It’s 16 years since the Avalanches’ era-defining ‘Since I Left You’. How can a follow-up that took so long sound so meh?
Rammstein : London Brixton Academy
METAL! METAL! METAL!
The lights dim. Keyboard gimp Flake Lorenz scuttles onstage and starts bashing out the squalling riff to 'Sonne'. As he does so, one of five industrial turbines suspended high above the stage starts to descend amid a screech of hydraulics. On it stands enigmantic leader of the Rammstein nation, Till Lindemann. Like a modern-day John Lydon after six months on the WWF circuit, he prowls around the stage with a deliberate sexual menace, growling indecipherably in German. Fully convinced of his followers' supplication to the six-strong band's tech-metal onslaught, he then burns his hand off.
The crowd, primal to start with, go ape. Pyrotechnics abound. Twenty-foot flame-throwers shoot across the auditorium; lightning bolts appear to hit the stage. At one point, Till, having lead the hapless Flake onto a vaulting horse by a lead, strips off his victim's shorts and simulates sodomy with (one hopes) an imitation phallus. He then sprays the first ten rows with top-grade Rammstein spunk and drinks a little for himself. It kind of makes you glad you didn't bring your mum along.
For all its brutalist trappings, Rammstein's music avoids the worst horrors of nu-metal courtesy of symphonic euro-strings and a yearning undercurrent. Till could be singing the names of different kinds of detergent for all we know, but you can't help but be moved by it. Even if he is covered head-to-toe in flames and wearing red night-vision goggles.
And at their peak, as on an epic 'Du Hast' and a final rip through Depeche Mode's 'Stripped', Rammstein even manage to share the sense-shredding pervy noir of Prodigy with the eyebrow-singeing showmanship of Archaos. If they weren't already, they'd be massive. And you wouldn't bet against them on 'Scrapheap Challenge', either.
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