Album Review – Rammstein / Rammstein (2019)

A magnificent lecture in Neue Deutsche Härte from the bottom of the flaming hearts of the pioneers of the genre.

Since the band’s inception in 1994 in the stunning German city of Berlin, Neue Deutsche Härte six-man institution Rammstein has been shaking the foundations of the earth with their unparalleled fusion of classic Industrial Metal and contemporary Heavy Metal, all spiced up of course by their controversial lyrics (most of the time in their mother tongue German), their industrial-inspired attire and their incendiary live performances. And it was just like that from their debut album Herzeleid, released in 1995, until their 2009 release Liebe Ist Für Alle Da, before the band went on an unprecedented hiatus that left their fans wondering if the band would ever get back in action to crush our senses with their wicked creations.

Fortunately for all of us, fans of the crazy and electrifying music blasted by lead vocalist Till Lindemann, lead guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe, rhythm guitarist Paul Landers, bassist Oliver Riedel, keyboardist Christian “Flake” Lorenz and drummer Christoph Schneider (a lineup that has remained unchanged throughout the band’s existence, by the way), Rammstein have just returned now in 2019 better than ever with their untitled seventh studio album, also known by many as Rammstein, their first studio album in a decade, bringing to our avid ears everything we’ve learned to love in their music through the years and more. Featuring a minimalist and captivating artwork by Rocket & Wink, the band’s brand new masterpiece offers an amalgamation of their past, present and future, with elements from all of their albums such as Sehnsucht and Mutter, without sounding repetitive or outdated; quite the contrary, the entire album simply rocks.

The album couldn’t have started in a more brilliant way than with their newborn anthem Deutschland (or “Germany” in their mother tongue), bringing forward the perfect fusion of electronic and metal music right from the very first second. Its backing vocals will definitely mesmerize you, while Mr. Lindemann leads his industrial horde in this passionate ode to their homeland. Moreover, Christian is also sensational with his keys and synths, and I’m not even going to talk about the song’s official video, which is in my opinion one of the best videos ever made in the history of music. Radio is another classic and powerful depiction of what Neue Deutsche Härte is all about, with Richard and Paul slashing their strings beautifully and putting us to dance together with the band, also featuring a chorus perfect for singing along with them even if your German is extremely rudimentary. Then it’s time for The Academic Choir and the Symphony Orchestra of the National Television and Radio Company of Belarus, Minsk to add a touch of epicness to the bold and violent Industrial Metal tune Zeig Dich (“show yourself”), where Richard, Paul and Oliver are on fire with their stringed weapons, while Christoph pounds his drums just the way we like it and Mr. Lindemann is once again flawless with his demented vocals.

Ausländer (“foreigner”) is by far the most disco-dancing song of the album, boosted by the band’s trademark riffs and beats and its acid and fun official video (which is another work-of-art). As a matter of fact, Rammstein are so good in what they do they’re capable of making metalheads enjoy dance music, and pay good attention to the song’s lyrics as they’re sung in several languages like French, Italian and English. It’s time to get heavier and more immoral than ever (something those German guys know how to do to perfection) with Sex, with Oliver and Christoph dictating the song’s violent rhythm. In the end, you’ll either crack your neck banging your head or have some wild sex while listening to it, both being highly recommended activities, of course. And the Belarusian orchestra returns for another round of majestic sounds in Puppe (“doll”), the most obscure and vile of all songs, with the vocals by Mr. Lindemann exhaling anger, fear and anguish while Christoph shows no mercy for his drums.

The romantic and enfolding Was Ich Liebe (“what I love”) is another great song showcasing rumbling bass lines, rhythmic beats and the always whimsical keys by Christian, and by far the one with the most melodic guitar lines of the entire album; whereas in the touching Diamant (“diamond”) the music remains utterly ominous while Mr. Lindemann darkly recites its lyrics, feeling as melancholic, beautiful and dense as it can be, or in other words, it’s absolutely awesome. Then Christian takes the lead in the modern Industrial Metal song Weit Weg (“far away”), where a delicate but at the same time potent background provides all Mr. Lindemann needs to thrive on vocals, with the riffs and solos by Richard and Paul bringing even more electricity to the overall result, followed by Tattoo, which kind of sounds taken from one of their previous albums. Put differently, it’s pure Neue Deutsche Härte tailored for the band’s diehard fans, with Christoph hammering our heads violently with his unstoppable, mechanized beats, while the song’s guitar riffs will cut your skin deep. Hence, I would simply love to listen to those Teutonic metallers playing this neck-breaking tune live. And lastly, Oliver makes the earth tremble with his bass punches in Hallomann (“Helloman” / “Announcer”), closing the album on a high note with the music flowing smoothly until its climatic and serene ending.

