MetalMonth – How I Discovered . . . Rammstein

Richard and Judy, that’s how! Well, sort of, indirectly. I have a vague memory of them speaking highly of Vin Diesel who, at the time, was rampaging through several un-named countries in the guise of XXX. A bald headed human bomb with a voice deeper than the Marianas Trench.

And who better to kick off XXX, before everything else kicked off, than a fire-breathing bunch of demons with a goggle-eyed, mad-mohicaned lead singer. I had to wait for the end credits to discover the band in the opening sequence was Rammstein, but to be honest I was no wiser.

My first encounters with Rammstein came in the Upper Cretaceous period, i.e. pre-youtube, pre-broadband, pre-access-to-anything-foreign (unless it shamed itself on Eurovision). Accessing Rammstein’s music involved a lot of weird cack being downloaded instead of the mp3 for Links 2 3 4, or Sonne, or any of their other songs.

But when an actual song did come down the line successfully it was worth the wait. Sung in German, dense powerchords competing with Till Lindemann’s psychotic grumbling vocals, Rammstein provided a much-needed change from the gristly rubbish of Guns n Roses and Limp Bizkit. This wasn’t so much nu-metal, more like nu-thinking.

With Rammstein you either have to forget lyrical appreciation or learn German. And when you do translate some of the lyrics you’re in for a surprise. Mein Teil, for example. (Look it up!) Rammstein are the pantomime act children wouldn’t enjoy, the cartoon characters Disney would lock away. They could really only come from a group of people locked behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany during their formative years.

Sense of humour? There’s one there somewhere, but you won’t find anything similar at the end of Blackpool Pier. It’s a grotesque form of self-parody; rich fat men, bottom-spanked miners, Flake being hammered and beaten by Lindemann in a Germanic re-enactment of Basil Fawlty and Manuel. I could go on, but I’d probably disappear up an orifice because you’re not supposed to analyse comedy.

With a rock band you’re supposed to analyse the music and Rammstein’s music is as dense and heavy as one of them neutron stars you can place on a spoon, but then not be able to lift it up. You can also analyse the image, but it would probably drive you nuts. Where other bands adopt a sort of fake or faux monster persona there’s something disturbingly genuine about Rammstein’s monsterousness, as if they’re not aware of what they look like.

I saw them live in Manchester and in a moment of idiotic tempting of fate deliberately wore a white sweatshirt in anticipation of being showered with blood. How could I know it would be my own blood after an accidental encounter with someone’s elbow.

It happened during the song Feuer Frei, the first song I ever heard by them. Quite a coincidence really. The circle of life and all that.

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