Rosenrot

Studio Album by released in 2005

Rosenrot review

The fifth studio album from Rammstein is expanding their already bountiful palette

Rammstein was formed in 1993 by an assembly of factory-weary proletarians raised in East Germany. They took their name (adding an "m") from the location of a German tragedy where 80 people were hurt and killed as the result of a crash during an American Air Force flight show. The literal translation of "ram stein" is a battering ram made of stone. Word of Rammstein's horror romanticist blend of theatre and music spread like wildfire. One-time Olympic swimmer Till Lindemann would sing entire songs engulfed in flame from head to toe. They blasted onto the international scene when 1999's Du Hast became a fixture of MTV Europe's playlist and their fanatical fan base has been growing ever since. The industrial metal sextet, famous for their elaborate fire displays on stage, has gathered a huge following in the UK, Europe and America. The fifth studio album from Rammstein, Germany's greatest musical export since Kraftwerk, is titled Rosenrot (Red Rose). It is even more immense than 2004's Reise Reise, and goes even further by expanding Rammstein's already bountiful palette to broader hues. Rosenrot may actually surprise those with preconceived ideas of what Rammstein sound like. This time they've taken inspiration from German literature to produce a heavy metal fairy tale that combines the classic story of Snow White with Goethe's Heidenroslein (Rose on the Heath).

Rosenrot is full of surprises

It's music, which unites the beautiful with the ugly as subtle string arrangements, and ethereal noises vie for attention against distorted vocals and raging electric guitars, which sound like they've been muted with a wet towel. The overall effect is haunting, sometimes demanding but nearly always rewarding. There are all your usual Rammstein goodies, of course. Hilf Mir broods misty and coniferous before the storms do their great rendering asunder about and above, punctuated by deft piano tinkles. Feuer Und Wasser, meanwhile, makes great use of the dynamism of the impassioned speech. Track Mann Gegen Mann roughly translates as 'man against man' and is a song about a homosexual lover's inner conflict. Opening with a deep, dark bass line and some high-pitched snare beats, it sounds like an industrial rock work of brilliance, tinged with some synth and freaky elfish wails. After the flute intro of Wo Bist Du (Where Are You) Till Lindemann sings about love but on a background of distorted guitars and Nine Inch Nails style industrial drum fills. More surprises were just a track away as Stirb Nicht Vor Mir (Don't Die before I do) got underway. A minute or so into the song with its slow, melodic acoustic guitars, we hear a familiar sounding female vocal. Which is none other than Sharleen Spiteri from Texas. And track number nine Te Quiero Puta is sung completely in Spanish. This song is full of sexual tension and has some more female vocals in the form of Carmen Zapata, an award winning Spanish actress and choir singer. Rosenrot closes with the simply titled Ein Lied (A Song). A delicate organ joins the mournful guitar here as Till sings in his theatrical, narrative voice.

Rammstein's music stands powerful and clear, a massive, rusting consonant

"Feuer", "wasser", "liebe" - with a touch of "benzin" as a concession to modernity - Rammstein's lyrical fare is quite literally elemental, making it universal in such a way that doesn't require more than a passing knowledge of German to be comprehensible. Moreover this simplicity of approach allows Rammstein's music to stand powerful and clear, a massive, rusting consonant around which Till Lindemann's ever-developing throaty vocalizations wrap themselves. Those simpletons who deride German as a harsh, guttural language devoid of beauty would do well to pay heed to Rammstein. On Rosenrot they return magnificent and strangely inspirational, much like the prow of the ice-bound ship on the cover of the album. Steely, slightly arcane yet proudly rising above a sea of indifferent and navel-gazing music from many other European bands.