Mutter

Rammstein

Motor Music / Universal Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/27/2001

With drool practically trickling down my cheek, I embraced into my capitalist, greedy arms one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year so far: the new Rammstein album called Mutter (Mother). Well, after a seemingly endless four-year wait since the last studio album (which was also their breakthrough in North America), Sehnsucht in 1997, Mutter delivers on all accounts and then some.

Sehnsucht was a solid effort and contained numerous superb songs, but the album had a tendency to overstay its welcome a bit because the last three or four songs did not particularly stand out in any way. That is not the case with Mutter. The flow of the album is excellent, starting with a bombastic opening number, a grand epic in the middle, and a solemn, melancholy parting at the end, with oodles of teutonic explosive aggression and typically gloomy German self examination in between.

I just simply cannnot get enough of Rammstein's music...it's the ultimate marriage of crushingly violent, primal aggression and wistful sentimental melodicism with it's roots in the classical German romantic era of the 19th century with its extremely Wagnerian overtones. It seems like such a paradox, but they pull it off brilliantly; each song has an extremely catchy chorus without sounding commercial at all, and these fantastic melodies are embedded beneath an unbelievably powerful layer of thundering rhythms and monstrous guitar riffs that pound you into submission, accompanied by the ever present electronic sounds and keyboards.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

What makes Mutter their finest hour to date is the fact that the band sounds tighter and more confident in actual musicianship, development of melodic ideas, arrangements, and lyric writing. What surprised me even more was that of the 11 tracks, none of them are filler as opposed to a good three or four last time around. Sure, there's not a great deal of stylistic diversity or experimentation, but Rammstein have an unmistakably distinctive sound all their own which they have perfected and refined on this release.

The sheer blitzkrieg force of intensity cannot be ignored, and the songs do not become repetitive due to the presence of a plethora of massively engaging hooks combined with a dramatic delivery that make each track unique and a joy to listen to. It reminds me of the scene in A Clockwork Orange where Alex beats the stuffing out a hapless victim while cheerfully humming the theme from Singing In The Rain.

While the electonic element may be a tad more restrained and subtle this time around, this in no way weakens the overall work. From the prominent orchestral riffs on the bombastic opener "Mein Herz Brennt" (My Heart Burns), to the military marching sounds on "Links 2-3-4" (Left 2-3-4), to the grandeur of "Mutter" (Mother), to the anarchy of "Adios", to the haunting Depeche Modian album closing ballad "Nebel" (Haze, or Fog), the album is guaranteed to entertain on multiple levels.

The lead vocals as usual are one of Rammstein's most distinctive trademarks, raging from a gruff, robotic SS Officer type delivery one minute to gentle, soft, and sorrowful the next. Till Lindemann really shines throughout in this regard, showing us his versatility. Seeing how I've begun the name dropping, it would be unfair not to mention the other players: Dual lead guitars supplied by Richard Kruspe and Paul Landers, bass by Oliver Riedel, drums by Christoph Schneider, and keyboards/electronic programming by Flake Lorenz.

For me personally there is also the added bonus that I can understand all the lyrics as well, and let me say that they range from Grimm-like chilling to downright depressing most of the time. Usually they deal with lost love, despair, eternal sorrow, erroneous guilt, vengeance, atrocity, doomed romance, lonliness, hate, perversion, and death...happy stuff eh! It's all very typically German. There are many recurring mentions of flames, flesh, blood, and mothers. Weird stuff, but the lyrics are written much more expertly than on Sehnsucht, which went a bit overboard in the perverted sleaze department.

In conclusion, I highly recommend this record to everyone, especially people who like their earlier output, but also anyone who has an appreciation for aggressive music, be it of the metal or industrial kind, and yes, even opera. Even though we are only four months into the year, in my opinion Mutter is already a frontrunner for best album of 2001.

Rating: A-

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© 2001 Roland Fratzl and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Motor Music / Universal Records, and is used for informational purposes only.