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Waidmanns Heil / Liebe ist für alle da
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What is there not to love about Rammstein? Since 1994, this twelve-legged Teutonic rock beast has ridden roughshod over the European charts with their unique blend of gargantuan riffing, industrial grind and dark humour. That's not to mention their dizzyingly ridiculous live shows where fire, urine and surfing across the audience in military issue inflatable boats augments their sonic assault. Yet while they've acquired a sizeable cult following in the UK, for some reason they've failed to cross over. One suspects it's in part Germanophobia, or the Anglo-Saxon distaste for the dark and industrial. Whatever, could Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da be the record that breaks down the barricades?
As a statement of intent, you couldn't do much better than Rammlied, which opens with choral voices that are suddenly subsumed by gargantuan slabs of guitar and a double syllable-emphasised "Ramm-stein", uttered by Beelzebub with halitosis - it's a significant step forward from last album, Rosenrot. Rammstein are no strangers to high- and low-concept arch pranksterism to make a point, and while the pornographic video to Pussy might distract from the fact that it's the weakest track on the album, there's something curiously playful and subversive about everything Rammstein do. And this lack of respect for boundaries is not merely evident in their cheap deployment of naked flesh.
There's the multi-lingual lyricism, for starters (German, English and French), and the appropriation of US metal or overwrought European traditional song (especially on Fruhling in Paris). Over all this are Till Lindemann's vocals, which range from bark to croon to emotive whine. That's the overall picture, within which songs are juxtaposed to delicious ends. So where Waidmanns Heil begins with exultant horns, Haifisch features a jaunty synth that's straight out of Violator-era Depeche Mode. The crooning Fruhling crops up shortly later, only to be crushed by the guttural Wiener Blut and the rock widdling-meets-prog of the title track.
Rock is at its best when confrontational, subversive, curiously camp and bold, which is why Rammstein are currently one of the most important bands in the genre. Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da is a beautiful, preposterous, ambitious record that makes the likes of Muse appear as hapless amateurs doodling on school scrapbooks, and the American metal aristocracy, unimaginative boors. More importantly, and most interesting of all, it's arguably the most 'European' record you're likely to hear all year. And who wouldn't wave a flag to that?