Captain Dirk's Writings - Introducing the Band: Rammstein
Thursday December 17th 2020
In relation to a band’s history, the very first single is an advertisement enticing the listener to purchase an album. However, what this does is bring your attention to the band while the very first song on the first album is when the band is truly able to introduce themselves. For this article, I will be covering the first song from Rammstein’s Herzeleid, “Wollt Ihr das Bett in Flammen Sehen”
For many Americans, Rammstein was an introduction into the marriage of both heavy metal and industrial music. Even before Rammstein was breaking into something of mainstream, there were bands such as Ministry, Fear Factory and Nine Inch Nails. However, something new was beginning to blossom from the German scene known as “Neue Deutsche Härte” which translates to “New German Heaviness”. This would be a distinct formula bringing in tropes of industrial synths with guitar riffs commonly in drop D or drop C tuning. The band called Oomph! would be one of the first bands to arrive however, Rammstein is who became the household name.
It’s important to understand that with Rammstein, everything is mapped and calculated at a very in-depth level. This is expressed by the producer, Jacob Hellner and reported by Metal Injection, “[It's] what I call the never-ending Rammstein conference. They talk constantly within themselves about what they're doing, why they're doing it, what is right for them, what is wrong for them… They can talk about a guitar riff for days, they can talk about a synth sound for days.”
More to this level of calculation is in the behaviors of the band where in each album, the band will take two years to write and record an album. This can be to their detriment as the discourse in their album, “Leibe ist Für Alle Da”, the band almost broke up due to disagreements on the decisions of the music. When breaking down the guitar playing, the riffs are simple in a way that says less is more and that every note, every chord must be treated as it matters. In this method, the band is treating your time as if every bit of it is precious.
“Wollt Ihr das Bett in Flammen Sehen” treats the listener to a droning sound followed by not guitar, bass, drum or vocals but instead, the keys played by Flake followed by a very distinct and personalized drum sound of Schneider. A handful of bars and the same notes are repeated by Kruspe, Landers and Riedel’s guitars. As stated before, simple but also heavy, with a clean production sound and most importantly, memorable. The riff that is brought to you works as an earworm built through repetition.
Now that the musicians have introduced their sound and signature tones to you, Lindemann steps forward to ask you, “Do you want to see the bed aflame?” A deep voice greets the listener grabbing their attention in a way that can only be done by Lindemann. Every syllable is brought in a way that gives a punch in authority. But what makes this case different is the hook of the song being one word, “Rammstein”. That’s it. As simple as this hook is, it’s one of the most important takeaways to this song.
As a teenager first hearing this, I had a friend asking what kind of band would use their own name in the song. I shrugged it off saying it sounded cool but later, I would come to a realization. This was not just a hook, it was a rallying call.
In this song, it was an establishment of identity they built as if to say, “We are here, we are united, we are Rammstein. This is what we do and we do it damn well.” This would not be the only time they use their name as a rallying call either. In a return, Rammstein begins Leibe ist Für Alle Da in the same notion with their song, “Rammlied”. “Wollt Ihr das Bett in Flammen Sehen” is one of the most important songs of the band’s entire history not just for the listeners but for the band itself. The unity is reflected in how Rammstein would conduct their band going forward cementing that if any member were to leave or pass away, it will be noticed. Even as Till Lindemann or Richard Kruspe would eventually begin their side projects, this would be blatantly clear. Kruspe’s solo project, Emigrate, would use the same style of guitar playing and tone as he would in Rammstein but, it is not Rammstein without the rest of his brotherhood.
If you have never explored Rammstein beyond their widely played singles, you owe it to yourself to listen to Herzeleid.