FIRST IMPRESSION Volume 32: Rammstein – Herzeleid

Posted: March 20, 2013 by kingcrimsonprog in First Impressions Articles

FI 32

FI 32

This is the thirty-second entry of my blog series ‘First Impressions.’ In each entry of the series I write about discovering an influential or genre-classic album for the first time and then write about that experience in a semi-planned, semi-stream of consciousness manner that is less helpful than a traditional album-review, but which does contain more personal flavour.

I prefer my reviews to be serious and informative. ‘First Impressions’ allow for a more director’s commentary approach. I can be silly and talk bollox, or make points that only a handful of people will understand. Usually I will deliver insights into my history with similar music as well as into how my mind works and how both of these things change over time. You will have to either possess a fairly detailed understanding of Rock and Metal history and Subgenre conventions or have a second tab open at Wikipedia to fully follow every single point that I make, but don’t let that put you off…I’m not honestly expecting you to know every single riff or tone I’ll point out off by heart.

If you want your own First Impressions article done, just suggest it in the comments. I’ll give anything a shot.

So. Rammstein. Their genre would be Industrial Metal I guess.

My experience with Industrial is pretty minimal I’ll admit. I don’t know ANY Industrial Music outside of metal, no Throbbing Gristle or whatever. I’m not well versed in Skinny Puppy. I am unsure of who actually is an Industrial Metal band, since every band I’ve seen associated with it, such as Marilyn Manson, is often called ‘not really an Industrial band. Its kind of like, Industrial is more of a feel than a genre.

Loads of bands from other scenes, like Fear Factory, Spineshank, Powerman 5000 etc have an industrial tinge. I’ve heard that. I’ve heard Morbid Angel add a bit on their new album. I’ve heard Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson who are both said to be too unique and not really industrial. I’ve heard five or six Rob Zombie and White Zombie songs, but it always sounded more like Nu Metal to my untrained ear.

I have heard three Ministry albums, maybe one KMFDM song, and then two Rammstein albums.

When Rammstein started to break big in the UK, especially when ‘Sonne’ was their newest single, I got into the band. I bought ‘Mutter,’ and a ‘Sesnucht’ which I liked a bit, I listened to them fairly often for about a year but I kind of give up on them altogether after that. Not because they were bad, but just because I hadn’t got any interest in them anymore. I never tried any of their newer albums, I saw the singles on music TV but they didn’t make me want to explore any further.

I always wanted to get ‘Live Aus Berlin’ but never got around to it. Although, I’ve just received it as a gift this week (Glory be to Magnum) along with most of Rammstein’s back catalogue. So now begins a big binge on Rammstein.

I’ve been asked to do a First Impressions on their 1995 debut album Herzeleid, or as I’ve always assumed it was called because I never took the time to actually look at the title, ‘Hertz Field.’

[Play]

The album begins with ‘Wollt Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen’ Its got a decent, kind of heavy riff. Its mid-tempo, and its kind of repetitive and hypnotic. The chorus is fun though, they sing the band name and the drumming changes pattern. At the three minute mark, it gets exciting. The song has a lot more umph. They do one of my favourite things in music, where the vocals continue going for about two seconds after all other music has been silenced. The fact that the drummer adds double kicks briefly at the end really makes it conclude perfectly. Good song.

The next song, ‘Der Meister’ bangs through the speakers with a very Dave Mustaine sounding riff, but then when the rest of the music comes in it couldn’t sound further from Megadeth. Some of the little touches are great. The bit with double-kicks sounds great and the very reverby simple drum fill which follows is gigantic, Bon Jovi worthy stuff. It was built for giant stadiums.

The song is a lot more diverse than the previous one. Its got a bit more going on. A weirder structure, Melodic parts and very videogame sounding keys. The drummer reminds me a lot of Powerman 5000 at times. Something about the production of the hi-hat. Again, very satisfying ending.

Next up, ‘Weisse Fleish’ which has an amazingly uplifting main riff, does more of that epic-stadium-simple-fill stuff. I notice, that it already has three stars in my iTunes, which means it must’ve come on during a shuffle-session at some stage and impressed me enough to get stars (so, second impression here, really). He does the singing over silence thing again. There’s a brilliant little solo and an extended version of what has to now be my favourite drum fill ever.

‘Asche Zu Asche’ is catchy as a bastard. It sounds like a computer game about Anthrax. Its main riff sounds like somebody trying to make Scott Ian fight Kung Lao. The bits when the wrist-riff isn’t going remind me a bit of Disturbed’s ‘The Game’ (which is a decent song, I heard it again recently after ignoring the band for about seven years). It has a Keyboard driven section that sounds like Super Metroid. Followed by a bit that sounds like 80s King Crimson. I think it goes on about 30 seconds too long, but it’s a very enjoyable song.

‘Seemann’ comes in next. It’s a bit of a change in direction. It reminds me a hel of a lot of modern Radiohead. I’ve never heard Till use that particular voice before, not even in other more ballady tracks. The songs reminds me of a little wooden row boat, on a sleepy riverbank full of chunky puppet moles in gas masks and evening jackets, shot in the style of ‘La Voyage Sur La Lune’ or whatever that film was called. I love how understated it is. Its kind of like the spider-man-is-having-me-for-dinner-tonight song that The Cure sing in the emotion it evokes from me. It sounds like a remorseful cannibal, who is in tears because he killed his best friend to survive, but knows it was the right thing to do because he’s the only one who can get the antidote to the public and save the world.

