Rammstein songs are rarely straightforward. Till Lindemann’s lyrics often work on various levels. The scope of interpretation, the band’s martial appearance in videos and on stage, and also the direct or indirect quotes by the Nazi icon and filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl — it’s all sparked accusations against the world’s most successful German band, with critics saying the group plays with far-right ideology.
With their long-awaited seventh studio album, simply called Rammstein, the band seems to be clearly playing with the political, though it’s not always clear in what direction.
This album, like all the other Rammstein albums, has eleven songs. The video clips for “Deutschland” (“Germany”) and “Radio” received millions of clicks within hours of appearing online. The single released ahead of the album, “Deutschland,” was an instant hit in the German single charts. But the song is no longer in the top ten.
Favoring a far-right ideology?
In March, the musicians announced “Deutschland” with a short video clip that showed members of the band wearing clothes reminiscent of concentration camp inmates. The band was severely criticized by politicians, historians and Jewish associations. “With this video, the band has crossed a line,” Charlotte Knobloch, ex-president of the Central Council of Jews, said. “The way Rammstein abuses the suffering and murder of millions for entertainment in this video is frivolous and repulsive.”
The song is a savage, though not national reckoning with 2,000 years of German history. “I can not give you my love,” Rammstein sings about Germany and goes on to list negative associations with Germany, concluding that “he who ascends will fall deeply.” The next line — “Germany, Germany above everyone” — is almost identical to a line from a stanza in the German national anthem that is no longer sung as it was used during Nazi rule in Germany.
The Rammstein song “Radio” goes in a completely different direction. The song is an outcry against censorship and oppression: “We were not allowed to belong; see, talk or hear anything.” But music and thoughts know “no borders, no fences.” In the accompanying video, an army in black uniforms cannot take control of the radio station and the musicians.
The reactions on social media are mixed. Many fans are disappointed and expected more both text-wise and musically after waiting for a new album for such a long time. Some users called it mediocre and others said it was simply not as powerful as their last album from ten years ago.
Rammstein has courted controversy numerous times since the band was started in Berlin in 1995. The band’s videos, songs and album art have depicted necrophilia, sado-masochism, sexual violence and abuse.
The group launches its largely sold-out European stadium tour on May 27 in Gelsenkirchen in northwest Germany.