Rammstein - Herzeleid
Motor Music
Industrial
11 songs (49:52)
Release year: 1995
Rammstein, Motor Music
Reviewed by Jay
Archive review

Rarely does the first release by a band become the genre release of the year. The stage was set in 1995. The industrial scene had witnessed Nine Inch Nail’s “The Downward Spiral” the year before and Marilyn Manson’s “Antichrist Superstar” was right around the corner. The void that year was filled by a sextet of former East German factory workers. The album was “Herzeleid.” The band was Rammstein. Although it was not released in the U.S. until 1998 (after “Sehnsucht”), I obtained an import copy of this album after hearing Rammstein’s contributions to the Lost Highway soundtrack.

Rammstein’s most recent studio release “Mutter” has been called the best album of their career and with good reason. It features complex songwriting and meticulous mixing. "Mutter" toned down the rawness of their earlier work to bring a more mature and harmonious sound. “Herzeleid,” in comparison, is very stripped down from that sound. Instead of being pushed into the background, Flake Lorenz actually plays keyboard melodies that function as the center of songs on this album. Christoph Schneider plays more metal styled drumming on “Mutter.” On this album his drumming is basically no more than a human drum machine. The patterns and beats could have been taken from popular European techno songs.

While Rammstein uses sampling on all their albums, the samples are much less edited and raw on this album. Most notably are the samples from iD software’s game Doom on the opener track “Wollt Ihr Das Bett in Flammen Sehen?” The sounds of doomguy screaming as he dies and the shotgun cock in the middle of the breakdown are taken right from the game and iD is even credited in the liner notes. This song blew me away when I first heard it and might still be my favorite Rammstein song to date. The riff is so simple but so catchy. The dual guitar team of Kruspe and Landers exploit their talents to make the simple into the complex. Oliver Riedel’s bass line is equally simple but completely supports the band. Flake plays the intro on the keyboard and then is responsible for the choice placement of the samples on the track. And then there’s Till.

Till Lindemann’s vocals are almost legendary now. His deep, teutonic voice is commanding, frightening and everything a metal singer should be. When I saw Rammstein in concert, and he screamed “Shut up!” the hall fell dead silent. The foreboding quality of his voice is especially apparent on the song “Rammstein.” The context is somewhat macabre; the lyrics are about a plane that crashed into a crowd of on-lookers at an air show. The introduction gives you a feeling of impending doom through the slow buildup. Once the main riff hits, you’re in for a tumultuous ride. The grinding riffs kick ass and the vocals are deep and ominous. The song brings out the fear and uncertainty that must have existed at that moment in time.

The first single from the album was “Du Riehst so Gut.” Again, the track starts out with an electronic intro and there are virtually no guitars until the second verse. The melody is hypnotic, constantly repeating and keeping you interested. The drumming is filled with high hat snaps and again lends an element of Europop to the music but it is not out of place. The chorus is catchy and the violin samples add an interesting effect. “Laichzeit” is a similar track in terms of its layout. Again starting off with an infectious keyboard intro the guitars and drums come in to provide a metal backbone. “Heirate Mich” was the song that first introduced me to Rammstein. The intro with the chorus is a nice touch. In the remix, the first keyboard part is omitted and the guitars come in immediately. I have to admit that I like the remixed version better in that respect. It cuts to the chase earlier. Once the riff starts, there is a march-like drumming that serves as a platform for Till’s vocal delivery. The chorus is another one you can sing along to and get into.

Most albums have their downsides, and this one is no exception. The track “Das Alte Leid” must be one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. Clocking in at nearly six minutes, it is the longest song on the album. By the end of the song, it’s a cacophonous mess of samples and screaming. It bores me and I always skip over it. The title track has similar problems in the overly monotonous repeating riff. Back to the positives, “Seemann” is a wonderful ballad featuring a bass line that has been called one of the hardest to replicate ever.

Again I could dissect each song on this album but they’re all (for the most part) incredible. Rammstein made their point with this album and went on to release even better albums constantly advancing their sound. If you like Industrial or want to know where Rammstein’s current sound came from, check this album out.

Killing Songs :
Wollt Ihr das Bett in Flammen Sehen?, Laichzeit, Du Riehst so Gut, Heirate Mich, Rammstein
Jay quoted 92 / 100
Other albums by Rammstein that we have reviewed:
Rammstein - Mein Land (single) reviewed by Aleksie and quoted no quote
Rammstein - Liebe Ist Für Alle Da reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Rammstein - Rosenrot reviewed by Danny and quoted 60 / 100
Rammstein - Lichtspielhaus DVD reviewed by Jay and quoted no quote
Rammstein - Reise, Reise reviewed by Danny and quoted 98 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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