Rammstein is a band that operates with a brutal efficiency. No one is ever going to accuse them of being a technical band, or a band that could be considered groundbreaking. They play to their strengths, and there's nothing wrong with that because that's what I love about them. All I need from Rammstein is chunky riffs, anxiety inducing synths, and half sung/half spoken vocals from Till Lindemann that send me to the krankenhaus. This record has all of that, so I cant go out of my way to say it isn't a good record. It's just not a great one.
So...in preparation for this release, I went back and listened to their entire discography. I was eerily curious because to be completely honest with you, I've only ever heard two Rammstein albums front to back (2001's Mutter, and 2009's Liebe ist für alle da), and part of me wanted to see what I had been missing. This isn't a band that I had a serious connection to, I have no fond memories of them besides hearing that one song that was in that one Vin Diesel flick, so going through every previous release was kinda fun! There is a ton of killer shit buried in Rammstein's catalog, and I'm pretty sure I ended up learning more German from that than I ever did in school.
But I also went back in time because I really fucking hated their previous record (2019's Untitled record) and I didn't want to go in to this one with the bad taste of that one in my mouth, y'know? Clean slate and all that.
Ok, lets get into it!
The record opens with the song "Armee der Tristen", a very synth heavy song with a barebones riff behind it that does a great job of setting the tone for the rest of the album. I found myself bobbing my head more than once when the chorus hit, I was pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, the following two songs really let me down. "Zeit", the title track, is a piano ballad-y song that would've been better off as the album closer, honestly. There was nothing that stood out to me, and every time I re-listened to the album I let out a groan when this came on. Its the fucking TITLE TRACK, y'know? There's a standard for those! And "Schwarz" to me just sounded like a B-side from the last record, it set off my fight or flight, I'm not a fan.
I was really expecting more let downs, but honestly, the triple threat of the songs "Giftig", "Zick Zack", and "OK" was EXACTLY what I needed. These songs fuck! This is all classic Rammstein, from top to bottom. These are the songs I'd show to someone who had never heard of them, but wanted an introduction. Also, I have to hand it to the production on this album, because every song sounds impeccably mixed and is incredibly crisp. These three tracks prove that these old dogs can still make hits.
I initially didn't care much for the song "Meine Tranen", there was something about it that I just couldn't put my finger on, but the more I heard it the less I noticed what I didn't like and more on what I did. It really grew on me, and by the time I was ready to write this review, I was singing along to the chorus every time. "Angst" on the other hand, was immediately awesome, with a super chunky riff and killer drums, and has one of Till Lindemann's best vocal performances on the record, especially in the back end of the track. Like, holy shit.
The last third of the record was very much hit or miss for me. While "Dicke Titten" was easily the heaviest song with the best performances from the band overall, I really just thought that "Lugen" was largely forgettable and could've been a leftover track from the previous release that they decided to toss in to save time. It was just super bland and flavorless, like eating while you have Covid. However, credit where credit is due, the album closer "Adieu" is beautiful, haunting, and it really feels like a send off song. If the band (all nearing their 60's) decided to hang it up, this is the best way track to leave it with.
This is a really good record with a lot of high points, but enough low points for me that really prevent it from being great. Way better than the Untitled record though, that thing fucking sucked.....