mix of heavy metal and electronica that has led some to place in its own unique genre.

The second track, “Ich tu dir weh,” is one of the better tracks on the album despite the hubbub surrounding it and, for listeners who do not speak German, the objections to the song’s content will go right over one’s head. Even as he sings about explicit sadomasochistic topics, Lindemann sings beautifully, alternating between an airy hiss during the verses and a deep, rich baritone for the chorus. Backed by constant, harsh guitar and ethereal keyboard work, the track shines as an excellent example of what the group can do when inspired.

“Haifisch” (Shark), the third single to be released from the album, is another highlight. The introduction to the song is a reedy, pulsing keyboard riff that draws the listener in and Lindemann’s unhurried and oddly bouncing vocal work makes sure they remain. The emphatic pronunciations of the song’s chorus make it one of the catchier tunes to be found.

Switching up the pace a bit, the group brings “Frühling in Paris” (Spring in Paris) to provide a staple in the album’s middle. Slower and lighter than the typical Rammstein song, “Frühling” is shockingly mellow, even during the louder, fervent chorus.

Despite the things that Rammstein does right on this release, they occasionally fall back into a place that is safe and comfortable for the band, resulting in a number of songs which seem phoned-in and stale. As mentioned previously, the opening track falls prey to this apparent mindset, but songs like “B********” (a word meant to mean whatever fans want it to, not a censored word, according to the group) and the eponymous track occupy this middle ground as well. They are not so much unpleasant to listen to as they are mediocre and forgettable.

Luckily, these bouts of mediocrity are infrequent, and the album is refreshing when compared with other albums in the group’s discography.

Dan Dyrda

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