In a nutshell, anything I say about the brand new opus by the one and only Rammstein won’t be enough to describe its density, depth and energy. We’re facing the best rock and metal album of the year, my friends, there’s no doubt about that, and you can enjoy each and every song from such distinct release directly from the band’s official YouTube channel or on Spotify, and of course buy your copy of this multi-layered feast of top-of-the-line Neue Deutsche Härte from your favorite retailer by clicking HERE. As a matter of fact, I guess the best words that can be used to depict the music found in Rammstein are the ones already sung by Mr. Lindemann & Co. in the opening track of the album. “Deutschland / Mein Herz in Flammen / Will dich lieben und verdammen / Deutschland / Dein Atem kalt / So jung / Und doch so alt / Deutschland!”

Best moments of the album: Deutschland, Radio, Zeig Dich, Puppe and Tattoo.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Universal Music

Track listing
1. Deutschland 5:23
2. Radio 4:37
3. Zeig Dich 4:15
4. Ausländer 3:51
5. Sex 3:56
6. Puppe 4:33
7. Was Ich Liebe 4:29
8. Diamant 2:34
9. Weit Weg 4:20
10. Tattoo 4:11
11. Hallomann 4:11

Band members
Till Lindemann – lead vocals
Richard Z. Kruspe – lead guitar, backing vocals
Paul Landers – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Oliver Riedel – bass guitar
Christian “Flake” Lorenz – keyboards, samples, synthesizers
Christoph Schneider – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
The Academic Choir and the Symphony Orchestra of the National Television and Radio Company of Belarus, Minsk – strings, choir on “Zeig Dich” and “Puppe”
Meral Al-Mer – backing vocals on “Deutschland” and “Tattoo”
Carla Bruhn – backing vocals on “Hallomann”

Album Review – Megadeth / Dystopia (2016)

And the dystopian world portrayed in the brand new album by the iconic Dave Mustaine and his Thrash Metal army is beyond awesome.

Rating2

megadeth_dystopiaDys·to·pi·a
\disˈtōpēə\
noun. An imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.

It’s this hopeless but unfortunately actual view of our decaying society that inspired the one and only metal lord Dave Mustaine and his Thrash/Speed Metal infantry Megadeth to compose Dystopia, the fifteenth studio album in their magnificent career and, in my opinion, their absolute best since their 2009 album Endgame. The reason behind that? Well, Dystopia is a rip-roaring feast of lancinating riffs, crushing beats and spectacularly austere lyrics, all led by one of the most influential, unrelenting and technical musicians in the history of Heavy Metal. In other words, Mr. Dave Mustaine nailed it once again for our total delectation.

Let’s say that this remarkable achievement also comes partially from the band’s  two new members, the awesome Brazilian guitarist Kiko Loureiro (Angra), who took the six-strings from the also amazing Chris Broderick, and especially the insane American drummer Chris Adler (Lamb of God), replacing longtime drummer Shawn Drover. While Kiko added a lot of feeling to Megadeth’s distinct guitar lines, Chris simply came smashing everything and everyone with his groovy and bestial technique, and the final result is what every single “MegaFan” in the world was expecting from this iconic band from the United States.

The smooth vocals by Jordanian singer Farah Siraj kick off Mustaine’s dystopian world in the magnificently trenchant chant The Threat is Real, a killer traditional Megadeth song with the trademark piercing riffs by Dave and his always politicized lyrics (“See the burnished images / Of a crest fallen nation see / Violent conditioning, cause the nature of the enemy / You’re terminal lack of vision / Blinded, I see no light / A chronic lack of perspective / Their cancer now eats us alive”). I can’t wait to see this played live, and don’t forget to check its awesome animated video because Vic Rattlehead gets his revenge in the official video (including references to some of their old albums) for the following tune, the superb Dystopia, with highlights to its strong feeling of desolation and its thoughtful lyrics (“Demoralized and overmastered people think / The quickest way to end a war is lose / Dictatorship ends starting with tyrannicide / You must destroy the cancer at its root”). Not only its initial riff is outstanding, but its chorus is so catchy I’m sure it will be one of the best moments of their future live performances.

