As bands who work to their own rules but go on to major mainstream recognition go, Rammstein are certainly up there. Nowhere is this more evident than in this, their new concert film and documentary package, Rammstein In Amerika.
The first disc of the set is a conventional concert film of their 2010 performance at New York’s Madison Square Garden. From the start, where the musicians break through a wall onto the stage and frontman Till Lindemann appears in a red leather butcher’s apron and red feather boa, with the only light on stage emanating from his mouth, they tear through their ‘theme song’ Rammlied.
For the next hour and forty minutes we get exactly what you’d expect from the ‘Teutonic titans’ but, if possible, cranked up even further. The band are resplendent, looking like East German steel workers going to a bondage event, with the occasional extra added facial flamethrower or pair of giant flaming angel wings.
The music draws fairly strongly on then new album Liebe Ist Fur Alle Da, alongside the usual range of fan favourites. Rammstein are often criticised for being all about the pyrotechnics and ‘show’, but in this film at least, the songs sound great and Lindemann’s delivery is clearly immensely passionate – even though I have little idea what he’s singing about.
Despite their intentional lack of inter-band communication on stage and at times stoic delivery, there is a clear sense of fun in the band’s work as well. From the over the top costumes and stage effects to almost slapstick moments between Lindemann and keyboard player ‘Flake’ Lorenz (culminating in Flake’s traditional dinghy crowdsurf) the intense industrial metal is tempered well in performance.
The band’s performance and show combined with some excellent filming and editing, capturing the whole thing in a genuinely vital fashion, make this a real complete package of a concert film, certainly making it feel like a complete product rather than just an interim ‘cash-in’ between ‘proper’ releases as these kind of things often do.
The second disc of the set is highlighted by the titular documentary film. Going right back to the band’s orgins, including some great footage from the late 1980s of the members various previous projects, the first part offers a great insight into what it must have been like making the transition to the (supposed) new freedom of a unified Germany.
Across two hours the documentary (which is largely in German) traces Rammstein’s association with the USA from early, pre-band, holiday visits, to their first New York gigs up to the MSG show with all that came between.
While at times it feels a bit ‘standard’ in execution, the stories and interviews with the band really bring it to life and offer an insight into their history I’d not heard before.
Along side this we get interviews with contemporary US musicians, music journalists and music industry types who add context to the scene Rammstein became associated with and some of the issues they faced in the so-called (but evidently not so) ‘Land of the Free’.
While a new album seems to finally be in the works, Rammstein In Amerika is a great package capturing the band at their powerful, over the top best, while giving some background to just exactly what they are all about in a far more open way than I’ve heard in the past while being entertaining throughout with it.
Warning: Trailer is a little NSFW