They are perhaps the most successful and the most controversial band to emerge from Germany in history, achieving worldwide acclaim that has lasted nearly 20 years. Widely accepted as part of the Neue Deutsche Härte style, Rammstein has bridged the gap between the heavy metal mainstream and the industrial dance underground with the bludgeoning guitar riffs of Richard Z. Kruspe and Paul H. Landers, the slithery rhythmic throb of bassist Olive “Ollie” Riedel, the thunderous percussive assaults of Christoph “Doom” Schneider, and searing electronic ambience courtesy of Christian “Flake” Lorenz, topped off by Till Lindemann’s vocals that run the gamut from guttural power to operatic grandeur. From the onset, the band has pummeled audiences around the world with the Teutonic force of a battering ram with live shows so audibly destructive and visually striking that they threaten to outweigh the band’s musical merits. So intense are the band’s live shows in their extremities of imagery and performance that Rammstein has been subject to much criticism to the point of outright censorship.
With their lyrics sung primarily in German with occasional excursions into other languages and touching on a range of topics pertaining to love and sex in all its forms, no matter how taboo, and incorporating a high degree of wordplay befitting the subtleties of their native tongue, it stands to reason that the visual component of Rammstein would follow. One need only watch one of their many music videos – often featuring copious amounts of BDSM, cannibalism, blasphemy, and nudity – for proof of the band’s penchant for pushing the limits of taste with eroticism and humor. Such displays of oversexed and smarmy behavior are essential to the band’s appeal, particularly in the live setting. The theatricality and pomposity of such shows simply cannot be denied by even the staunchest critic; never mind the brash Germanic bravado, but when coupled with well choreographed costume changes and depictions of sexual deviance in the form of phallic props and bodily motions, it is no wonder that Rammstein’s live shows are legendary as the utmost expression of their stylistic pursuits.
As if the costumes and props weren’t enough to sate the audience’s desires for sex and metal, the band adds an even more grandiose and dangerous element: Fire! Never content to simply be six musicians on stage playing the hits of the day, Rammstein live performances are renowned for their seething volume and heaviness but more so for the blistering heat resulting from a combination of spectacular light shows and pyrotechnic spectacles. Pillars of fire and columns of smoke rise and fall from the stage as clouds of sweat and flame engulf every venue the band can get away with. Perhaps the most striking image one can see is vocalist Till Lindemann on fire, raising his arms in a brilliant display of burning messianic passion and power.
With such vibrant and virulent exhibitions of sex and fire, consistently tantalizing and challenging their audience’s sense, it is no surprise that Rammstein has instigated much controversy over the years with various band members being arrested on numerous occasions for various charges of indecency and impropriety and even facing accusations of fascism due to their occasional flirtations with militaristic imagery. Nevertheless, such claims and actions have only served to strengthen the resolve of not only the band but the fans; Rammstein concerts remain a much sought after experience, and yet, the band spent a significant number of years – nearly a decade since the 2001-2002 Mutter Tour – off of United States soil. This ended in 2010-2011 when the band embarked on the Liebe ist für Alle Da Tour, performing across the States and North America to much fanfare, though considerably less onstage depictions of anal rape.
Now with the release of Made in Germany 1995-2011, Rammstein celebrates nearly two decades of being America’s favorite German import. Spanning over a month and taking them across 21 dates in the USA and Canada, the sexy sextet are poised to brutalize American audiences yet again with a full on showcase of their greatest hits over the years, sure to make the night skies glow red with raging desire and violent anticipation. Few who have seen the band in a live performance walk away unsatisfied, though most have to be carried out due to heat exhaustion and general rowdiness – just as a good rock & roll show should be, and Rammstein has proven time and again that they can deliver. In short, the Made in Germany 1995-2011 Tour promises to be everything one could want from Rammstein.
For more information on Rammstein tour dates and tickets…
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)
Photographs by Katherine Gaines (AmbientEye)
Courtesy of AmbientEye Photography – http://www.ambienteye.com