Fatal Illusion, which brings lyrics about a person who is a misfit in society and ends up getting taken before the judicial system (“Lost inside the system, locked away without a key / No one will ever miss a menace to society / A gross lack of potential, bad decisions made in spite / A touchy hairpin trigger and such a wasted life”), clearly showcases the enormous positive impact Kiko and Chris had on the overall result of the album in terms of groove and complexity; while Death from Within, another dark and bitter composition by “MegaDave”, gets closer to what he did in albums such as The System Has Failed and United Abominations. Moreover, Chris is simply pounding his drums with endless anger, in a classy exhibit of how good heavy drumming is supposed to be. And in Bullet to the Brain, an eerie intro morphs into a heavy and psychological tune, blending old school and modern Megadeth while focusing on the guitar riffs and solos by Dave and Kiko, with Dave providing an excellent chorus to be screamed along with him.

megadeth 2016Post American World is perhaps the darkest of all songs, with many elements from their classic “Symphony of Destruction” added to its musicality. Dave sends a strong message to his countrymen, whereas bassist David Ellefson keeps delivering his precise and thunderous bass lines, just as expected from such an amazing musician. Then guest singer Farah Siraj returns with her gentle voice in Poisonous Shadows, a pensive and melancholic aria that will please most fans of the band where Kiko Loureiro displays some of his abilities on the piano, and guest musician Charlie Judge takes care of the orchestrations amidst the song’s gripping riffs.

The beautiful instrumental tune Conquer or Die! sets the stage for the heavy as hell Lying in State, my favorite of all tracks by far. This kick-ass chant will penetrate your mind and soul and crush you mercilessly, with Chris and David demolishing everything that crosses their path with their boisterous drums and resonant bass lines, respectively. Needless to say how violent and acid the lyrics are in this awesome Thrash Metal anthem, right? Anyway, in the high-octane thrashy tune The Emperor, the biggest question is who the lucky person being “honored” by its lyrics is (“You look so perfect, but everybody knows / Their petrified to say the emperor has no clothes / So bloody perfect, but everybody knows / Their just so petrified, the emperor has no clothes”). Even if you have no clue about the answer, just enjoy this straightforward Megadeth tune, where Dave steals the spotlight with yet another intense performance. And closing Dystopia in solid fashion, Megadeth offer us their flawless cover version for Foreign Policy, one of the biggest hits by Fear, a Hardcore Punk band from Los Angeles, California (take a listen at the original version HERE).

In a nutshell, if there were any fans still a bit skeptical about the direction the music by Megadeth was taking after the good but controversial Super Collider was released in 2013, I’m pretty sure their fears are completely gone with Dystopia. As aforementioned, Dave Mustaine didn’t disappoint at all, providing his legion of loyal admirers another marvelous chapter in the band’s history. Thus, it’s sad to realize we’re actually living in a dystopia, where everything surrounding us seems to be tending towards a tragic ending. However, at least the dystopian world created by the iconic Dave Mustaine and his Thrash Metal army is indeed beyond awesome and will surely make our lives less miserable for years to come.

Best moments of the album: The Threat is Real, Dystopia, Lying in State and The Emperor.

Worst moments of the album: None, of course. This is Megadeth at their finest.

Released in 2016 Universal Music

Track listing
1. The Threat is Real 4:22
2. Dystopia 5:00
3. Fatal Illusion 4:16
4. Death from Within 4:48
5. Bullet to the Brain 4:29
6. Post American World 4:25
7. Poisonous Shadows 6:02
8. Conquer or Die! (Instrumental) 3:33
9. Lying in State 3:34
10. The Emperor 3:54
11. Foreign Policy (Fear cover) 2:28 

Japanese edition bonus track
12. Me Hate You 3:44

Spotify bonus track
12. Melt the Ice Away (Budgie cover) 3:28

iTunes & Best Buy edition bonus tracks
8. Look Who’s Talking 4:14
12. Last Dying Wish 3:49

Band members
Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Kiko Loureiro – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, piano on “Poisonous Shadows”
David Ellefson – bass guitar, backing vocals
Chris Adler – drums

Additional musicians
Farah Siraj – guest vocals on “The Threat is Real” and “Poisonous Shadows”
Charlie Judge – orchestral arrangements on “Poisonous Shadows”
Miles Doleac – voice-over in “Conquer or Die!”
Steve Wariner – steel guitar
Chris Rodriguez – backing vocals