Generally, I find it impossible to like popular music unless I was exposed to a particular performer or group before I turned 21. A large part of the problem is that my tastes have been “corrupted” by classical music. Having come to appreciate polyphony, complex rhythms, and actual singing, the sounds of drum kits being thwacked in 4/4 time, blues chords, and pop “vocals” literally cause a tightness in my chest. My heart sinks. I feel suffocated by the sheer banality of it. And I generally can’t get past that first impression to find whatever genuine pleasures may be there.
Oddly enough, though, this does not happen with popular music and artists that I liked before I was 21. The best explanation I can venture is that a process of imprinting took place during that impressionable period. So the music I liked then, I still like now. But when younger friends expose me to their music, I often find myself thinking “I would have liked this if I had heard it in college.” Then I start daydreaming about Bach or Palestrina. Sometimes, their enthusiasm has moved me to buy recordings by recent artists (recent to me, that is, e.g., Sigur Rós), only to find that I never play them more than once or twice. Even post-21 discoveries whom I genuinely admire, such as Current 93, Goldfrapp’s Felt Mountain, Antony and the Johnsons, and Joanna Newsom, do not really move me to play them very much.
All these prefatory remarks are necessary to make clear just what a hard sell I am, and thus what a compliment it is, when I say that I am crazy about Rammstein. Rammstein, Laibach, Nirvana, and Der Blutharsch are the short list of artists who have breached my resistance to new music and have permanent spots on my iPod. (Death in June is there too, but more for political reasons, e.g., because they’re crypto-Nazis. The music alone would have no appeal to me.)
Rammstein was formed in 1994 in Berlin by six Germans, all of whom were born in East Germany. They created a new genre of rock Neue Deutsche Härte (new German hard rock), which is a fusion of hard rock with elements of techno. German is the primary language for lyrics, although Rammstein have also used English, Russian, French, and Spanish. Rammstein is highly popular around the globe. They have sold more than 16 million albums, and their tours draw huge, enthusiastic crowds. They are even popular in the US, which is especially linguistically insular when it comes to pop music. In spite of their popularity, Rammstein has generally been savaged by rock music critics, particularly in Germany—which can only be a good sign.
Rammstein has released six studio albums since 1995: Herzeleid (Heartache, 1995), Sehnsucht (Longing, 1997), Mutter (Mother, 2001), Reise, Reise (Arise, Arise, 2004), Rosenrot (Rose Red, 2005), and Liebe ist für alle da (Love is There for Everyone, 2009). There are also two live albums, Live aus Berlin (Live from Berlin, 1999) and Völkerball (Dodgeball, 2006), both of which are also available as DVDs. Rammstein has also done many music videos which are available on YouTube. The DVD Lichtspielhaus (Movie Theater, 2003) compiles videos for songs from their first three albums. This month, Rammstein will release a greatest hits collection, Made in Germany, 1995–2011.
The Rammstein Sound
Rammstein’s musical and visual aesthetics were deeply influenced by Laibach. Rammstein vocalist Till Lindemann’s deep, rumbling baritone is reminiscent of Laibach’s Milan Fras, although Lindemann is a better singer. In “Rammlied” on Liebe ist für alle da, Rammstein actually interpolates a few lines from Laibach’s iconic “Geburt einer Nation” (Birth of a Nation), their German version of Queen’s “One Vision,” as an homage to Laibach.
Rammstein’s logo is also based on Laibach’s. Laibach uses a cross in a cogged wheel. Rammstein takes the cross and simply superimposes the letter “R” on it.
Rammstein also employs Laibach’s bombastic, “fascistic” sound. Imagine a “Wall of Sound” engineered by Albert Speer. But, again like Laibach, Rammstein’s hard rock is richly textured through the use of techno-elements, synthesizers, strings, accordions, background vocals, sound-effects, whistling, call and response with chanting crowds, and dramatic alterations of tempo and dynamics, etc.
