There’s much to read into in the title of Rammstein’s excellent eighth album.
Where 2019’s untitled offering was presented on its own bombastic merit – 11 songs that were quintessentially Rammstein – its (relatively) quick-fire follow up is boldly labelled with the German word for ‘Time’. After two-and-a-bit-years of lockdown that severely curtailed touring for that last release and, at one point, saw frontman Till Lindemann admitted into intensive care (with non-COVID conditions), allusions to emptying hourglasses and the fragility of life are hardly surprising. More intriguing is the tacit acknowledgement from these middle-aged heavyweights that even their inimitable formula must evolve to avoid stagnation: the Neue Deutsche Härte ain’t so neue
Longevity is about the marathon, not the sprint, and the pacing here is key. All downbeat high-drama, Armee Der Tristen (Army Of The Dreary) could never have come from anyone else, but beneath the piston-pumping riffage and massive ‘KOMM MIT’ chorus hook, there’s a muted world-weariness that makes it a curious choice for album-opener. The title-tack delivers five minutes of mid-paced melancholia, geared around a faintly throbbing piano line and Till’s complex, contemplative lyricism. ‘Dem Ende treiben wir entgegen / Keine Hast, nur vorwärts streben / Am Ufer winkt Unendlichkeit,’ he laments - ‘We drift towards the end / No rush, just driving forward / Infinity beckons on the shore.’ When Schwarz unfurls as another sombre, stately showpiece, while it’s impossible to argue with the quality of Rammstein’s songcraft, you can’t help but wonder whether they’ve forgotten how to party.