Typical. You wait all decade for a new Rammstein album, and then two show up at once. Or, at least, a double-dose of Till Lindemann is served up, oily and steaming, a mere six months apart. And, on face value, there is at times not much to differentiate Herr Lindemann’s work with co-conspirator Peter Tägtgren in this eponymous outfit and his day job: a sense of musical roboticism, powerfully efficient metal, a very thick sense of darkness, and baroque, sweeping piano dirges. And this time, it’s even all in German, unlike the hilariously end-of-the-pier, English-language solo debut Skills In Pills from 2015. But if that’s where you stop looking, then you are missing a great deal of the picture. For here, there is a sense of a man cutting loose, of fewer people making decisions and, thus, fewer compromises than in the famously ultra-democratic, all-or-nothing Rammstein. It is a far more experimental side to Till than we’ve seen before, even when marching under his own banner.
The most notable and unavoidable difference between F & M and Skills In Pills is that language change. And at first, in truth, it’s a bit of a shame. Part of what made that album such a riot was Till waggling his eyebrows like a Teutonic Sid James as he sang about how ‘My rod is stiff’ on Fish On, or how as a male stripper his audience, ‘Put money in my hat’ as he ‘Makes their husbands so upset’ on the hilarious Cowboy. However, the more subtle output here actually benefits from the mystery of being in German (if you don’t speak German, anyway). Not for nothing is Till so regarded as an artist, to the extent that he is actually able to turn his own enigma into an artform. And when you do finally peel back the curtain and get the translations to find the man declaring his love for food on Allesfresser (Omnivore), or extolling the importance of sleep to make the pains of today go away and bring a brighter tomorrow on Schlaf ein (Go To Sleep), it’s somehow even more twisted and darkly poetic than his work with Rammstein is.