An excellent example of Rammstein’s sound is “Engel” (Angel) from Sehnsucht, in which whistling, synthesizers, and female vocals communicate the ethereal beauty of heaven even as Till Lindemann’s deep voice—siding with the earthy and aggresssive rock guitars, bass, and drums—informs us “Gott weiß ich will kein Engel sein” (God knows I don’t want to be an angel). You can listen and see the lyrics in translation here. You can read the original German lyrics and an English translation here.
You have to be a YouTube member to see the official “Engel” video, with its tribute of Franz von Stuck’s “Sin.” As a general rule, I am not crazy about Rammstein’s videos, because even when they are technically well made and often quite witty (e.g., “Sonne”), they are generally degenerate and often bear little relation to the words of the songs. I will comment at length about Rammstein’s best videos in another article.
Two of my favorite tracks from Mutter are “Sonne” (“Sun”) and “Ich Will” (“I Want”). “Sonne” is a surreal, ominous suryanamaskar with an apocalyptic feel. Is it a count-down to a nuclear holocaust? “Sonne” is a very hard-edged song, yet it effectively incorporates high female vocals, strings, and dramatic changes of dynamics. You can listen and see the lyrics in translation here. See the droll “Snow White and the Six Dwarves” video here. The lyrics and translation are here.
“Ich Will” seems to explore the needy, controlling, and ultimately insatiable relationship of rock stars and their fans. The crowd gives Lindemann everything he demands, and still he remains frustrated: “Ich versteh euch nicht” (I don’t understand you). “Ich Will” uses strings, synthesizers, high female vocals, call-and-response from a crowd, and stark dynamic and a rhythmic changes to great dramatic effect (song and lyrics in translation [unfortunately the sound quality is bad], lyrics alone).
Again like Laibach, Rammstein’s lyrics are usually highly intelligent and witty, often dealing with unusual and serious themes and employing literary quotes and allusions, word-play, double-entendre, and rhyme schemes mercifully free of pop-music banality. Many of their songs are wry and satirical (although they can also be quite filthy, e.g., “Pussy” from Liebe ist für alle da); others are quite moving.
For instance, one of Rammstein’s most remarkable lyrics is Mutter’s “Spieluhr” (Musicbox). It is pure German Romanticism of the E. T. A. Hoffmann variety (song and lyrics in translation, lyrics alone). Two of the group’s best “art” songs appear on Reise, Reise. The title song (Arise, Arise) deals with the battle of man and the sea, including whale hunting, as well as the battle of man and man, and the battle of man with himself (listen, lyrics). The song “Dali Lama” is based on Goethe’s poem “Der Erlkönig” (The Elf King) (listen, lyrics).
In my opinion, Rammstein’s best album is their fourth, Reise, Reise, with Mutter and Sehnsucht close behind. They are remarkably imaginative and consistently good. I listen to all three albums all the way through—then hit repeat.
The first release, Herzeleid, is indispensible and enormously influential, even though it is somewhat uneven. (I first encountered Rammstein when David Lynch used two songs from Herzeleid, “Rammstein” and “Heirate Mich” [Marry Me] in his Lost Highway soundtrack. Lynch also directed the video for “Rammstein.”)
The fifth release, Rosenrot, is the band’s only misstep. It would be good if by any other band, but it sounds like an inferior group’s imitation of a Rammstein album. The sixth album, Liebe ist für alle da, is a return to form, but it still does not rival the first four releases. The greatest hits compilation, Made in Germany: 1995–2011, compiles the band’s best singles, but many of the band’s best songs were never released as singles.
The Nazi Question
The members of Rammstein generally refuse to talk about politics. They will abruptly terminate interviews that broach the subject. But as soon as their first album was released, it was widely assumed by both fans and journalists, that the six members of Rammstein, born and raised in the German Democratic Republic, are somehow German Nationalists, and not just nationalists, but National Socialists.
It is just the sound of the music: Rammstein’s music is unmistakably German, and unapologetically, aggressively, proudly so. Somehow people just know that if there were Rock and Roll in the Third Reich, it would sound like Rammstein. The impression is reinforced by the Arno Breker physiques of lead singer Till Lindemann and lead guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe and the elemental masculinity of Lindemann’s stage antics and deep baritone voice.
