Like AC/DC, Rammstein have built a career around one incredibly distinctive sound. Since their formation in 1994, the German heavyweights have blended crushing industrial instrumentals with snarling vocals, an ambitious sense of grandeur with just a touch of flamboyant ridiculousness. You hear a Rammstein song and know exactly who it is.
After a decade without a new record, the six-piece returned in 2019 with their ‘Untitled‘ seventh album – 11 tracks that showed off that recognisable legacy while also adding a touch of electro-pop to their nu-metal-meets-hard-rock sound. Its release was followed by news of their first ever North American stadium tour, but COVID had other ideas. Instead of breaking new ground stateside, the band headed back into the studio to do it there. ‘Zeit’ is unmistakably a Rammstein record, but it’s unlike anything we’ve heard from the group before.
Sure, ominous goth-rock anthem ‘Giftig’ and the groove-driven nightmare of ‘Zick Zack’ are exactly what we’ve come to expect from Rammstein, but that doesn’t dull their edges in the slightest. Elsewhere, the menacing stomp of ‘OK’ blends the theatrics of 2019’s ‘Deutschland’ with the playful intensity of their 1997 classic ‘Du Hast’.
Lyrically, as well, ‘Zeit’ makes sure to cover the same lusty antics that will keep the band waving around inflatable cocks at their live show for years to (ahem) come. ‘OK’ is about safe sex (“One does not stick, stick inside without condom”) while it’s pretty obvious what ‘Dicke Titten’ (or ‘Bit Tits’) is about.
However, the aching ‘Meine Tränen’ is about the importance of men showing their emotions, there’s communal celebration at the heart of the moody ‘Armee Der Tristen’ and the closing ‘Adieu’ is a thundering, moving ballad about death, loss and despair. It’s not the only softie on ‘Zeit’ either, with ‘Schwarz’ trading in bruising guitar riffs for delicate piano while the title track flickers between hammering blows and quiet cinema as vocalist Till Lindemann sings about how quickly life turns to death with a touching vulnerability.
It’s not just that newfound delicacy that Rammstein brings to the table with their eighth album, either. The whispered ‘Lügen’ starts slow but soon erupts into a hyperactive pop metal number complete with heavily auto-tuned vocals that sounds better than it has any right to be. It’s not enough of a leap to speak to a whole new audience but it’ll definitely piss off some corners of the Rammstein faithful. The band have always enjoyed pushing people’s buttons, after all.
‘Zeit’ might be a more reflective album than previous Rammstein records, but it’s still an energetic, swaggering beast. Nearly 30 years into their career, the band remain as ambitious and as fiery as ever with their nightmarish, industrial rock sounding as daring as ever.
Release date: April 29
Record label: Universal