“Zeit” is the Eighth studio album from Rammstein, a band requiring little presentation. Probably the most famous German band in the world, even more than Kraftwerk, they got well known between the end of the 90s and early 2000s thanks to their brand of industrialized metal strongly influenced by Laibach, Die Krupps, Metallica, Depeche Mode, KMFDM and characterized by Till Lindemann’s caustic, ironic, ferocious yet poetic and melancholic lyrics dealing with topics rarely seen in the world of “commercial” metal. But probably the strongest reason for their success has always been their theatrical concerts full of pyrotechnics and staged novelties.
Fastforward: time passes as it always does, the sound gets step by step less aggressive and dark, the industrial elements are replaced by contemporary electronic music and even pop influences, the themes while retaining an element of ambiguity become less frightful, inevitably what once was new for the general public becomes a norm, Rammstein themselves become an influence for an entire scene in Germany and their name has nothing to do with the concept of anything underground, if they ever did.
2022, now: “Zeit” is out, three years after the previous self-titled album which saw a slight change of sound due to the new producer Olsen Involtini who replaced Jacob Hellnerr and a somewhat more experimental take on sounds with mixed results. While retaining some of the previous effort aesthetics, the new album is in many aspects a different beast. Probably Rammstein morosest and most brooding effort to date, at least in lyrics, the core theme of the album is the passing of time and the concept of death and loneliness. The sound is more straightforward and reminiscent of the band tradition, albeit with some slick adjustment recalling the new elements introduced in the aforementioned seventh album.
The first three tracks set the tone perfectly: “Armee Der Tristen” is a melancholic yet stomping march about depression and sadness, the title track is a desperate ballad about time as a merciless reality, “Schwarz” is a beautiful celebration of finding solace in darkness at the end of the day.
Then, the path pursuits other topics familiar to the band: sex and desire, sardonic social commentary, slightly sillier humor. But this time tears overweight laughters as never before, “Meine Tränen” has hints of incest and cruel lack of affection, “Lügen” cunningly talks about the fake existence we conduct via social media and even dysfunctional relationships – take note of the well dosed use of autotune, the scourge of modern music and the ambrosia of fake singers.
“Adieu” is a grandiose and grim farewell reeking of death and drawn curtain, which will make people speculate about a possible goodbye from the band and the end of their career. Nevertheless it perfectly completes the main theme of the album with one of the strongest moments.
“Zeit” is not a masterpiece or a career defying output, but it comes out as a mature product of our current Zeitgeist. They say artists are more sensitive than others towards the events of society and reality, and many recent outputs in different fields are talking to us about both personal and universal grief, demise, even the fall of man. Rammstein follow suit and give us a reflection about life and death at the same time mournful and brutal, the acceptance of the inevitable end with the knowledge that one can never really fully accept it while living. A universal paradox we are getting more and more accustomed everyday, and seeing how Lindemann is not getting any younger is not difficult to understand where is point is coming from.
Release date: April 29th, 2020.
Text by: Davide Pappalardo.