Even Kruspe’s marriage to Jewish model Caron Bernstein (in a Jewish ceremony, no less, and with Kruspe taking the name Kruspe-Bernstein) did not quell rumors that Rammstein’s members are crypto-Nazis. (The marriage ended after five years, and without children, thank goodness.) Nor has the Weimar-like decadence of many of the band’s songs, concerts, and videos put a dent in the idea that they hanker for a Boy Scout dictatorship. Nor has the fact that the band is managed by a handicapped black man dispelled the idea that they are racists who would euthanize cripples.
A lot of this finger-pointing is just unhinged Jewish neurosis and ethnic hatred, such as the priceless Rammstein chapter, “Black Market Nationalism: I Hate,” in neocon hack Claire Berlinski’s Menace in Europe: Why the Continent’s Crisis Is America’s, Too (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2007).
Neurotics are trouble because they can’t really deal with reality. Reality merely serves to remind the neurotic of something else, something of greater personal importance, to which he reacts instead. Unfortunately, this means that he seldom acts appropriately toward the reality before him. For instance, a child who has been bullied will often react as if he is being bullied, even when he is not—simply because somebody or something reminds him of a bully.
With neurotic Jews like Claire Berlinski, all roads lead to Auschwitz. Literally everything reminds her of the holocaust. Six blue-eyed German men form a rock group, and Claire Berlinski thinks the Einsatzgruppen are back: “For example, the cover art of their debut album, Herzeleid, resembles to no small degree a Nazi propaganda poster, the six shirtless band members—enormous, muscular, iron-jawed—looming into the camera lens in what appears to be an archetypal celebration of the Master Race.”
The actual cover, of course, does not look Nazi at all. Frankly, it looks rather schwul. But of course, the members of Rammstein would have attracted no negative comment for showing off their ripped physiques if they actually were gay. Manliness is only a threat if coupled with fertility. (The members of Rammstein are intensely private individuals, but all of them are straight and most of them have children.)
Another example of hysteria, picked at random (since howlers can be found on every page):
This is martial music. Without the music, the lyrics might be misinterpreted as expressions of adolescent angst. But these are grown men performing: they are in their late thirties and early forties. Separated from the music, the power of the lyrics is severely diluted. Try reading them again, this time nurturing a vivid image of Stuka dive bombers swiftly obliterating the Polish Air Force while eight motorized and six Panzer divisions slice through Poland. Imagine the Wehrmacht marching through Warsaw as German tanks steamroller Brest-Litovsk and Storm Troopers [here her fugue sucks in Star Wars] slam shut the escape routes across the Vistula. Envision women and children streaming terrified into the roads, attempting to flee the unrelenting, indiscriminate German bombing. Then you can skip the music. You’ll already have something of a feel for it.
This hate-crazed harpy can puke out prose like this by the bucket. And Rammstein’s critics are legion.
“Healthy German Self-Esteem”
But although the Nazi label is absurd, Rammstein is not just implicitly nationalistic. They are openly so, both artistically and politically. But not all German nationalism is National Socialism. Judging from their songs, videos, and stage shows, Rammstein’s German nationalism seems to embrace the Second Reich, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, and even East Germany in a single vision: militant, macho, clean-cut, and kinky. Rammstein’s nationalism seems to have an element of Pim Fortuyn’s brand of Dutch nationalism, which takes pride in certain liberal and progressive attitudes condemned as decadent by the far Right. (It did not save Fortuyn from the Nazi smear either.) Or, to use an example closer to home, the Right wing of the American mainstream is both patriotic and politically correct, just burbling with love for Negroes and Jews. But that does not stop leftists from shrieking “Nazi!” either.
Lead guitarist Kruspe is quite frank about the Germanic nature of Rammstein’s musical aesthetic:
Our music is German, and that’s what comes through. . . . We are simply trying to make the music that we are able to make. The classical music, the music of our ancestors, is passed down in a certain way. We have a feeling for it. American music, black music, we don’t know how to do that—.
