The big review: Rammstein – Zeit

Tick, tick… BOOM! Rammstein veer between introspective slow-burn and disco inferno on engrossing eighth album Zeit.

The big review: Rammstein – Zeit
Sam Law

There’s much to read into in the title of Rammstein’s excellent eighth album.

Where 2019’s untitled offering was presented on its own bombastic merit – 11 songs that were quintessentially Rammstein – its (relatively) quick-fire follow up is boldly labelled with the German word for ‘Time’. After two-and-a-bit-years of lockdown that severely curtailed touring for that last release and, at one point, saw frontman Till Lindemann admitted into intensive care (with non-COVID conditions), allusions to emptying hourglasses and the fragility of life are hardly surprising. More intriguing is the tacit acknowledgement from these middle-aged heavyweights that even their inimitable formula must evolve to avoid stagnation: the Neue Deutsche Härte ain’t so neue any more…

Longevity is about the marathon, not the sprint, and the pacing here is key. All downbeat high-drama, Armee Der Tristen (Army Of The Dreary) could never have come from anyone else, but beneath the piston-pumping riffage and massive ‘KOMM MIT’ chorus hook, there’s a muted world-weariness that makes it a curious choice for album-opener. The title-tack delivers five minutes of mid-paced melancholia, geared around a faintly throbbing piano line and Till’s complex, contemplative lyricism. ‘Dem Ende treiben wir entgegen / Keine Hast, nur vorwärts streben / Am Ufer winkt Unendlichkeit,’ he laments - ‘We drift towards the end / No rush, just driving forward / Infinity beckons on the shore.’ When Schwarz unfurls as another sombre, stately showpiece, while it’s impossible to argue with the quality of Rammstein’s songcraft, you can’t help but wonder whether they’ve forgotten how to party.

Giftig confirms, unequivocally, that they have not. A short, stomping mix of spring-loaded six-strings and rave-ready synths in the vein of Du Hast, it feels all the more impactful for the deliberately-paced run-in. Zick Zack deploys disco beats amongst the heavy-duty riffs for its tongue-in-tightened-cheek critique of plastic surgery and the celebrity obsession with eternal youth. OK is a certified barn-burner, boasting the catchiness of Links 2 3 4, but knottier lyrics, groovier guitars and the kind of massive choral outro of which Ghost would be proud.

Where their 2019 opus – the album featuring a track simply titled Sex – felt like Rammstein at their most knowing, Zeit finds them at their most self-reflective. In a song like Angst, with its familiar ass-shaking rhythms and puff-chested delivery, there is a need to give the fans what they want, but also a willingness to lay bare their darkest fears. Meine Tränen (My Tears) and Lügen (Lie) see honest feelings bleed more openly into stirring sound, with the former’s operatic melodrama counterpointed by the latter’s meld of music-box ambience, vocoder-laden spoken-word delivery and passages of scourging blackgaze. Even the gloriously percussive Dicke Titten (literally, Big Boobs) is less interested in the pornographic provocation fans have come to expect than the warm embrace of a really heaving bosom.

There’s little warmth in outstanding closer Adieu, mind. Packing synths and steely keys that could’ve been lifted from latter-day Nine Inch Nails, moments of slab-thick industrial, and a chilling chorus that subtly subverts The Sound Of Music (‘Adieu, goodbye, auf Wiedersehen!’), it is a chilling death-waltz, and perhaps the ultimate parting-shot from these Teutonic titans. Thankfully, though, there appears to be no danger of Rammstein checking out. This introspective, incendiary, searingly intelligent set of songs finds them as emotionally invested as they’ve ever been.

Verdict: 4/5

For Fans Of: Rob Zombie, KMFDM, Ministry

Zeit is released on April 29 via Spinefarm

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