That time again, folks! Monday morning means another round of The Horns Up Top 10. And this one will be quite a doozy, folks.
You may recall that in last week’s Top 10, Corey had one foot firmly in Germany ahead of his trip to Wacken Open Air 2014, and decided to focus on a band performing at the festival. And while Amon Amarth was a timely choice…I’ll be honest, it was a little disappointing that he didn’t take advantage of German things and choose literally the most German band of all the German bands. (Kidding. Kind of.) Fortunately for y’all, I’ll be taking that band this week to cover for him. That’s right, for this week’s edition of The Horns Up Top 10, we’re going to take a look at RAMMSTEIN.
Over the next couple of weeks, with Corey away and me more or less solely responsible for all of our blog content, you’re going to see a lot of stuff that doesn’t require much in the way of explanation. Rammstein most certainly fits that bill. In their 20 years of existence, the Berlin sextet’s made its name through both a steadily hard-hitting brand of industrial/Neue Deutsche Härte music and an absolutely stellar live experience. (Their unofficial slogan? “Other bands play; Rammstein burns!“) Corey and I would know; we’ve seen them twice. Here’s an example:
Yyyyyyyep, those are fire-breathing helmets, which vocalist Till Lindemann and guitarists Richard Z. Kruspe and Paul Landers bust out during live performances of “Feuer Frei!” They’re something else. And while I might try to do the band justice with this list, no amount of studio-release listening or metal blog verbiage can truly convey what the band is like live. If you haven’t seen them, do so the next chance you get. Anyway, now that I’ve “not much in the way of explanation’d” the hell out of this thing, here’s my Rammstein Top 10:
“Engel” (from Sehnsucht, 1998)
“Engel” is a perfect mix of the…almost danceable?…qualities of Herzeleid and the more rocking fare that the band would perfect on later releases. The main riff is as heavy as anything, and the call-and-response chorus between Lindemann and guest female vocalist Bobo is creepily catchy. It’s also got some sentimental value for me, as it’s the first Rammstein song I ever listened to. (Yep. NOT “Du Hast,” which, SPOILER ALERT: didn’t make my list.)
“Ich Tu Dir Weh” (from Liebe ist für alle da, 2009)
I’ll admit, this one won a toss-up with “Rammlied,” the other member of LIFAD‘s heavy-as-fuck, 1-2 album opening punch. (Largely because these days, all I can think of with that song is its fart- and banjo-laden remix by Devin Townsend) That being said, “Ich Tu Dir Weh” is still a total crusher and an absolutely perfect track to bang your head to. Plus, Lindemann’s voice just SOARS during that chorus.
“Links 2-3-4” (from Mutter, 2001)
The first entry of what will be quite a few from my personal favorite Rammstein album. There’s so much to like about this thing–the militaristic, march-like feel (the song’s title actually translates to “left-2-3-4”), the contrast between the eerie quiet of the verses and the chaos in the refrain, etc. Personally, it’s the backing choral vocals during the latter section that do it for me; there’s just something so awesome about that build-up!
“Tier” (from Sehnsucht, 1998)
An unexpected pick as the second Sehnsucht entry? Perhaps. But for my money, “Tier’s” one of the best that album has to offer. (Yes, far superior to “Du Hast.”) The main riff chugs along like a beast and the chorus is absolutely killer–thanks to a choice keyboard melody from Flake Lorenz. And on a more personal level, I air-drum like crazy to this thing pretty much whenever it comes on. So there’s that as well.
“Mein Teil” (from Reise, Reise, 2004)
Even though it boasts probably Rammstein’s most abject, disturbing subject matter (and an equally creepy video, to boot), goddamn if “Mein Teil” isn’t incredibly catchy. Right from the very get-go (or, about 20 seconds in, if you’re watching the video below–because dramatic video intros, duh), you’re thrown into a maelstrom of heavy riffage and hellishly angelic backing vocals. And sure, you might shudder a bit as you sing along with the refrain, but you will sing along. Because it’s irresistible.
“Feuer Frei!” (from Mutter, 2001)
Did you SEE the picture with the fire helmets up above? Do I REALLY need any more reason than that? As is the case with many of these, this is a fantastic song that Rammstein makes simply otherworldly in a live setting. At just a hair over three minutes, “Feuer Frei!” is short, simple and to the point. Oh, and AGGRESSIVE AS ALL HELL. Hard not to feel the adrenaline coursing through your veins after this one–live or studio.
“Mutter” (from Mutter, 2001)
It’s hard to call them “ballads” per se, but every once in a while, Rammstein will “go soft” for a song. There’s “Ohne Dich;” there’s “Ein Lied;” and then there’s, in my opinion, the best of these pace-changers, “Mutter.” The song gives Lindemann a chance to show off his versatility as a vocalist. and he takes full advantage of it–delivering everything from near-whispers in the verse to an anguished scream after the bridge. Oh, and that chorus? It’s dramatic and epic in ALL the right ways.
“Pussy” (from Liebe ist für alle da, 2009)
In addition to the fact that this goth-tinged gem is easily Rammstein’s most musically catchy song to date, it also boasts the following lyrics: “You’ve got a pussy / I have a dick / So what’s the problem? / Let’s do it quick!” Any argument against “Pussy” being on this list ends there.
“Du Riechst So Gut” (from Herzeleid, 1995)
Had to include some early Rammstein here, and I’ll admit, it was a tough call picking just one representative from Herzeleid. While “Asche zu Asche” or “Wollt Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen?” would have been perfectly reasonable inclusions, I gave “Du Riechst So Gut” the edge because, you know…history and stuff. (It was the band’s first-ever single release, preceding Herzeleid by about a month.) It’s also one of Rammstein’s catchiest and, strangely, most danceable numbers ever, and that chorus is an absolute ace.
“Sonne” (from Mutter, 2001)
When Rammstein used “Sonne” to open their April 2012 set at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum–to this day, second only to Paul McCartney on my favorite concerts list–I just about shat a brick. It’s simultaneously one of their catchiest and most punishing songs ever–with a haunting earworm of a chorus that’ll stick with you for days. And it absolutely slays in concert. In the playlist below, you’ll see exactly one live clip, and that’s this song’s performance from the band’s Rock Am Ring set in 2010. They always turn up for shows, and there’s no better proof of that than “Sonne.”
The Horns Up Top 10 on YouTube
(Unfortunately, Spotify comes up short again. But this time, it’s not actually their fault. Damn you, Rammstein!)
That’ll do it, folks. If you don’t feel a little more German after watching all of those–or like punching something (in a good way!)–you’re doing it wrong. Did I mention that all of you should see Rammstein live? Well, even if I did, and even if the “Sonne” clip I chose gave you an idea of what they’re like, let me reinforce this again: see Rammstein live. That is all. Thanks for checking in, and make sure to stop back later today for Quickies!
Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up.