Keyboardist Christian Lorenz interjected, “We have no soul [in the Negro sense of the word].” To which Kruspe added:
And we know how to play on the beat. We know how to make it straight, how to make it even. . . . We like it heavy, bombastic, romantic. Like the direction Wagner takes. . . . We’re the only ones who do it the way Germans should. The others try to imitate the English and the Americans. We’re almost too German for Germany. . . . The Germans are a bit ashamed of their nationality. They’ve had a disturbed relationship to it since the Second World War. We’re trying to establish a natural relationship to our identity.
Guitarist Paul Landers adds “Our music is about the revival of a healthy German self-esteem.” Landers also says:
The Germans definitely have a problem. Before, it was Deutschland über alles—Germany above everything. And now Germany is now below everything. Rock bottom. Our problem is that we actually think Germany is pretty good. But almost nobody thinks that. Everybody’s very embarrassed to be German, and there’s no German identity. Our aim is to help Germany not to be overly patriotic like the Americans, but to be patriotic, and not be ashamed. . . . In my opinion there’s a certain type of character that Germans have . . . there’s something that Germans have, that no other nationality has. It would be a shame if that disappeared.
(These quotes are from chapter 8 of Berlinski’s Menace in Europe.)
After analyzing Rammstein’s lyrics and interviewing members of the band, Berlinski concludes that they are “basically quite stupid” but grants that they can turn a clever phrase. Some books just review themselves!
Rammstein is a German nationalist group insofar as their music is self-consciously and proudly German. Moreover, although, as far as I know, the band members have not taken positions on immigration and other political controversies, they do have a genuine political or metapolitical agenda, which is to overthrow Germany’s post-World War II culture of self-loathing and restore a healthy and natural patriotism.
This agenda puts Rammstein on a collision course with Germany’s American Occupation regime, and with Jewish power world-wide, which is founded on moral extortion. If you object to Jewish behavior, then Jews immediately change the subject to the Holocaust, because during the Holocaust, Jews were a blameless victim people unjustly persecuted by diabolical Nazis, who are then likened to the present-day critics and opponents of the Jews, including you, dear reader, should you get out of line. That usually does the trick. But they’ll ease up on you if you grant them a moral blank check to exploit the rest of the human race until the sun goes supernova.
This whole swindle is premised on establishing a mindless, conditioned horror and revulsion towards any form of European ethnic pride and self-assertion. Whenever Jews see proud Europeans, they think of the Holocaust, and they are determined that you think of it too. Thus Jews are terrified when they see Germans who have not internalized Jewish anti-German hatred. A Germany that is not demoralized, a Germany that can say “no,” could be the beginning of the end of NATO, the EU, American power, and Jewish hegemony in Europe.
This is why Rammstein gets such bad press. Groups like the Anti-Defamation League fear that any little loose end might unravel the whole fabric of Jewish control, which is why they seemingly overreact to every little challenge to their worldview. Till Lindemann just has to roll his “r”s and Abe Foxman starts schwitzing. That’s why Jews try to keep groups like Rammstein obscure. Believe me, if the right journalist or record producer had seen Rammstein coming, Lindemann and Kruspe would be washing cars and waiting tables in Berlin today. But they slipped through and got too big, too fast, to simply disappear.
I used to think that Jews were paranoid. But now I am not so sure. Despite their enormous power and wealth, they are very few and they are spread very thin. Their ethnocentrism is turned up to eleven. Their ethnic advocacy groups are working at 110%. Their power is as wide as the world, but it is only as deep—and ephemeral—as the dew. Most whites, by contrast, either have no ethnic self-consciousness or they hate themselves. We have almost no ethnic advocacy groups, and the ones we do have tend to be small and marginalized.
This sounds bleak, but there is an upside. It implies that whites have enormous potential for growth in ethnocentrism and ethnic advocacy, but Jews do not. Thus only a small move toward realizing our potential may be enough to disrupt Jewish ability to contain it. And when the containment is breached, events can cascade out of control, and big changes can happen very quickly.
This is why whites should be as zealous at promoting every little thing that destabilizes Jewish power as Jews are at stamping them out. They know the potential power of one small voice, like Emma West. It is time that we learn that lesson too.