Next up – ‘Du Riechst So Gut’ which sounds Robotic. Its very much what you’d imagine Rammstein to sound like if you saw a picture of them and read a little informative description on their style. It has a kind of musical feel. It seems like a passage in a musical. Except not awful. Apart from one great keyboard section, its probably the least exciting song on the album so far. Not because its bad, but just because everything which preceded it was so good. The chorus however, is a good reminder of how Rammstein are a lot less less-dimensional than I give them credit for in my memory-thumbnail.

‘Das Alte Leid’ comes in next, it reminds me a bit of ‘We Live No More’ by Black Label Society in its tempo and drumbeat. It takes a while to get going, but it fulfills its potential by the end. The guitar solo is very low in the mix.

‘Heirate Mich’ sounds like preparation in a film. It sounds like it would play in the background of an advert for an action-movie-week on Sky TV. It has a guitar solo. That means I like it.

‘Herzeleid’ is pretty basic, but it has a lot of character in the little touches. The keyboard solo reminds me of the safe-calm-mood music from Final Fantasy 10, and there’s a variation of the main riff that reminds me of Shinobi on the Megadrive. The solo has a lot of Zack Wylde/Dime character to it.

‘Laichzeit’ brings back some speed after a notable dip. Its very catchy. Its very Megadrive. Till’s vocals have a lot of personality. The rhythm of the key-punches is the same rhythm as the vocal pattern from that pop song that goes ‘I need some hot stuff baby this evening’ (Specifically, ‘I need some hot stuff’). Some of the hanging keys sound like a Ghost castle in a videogame. Its one of the better songs on the record and the best thing since ‘Seemann.’

The album ends with the song ‘Rammstein.’ Its very slow and sinister. It reinds me of an evil dentist. The lead guitar reminds me of Load-era Kirk Hammet.

And that’s the album over.

Umm. It was pretty good. Nothing much I can say about it in terms of negatives… some of the songs are about thirty seconds too long. It tailed off a bit towards the end. But overall, very good album.

Sorry, I’ve ran out of things to say about it. Goodbye.

Comments
  1. nickscrazyspace says:

    For me, later in their career, Rammstein became a really great band. Probably one of the best to come of German singing in their own language, but their debut album is a weird one.

    However, this album — their debut — is my least favourite.

    Like

  2. BLASPHEMY!

    I gave it to him because it is the best. The very best. Tippity top top of the mountain best of all time best.

    Your middle name is accurate!

    Seriously though, this is easily the greatest Rammstein album. On later records they got very, very good at writing marketable songs and transitioned with great ease from a distinctive niche performance metal act into absolute megastars. Nothing since Mutter was released has been a wholly good album, though. There’s always some small flaws that annoy me, but Herzeleid is one of a very select few I’d happily call perfect.

    Like

    • nickscrazyspace says:

      Ok, I can understand your viewpoint. I think I got into Rammstein later on (Mutter) so I backtracked….maybe I do like this album, it’s just I don’t listen to it often. I can agree with you though — there are classic songs on here (‘Weisses Fleich’, ‘Rammstein’, ‘Herzelied’ and ‘Du Reich So Gut’).

      Like

      • No doubt, man. I think every song has at least one great MOMENT, (like the baby crying on “Das Alte Leid”, the first section of full playing on “Heirate Mich” with the crazy drum fill etc.) and I think Rammstein wrote them that way. There’s at least one section on each track you could look forward to live. For a first album, it displays a remarkable grasp of songwriting skill, a mastery of dynamics. It’s also got a great flow, with four tracks in a row really getting things going and then two singles slowing it down before the last and less accessible half kicks in. And I LOVE how it’s bookended with calling-card tracks, both boasting choruses with just the band name. They’d add a third to that list with “Rammleid” on Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da, but that’s not such a great album.

        Yes. Very fond of the album indeed. I also love Sehnsucht. Thanks for replying!

        Like

      • nickscrazyspace says:

        That’s why I only picked a few tracks as my memory is quite hazy on this album, I don’t often listen to Rammstein a lot so yeah. If you had to ask me my favourite album it would be Sensucht…I think they took everything from their first album and just added a lot more to it, yes everyone will say “oh my first album is the favourite” (nothing wrong with that) it just sometimes gets predictable. But their first album is still a good album…it’s an undefined version of Rammstein, if you will. Talking about it makes me want to listen to it again.

        I laughed when you said “your middle name is right.” I guess I am crazy! Still a bad choice of name though…Nickscrazyspace….ok…

        No problems. Always good to talk to fellow-minded people, I’ll definitely check your blog out if you’re friends with Crimson. 🙂

        Like

      • Hey, anyone with a Dream Theater avatar’s cool by me!

        Like

      • nickscrazyspace says:

        Thank you. That’s all I will say before I start rambling sbout Dream Theater….lol :p

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s