Rammstein’s lurid lyrics turned me into a keen European | Rammstein

It was Until Lindemann’s voice that first drew me to Rammstein, the German industrial steel band that dominated my teen years. I first heard it on a Kerrang! compilation CD in 2002, the place the band’s single Sonne appeared proper on the finish of a tracklist in any other case filled with shouting People who sounded mad at their dads. As deep and scary because the Mariana trench, Lindemann’s dramatic baritone is incomparably filthy – and he was additionally singing in German, a language I had barely been uncovered to as a tragically monolingual Brit. My obsession with Rammstein aggravated and apprehensive my dad and mom in equal measure, and over the following few years gifted me with a German vocabulary that my high-school trainer memorably described as “extraordinary, if unrepeatable”. Unlikely because it may appear, it was additionally my obsession with Rammstein that made me into a keen European.

Let’s get again to Lindemann for a minute. He is among the all-time nice steel frontmen, an unignorable and barely scary drive, alternating between growling and singing soulfully over Rammstein’s trademark combo of membership keyboards and chugging guitars – easy, insistent riffs that lodged themselves deep in my mind matter. It made my hair stand on finish. After selecting up Rammstein’s third album, Mutter, which I should have listened to a minimum of as soon as a day for years, I began digging round on-line for Rammstein fan boards the place folks shared images of the band of their numerous absurd techno-BDSM outfits. I obtained maintain of a copy of their live performance DVD, Reside aus Berlin, on particular order from HMV and watched Lindemann prowl round on stage like a big bear, pounding his fist into his knee in his idiosyncratic headbanging fashion. The prettier guitarist, Richard Kruspe, was hottest with all of the goth women on the steel boards, nevertheless it was all about Lindemann for me.

Keza MacDonald seeing Rammstein in Berlin for the first time.
The writer seeing Rammstein in Berlin for the primary time. {Photograph}: Keza MacDonald

Rammstein’s songs are fairly impactful on report, however the band’s reside performances had been the stuff of web legend once I was a teenager. After as soon as setting a venue on hearth throughout Rammstein’s early reveals within the Nineteen Nineties, Lindemann turned a certified pyrotechnician, and since then their reside performances have featured every thing from face-mounted flamethrowers to a set of steel angel wings that seeped hearth on to a flammable asbestos coat. The theatrics didn’t cease on the fireworks: in 1999, they had been arrested after a present in Massachusetts for his or her hilariously over-the-top efficiency of Bück Dich (Bend Over), which concerned Lindemann, the keyboard participant Flake, and a big exploding dildo. Who wouldn’t need to see this band? Like many metalhead teenagers of the 00s, I used to be an absolute sucker for Rammstein’s swagger and controversy-courting edginess. Nevertheless it was years earlier than I’d get to expertise it.

There’s one thing barely tragic about loving a band from a totally different nation. It’s like a long-distance relationship: it’s a must to go to fairly excessive lengths to see them. At 14, I had no hope – I may hardly get my dad and mom to take me to one in all their uncommon UK reveals, and I’d by no means been to Germany. So I fed my obsession by translating unspeakably disgusting steel lyrics in my faculty jotters and growing a love of the language. I realized an increasing number of in regards to the historic, linguistic and cultural norms that Rammstein made a profession out of subverting. By the point I used to be in a position to really make the pilgrimage to see my favorite band of their dwelling nation, I used to be finding out German at college, about to embark upon an Erasmus 12 months in Berlin.


I first realized from my obsession with Rammstein that a language is a approach into a tradition and a mind-set. After I later studied French, after which Japanese, music was a approach in every time. I consider that while you see how folks write and sing in a totally different language, you learn the way folks assume in that language. There’s a linguistic concept referred to as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which posits that human thought is outlined (and restricted) by our language, and that our totally different mom tongues have an effect on our world view. You may learn issues in translation, however I nonetheless assume you perceive one thing higher while you perceive the language and tradition that produced them.

My love of Rammstein has endured – their self-titled 2019 album (their first for 10 years) is their finest, in the event you ask me. Over time, I’ve come to understand that for all that Rammstein are a controversy-courting and typically tasteless band, with a singer who thinks nothing of writing absolute bangers about incest, cannibalism and sadism (one memorable lyric, introduced context-free: “No matter you need, I gained’t say no / I insert the rodents”) and music movies which are, occasionally, pornographic, they’re additionally camp and self-aware, and, within the face of uninformed criticism, resolutely left-leaning. The lyrics and video for his or her 2019 single Deutschland discover the band’s conflicted relationship with their dwelling nation: it’s a fascinating deconstruction of German historical past and nationwide id. I wouldn’t have a clue about any of this if it weren’t for my German diploma, and the good instances I spent travelling the continent as a completely happy, free younger European – and I’ve Rammstein to thank for that.

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