Rammstein is a German industrial metal band founded in Berlin in 1994. The band belongs to the genre «Neue Deutsche Härte» (new German hardness), and has sold over 16 million albums. They were born in the ashes of the flames after a horrific plane crash.
The name is inspired by the Ramstein accident that occurred on 28 August 1988 at the American airbase Ramstein Airforce Base. 70 people were killed in the flames after the accident. This was something that made a deep impression on me: My father was a former fighter pilot, who flew the Starfighter F-104 and experienced many deaths among his close friends.
The plane was basically a giant rocket with a pair of small wings and some space for someone crazy enough to fly the madness. It went by the nickname «The Man Missile». I myself was determined to follow in his footsteps, but unfortunately failed at the very last hour after a year-long process towards my only dream in life.
The band has been repeatedly accused of being fascists, Nazis etc. This is of course completely ridiculous. Rammstein themselves do not want to be a political band, they are basically artists who want to entertain, preferably with shocking means. Just like the models in Laibach.
Rammstein don’t make it easy for themselves. The vocalist sings in a way that highlights both the beauty and brutality of the German language. And the use of uniforms, violence and double meanings is apt to confuse most people. But they are only following in Laibach’s footsteps.
The Slovenian philosopher Zizek described the method Laibach used as “a hidden reverse”. They brought the barbarism of fascism to light, dressed it naked, and showed how attractive fascism can be. The same can be said about Rammstein, which you can see an example of in my selected recording at the bottom of this issue.
This is a question that psychology professor Jordan B. Peterson has also touched on: It is easy to condemn in retrospect. But what would you have done if you lived in 1939-45? It’s an uncomfortable question we should all ask ourselves. Especially all those who are collectivist in nature.
Some, including me, believe that the people’s reaction to the pandemic shows how easily Europeans fall into the totalitarian track. When we were denied visiting our own holiday homes even in our own land, then detention, forced vaccination, division, condemnation, übermensch, üntermensch. Rammstein utilizes the same tools, and this can of course seem confusing.
What really propels Rammstein into the top class is the magical and almost terrifying baritone of Lindemann, combined with a rock-solid rhythm section with rhythm guitar, bass and rock-solid drummer. Solo guitarists Kruspe and Flake on keyboards contribute spice, playfulness and charm.
At the same time, the classical inspiration is clear. The Dalai Lama is inspired by “Der Erlkönig” by Goethe himself. And the song Haifisch takes its title from the first line of the text in Moritat von Mackie Messer by Kurt Weill and Berthold Brecht, from the famous The Threepenny Opera. This song is best known in its American version Mack the Knife, performed by Louis Armstrong among others.
The whistling from Ute Lemper’s version may have inspired Rammstein creating the almost country-like intro to the song Engel, which is also one of many songs that focus on decadence and moral entropy.
Rammstein’s melodies are often ridiculously simple, about the level of children’s songs. But the intense performance, the dynamics and the musical achievements make a deep impression on me.
All the members of Rammstein were born in the GDR. Flake has said on several occasions that he misses life before the wall fell, it was a simpler life. If he went to the pub in the GDR and ordered a beer, he got a beer. Not a hundred options. A bit like the Rema 1000 commercial: A coffee, please. They didn’t have much, but they had enough.
Now we are let down by endless choices, a hundred TV channels and forty different types of coffee. While the freedoms that really matter are removed without anyone protesting: property rights, freedom of speech, control and responsibility for one’s own health. Freedom is demanding, few are able to understand or value freedom.
Moreover, freedom also entails responsibility, which does not fit into the philosophy of all those who praise the welfare state. Security is the foundation of Maslov’s pyramid of needs. Freedom is treated as a somewhat unnecessary luxury. But at the extremes of culture there are forces that understand what is at stake. I count Rammstein as part of this segment.
The band has never wanted to be political. They have been repeatedly accused of being neo-Nazis, nationalists and all sorts of insults. They didn’t care for a long time, but eventually they had enough. They released the song Links, 2, 3, 4 to emphasize that they belong to the left politically. Another song inspired by Bertholdt Brecht.
But Rammstein are certainly not woke, and they do not fear controversy. And their relationship with their native Germany is not anti-nationalist, but ambivalent.
The video for the song Deutschland became a sensation, giving Rammstein their second top spot on the German charts. The criticism was as expected, since it abounds with Nazis, Holocaust victims and a stunningly beautiful black woman as the very symbol of the German state: Germania.
(I choose not to publish the video for Rammstein’s second chart-topper, it could be too much for our older readers. I will have to mention the title: Pussy).
But if you watch the video with a bit of historical knowledge and an open mind, you understand what Rammstein is trying to say. It is a journey through German history, and shows how Germany is built on a foundation of both blood and greatness. It is a Germany you can both love and condemn, as the text says bluntly:
Deutschland, mein Herz in Flammen
Will dich lieben und verdammen
Deutschland, dein Atem kalt
So jung, und doch so alt
At the same time, gluttony, decadence and elites who do not care about the lives of their subjects are attacked. Germany survives by devouring itself. Vocalist Lindemann performs as a Jew, a Nazi, Honecker, a mafia boss, and as a Roman legionnaire with a severed head.
One clip portrays him as a boxer in the Weimar Republic, fighting for money that has no value. Another as a drag queen in Rote Armé Fraktion. We see tanks rolling with a giant statue of Marx in the background (which exists in reality).
