This is a hard review for me to write. I’m a fan of every single Rammstein track, album, Live performance, video… you get the idea. When I first heard Rosenrot, I was torn as I tried to figure out whether I was listening to musical genius or the fall of a great band. Sounds scary, but rest assured- I love this album.
So where’s the controversy? To understand Rosenrot, you need some background. Shortly after the release of Reise, Reise, Rammstein found themselves a bit disillusioned with touring (where someband members began to feel the weight of fans’ demand for over-the-top shows), and with their record company (as they were only one album short of fulfulling their contract and re-negotiating their terms). Returning to the studio briefly, the band agreed that there was enough material leftover from the previous album to begin a work originally called Reise, Reise Part 2. Adding in some new tracks, Rammstein quickly pushed out the successor that became Rosenrot, which they now felt was strong enough to be a stand-alone album, and not just a Part 2.
So is Rosenrot just a half-baked attempt to fulfill some random obligations? Not in this reviewer’s opinion. A few tracks will definately grate on some listener’s ears (Stirb Night vor Mir is the un-popular choice here), but all of the fuss over only a small number of hit-or-miss tracks should tell you something about the history of the band. Rammstein fans are used to releases full of potential singles, where nary a weak song exists. Even if you wind up passing on a few tracks, what’s left is brutally fun music that’s well worth the purchase price. Right off the bat, the album opens up with Benzin and Mann Gegen Mann, guitar-heavy tracks that will please Rammstein fans of any era. Rosenrot, Spring, and Wo Bist Du seem like softer, nearly ballad-like songs at face value, but listen closely and you’ll hear that Rammstein’s still rocking full-force for a big chunk of the time.
That’s when Stirb Nicht vor Mir hits, and it’s honestly not that bad. Sure, it starts out sounding a little too close to country music for most Rammstein fans’ tastes. And yes, Rammstein should have contacted their normal female vocalist, Bobo. But the replacement used isn’t quite as bad as some will make her out to be. And even if you hate it, just hit Fast-Forward. This puts you at Zerstören, my personal favorite from the album. It’s hard-hitting, and the main guitar riff is one that every listener will be trying to get out of their head for days to come- brilliant. A short jog through the near-power-ballad of Hilf Mir, and you’re at Te Quiero Puta!. This track is a wonder, as it’s performed entirely in Spanish. Trumpets blend with metal guitar to make an addictive blend, and it’s one of the album’s top tracks. Rosenrot closes with two softer songs, Feuer und Wasser and Ein Lied. A soft ending to a lot of rocking.
Overall, Rosenrot sounds like all the band members are having a lot of fun. Guitars range from heavy to experimental, some keyboard semi-solos recall the days of Herzeleid or Sehnsucht, and the whole time, the tracks maintain the epic sense of production value that Reise, Reise brought to the table. It’s interesting, experimental, and even bordering on awkward at times as the band stretches its musical wings- but it’s all still Rammstein through and through, and Rosenrot is a great addition to any collection.