And even if Germany indulges itself, it will never be enough. Therefore, the video suggests a future submarine war in space.
It also suggests that the tension between blood and greatness will lead to the birth of the beast itself, as a harbinger of a terminus for German history, and perhaps as a reminder of the cruel aspects of German history. The First and Second World Wars were bad enough, but the Thirty Years’ War (1618-48) remains the greatest disaster to befall the German people. There are no exact figures, but one estimate suggests that Germany had a population loss of around 40% in the countryside and 33% in the cities.
Now Germany is destroying European economy againg, by their insane concept Energiewende.
In my opinion, this video is a pure masterpiece, which should be watched many times to get all the details.
Rammstein does not hide that they are critical of the American consumer culture and tasteless imperialism. In the song Amerika, the element of children’s songs comes out clearly, especially when the song is performed by the Palanka music school from Ukraine.
The original version is of course fantastic, but I recommend that you take a look at this lovely performance by very young Ukrainian music students, who must have practiced for a year to master the task. With a little help from some slightly older youngsters on vocals and violin. The intro with a girl who can’t pronounce the letter r (and sings Amelica) is indescribably charming.
Musik kommt aus dem Weißen Haus
Und vor Paris steht Micky Maus
We’re all living in Amerika
Amerika ist wunderbar
Nach Afrika kommt Santa Claus
Und vor Paris steht Micky Maus
We’re all living in Amerika
Coca-Cola, sometimes war
This is not a love song
I don’t speak my mothers tongue
Rammstein is generally very concerned with flames. The flames are a symbol of destruction, but also a symbol of a will to fight, will to live, der Wille zur Macht. And the pyrotechnic elements during the concerts are not film tricks: several of the band members have been seriously injured during concerts. These guys literally bleed for the art. But The show must go on.
Although Rammstein is best known for their rather hard music, they have some examples that show the breadth of their artistic expression. Mein herz brennt in an acoustic version, with Lindemann as a mixture of a mad clown and the Joker, and Sven Helbig on piano, shows what enormous communication skills he has as a vocalist. At the same time, he is shown that the power of Rammstein’s music does not depend on fuzz guitars, bass and drums.
The text is a kind of horror story for children, who fear the monsters under the bed, who crawl up from the deep darkness of the basement, while the terrified child hears «the voice from the pillow».
Nun liebe Kinder, gebt fein Acht
Ich bin die Stimme aus dem Kissen
Ich hab’ euch etwas mitgebracht
Hab’ es aus meiner Brust gerissen
Sie kommen zu euch in der Nacht
Dämonen, Geister, schwarze Feen
Sie kriechen aus dem Kellerschacht
Und werden unter euer Bettzeug sehen
(Dear children, be on guard
I am the voice from your pillow
I have something for you
Which I have torn from my breast
They come to you at night
Demons, spirits, the black fairy
They crawl up from the black basement
And sneaks under your covers)
There are an infinite number of songs I could have mentioned. In the disco-like song Ausländer, Rammstein turns the flow of refugees upside down, and shows European boat refugees who are welcomed by half-naked African young girls who drag them into the cabins. Or is it a criticism of the colonial era? It is impossible to know when it comes to Rammstein.
In Rosenrot we are described the European, self-pitying weakness, which means that our infinite moral hubris transforms us into pathetic flagellants – who whip ourselves in the face of the village’s (people’s) innocence and purity. But the hypocrisy is seen through by the simple and innocent.
In the melodious Uhne dich, Rammstein shows how individuals cannot manage without a community. But (and this is important): We must be able to choose our communities ourselves.
Because even if Flake misses the simple everyday life in the DDR, this is not because he supported the regime. He (and several other members of the band) were actually conscientious objectors, something that was not completely risk-free during the Communist rule (to put it mildly).
That’s why I want to end with one of the crudest things I’ve seen from Rammstein: Du Hast, from a concert in Paris.
The text revolves around the German marriage rituals. And the answer from the band is an unequivocal Nein!
Willst du bis der Tod euch scheidet
Treu ihr sein für alle Tage
This does not mean that Rammstein are negative about marriage as an institution. Flako has five children, but is divorced from his first wife. Lindemann is still together with his childhood sweetheart. All are white and heterosexual, they are extremely uninfluenced by woke, although they supported gay rights in a spectacular way by kissing each other on stage in Russia.
But Du hast has a double meaning. As it is written, it means «You have». But as pronounced it can also mean «You hate».
So Rammstein does not say no to marriage. They turn Stieg Larson upside down and say no to women who hate men. Is this a critique of modern feminism? I have no idea. The ambivalence is impenetrable.
For me, this song has become like a rallying cry. The song is so simple that it is on a par with Lisa went to school. But the performance,the audience, rhythm, punch, pyrotechnics and sheer brutal power and energy make this a song I never get tired of.
I use this song as a kind of vent for my own built-in aggression. Maybe you should try the same?
Want more shutdown?
Do you want to join a community with new compatriots who hate everything you stand for?
Do you want to see your economy ruined due to climate measures without a demonstrable effect?
Do you want your children to grow up in a poor and unsafe country?
Do you want to take part in our governments fake charity?
In conclusion, we can ask the same question that Pink Floyd asked in Mother in 1979:
Mother should I trust the government?
The answer is obvious: Nein!
That a German makes thousands of French obey his slightest gesture is only a funny bonus. Here is Rammstein with Du hast – Live in Paris. Turn up the volume and put on the earphones. It doesn’t get particularly tougher!