Following on the heels of 2004’s commerically successful, but rather disappointing “Reise, Reise”, we are presented one year later with Rammstein’s “Rosenrot”, an album of “leftovers” from the recording sessions for that album. So how does “Rosenrot” measure up? Well, actually very well, but it definitely has some MAJOR flaws…
Some of the tracks on this album are undoubtedly among their best ever.
“Mann gegen Mann”, “Rosenrot”, “Wo bist du?”, “Zerstoeren” and “Feuer und Wasser” are all top quality work, all infinitely better than anything that was on “Reise, Reise”. But that’s the problem…
The fact is, that this album is literally up-and-down like a yo-yo. At least “Reise, Reise” had some structure, and although none of the songs truly shone, the whole thing flowed very nicely. Unfortunately, this is not the case with “Rosenrot”, and while about half of the songs definitely do shine, others simply do not, and the intermittent moments of brilliance are ruined by equally intermittent moments of tedium.
Album opener “Benzin” is adequate at best. It’s pretty loud and energetic alright, but Rammstein have done all this before, and there’s really nothing new in this song. Think “Feuer Frei!” combined with “Amerika”. Basically, “Benzin” lacks creativity and spark, and falls a little flat as a result. The song’s execrable video certainly does not help matters either.
“Stirb nicht vor mir (Don’t Die Before I Do)” is very lovely musically, and while I do not have a problem with the fact that it is about as big a musical deviation as Rammstein have ever made (at least it’s fairly well done), I do have a BIG problem with whoever teamed Till Lindemann up with Sharleen Spiteri. Both are very talented vocalists in their respective, and VERY different ways, but together…ugh. As Till sings in one of the album’s better tracks, “Fire and water do not come together”. He really should have practiced what he preached with this one, because listening to the two of them singing in unison is about as pleasurable as listening to fingernails scraping down a chalkboard.
“Hilf Mir” could have been superb, but after a listen, one feels that something is missing, as if the song was only half-finished when it was put onto the album. Another chorus perhaps to round the whole thing off would have created something really satisfying, but as it stands it’s a little unfulfilling.
“Te Quiero Puta” marks two firsts for Rammstein. One, the first song sung entirely in Spanish. Two, the first Rammstein song I cannot bear to listen to. This song simply goes too far. It is not humourous or melodic in the least, it is just deeply stupid and highly irritating. Easily the worst on the album, and equally easily, the worst of their career.
And “Ein Lied” is just plain dull, with a few nice touches, but generally the album could have gotten by just as well without it. It’s like the appendix of the album: It’s there, but no one would really miss it if it wasn’t.
So, why the four star rating? Because, quite simply the rest of the tracks on “Rosenrot” are among the all-time greats in Rammstein’s considerable roster. This is Rammstein doing what they do best, free of any tiresome “Reise, Reise”-esque experimentation, and blowing you away with their talents.
Track two, “Mann gegen Mann” is excellent, hits all the right notes and throws in some brilliant keyboards and vocals to boot. After the perfunctory “Benzin”, this track really picks up the pace and restores your faith in the Rammstein that gave us such masterpieces as “Herzeleid”, “Sehnsucht” and “Mutter”.
The title track “Rosenrot” is simply flawless, and for one reason alone; it is just so well-structured. It is a heavily chorus-based song, and there is little to no change in the bass riff throughout. They go easy on the synth too, and there’s not much in the way of solos (except a bridge that sounds suspiciously similar to “Stein um Stein” from “Reise, Reise”). But these are the exact qualities that make the song so fantastic, vocals are especially strong, and you can tell that all the band members pulled together and put in 100% for this one. A definite classic.
“Wo bist du?” almost harkens back to the days of “Sehnsucht” with it’s masterly synths and melody, and a keyboard solo that is simply magnificent. It is also one of their catchier songs, but not in the annoying way that “Amerika” was catchy. It’s more professional and sincere.
“Zerstoeren” is a full-on scream of an anthem, full of dynamic sound effects and full-throttle vocals and instrumentation. Like “Wo bist du?”, it sounds like a pumped up version of something from “Sehnsucht”. Another highlight of the album.
“Feuer und Wasser” is a ballad, but one of the band’s more convincing. It is interesting in that it starts very quiet and hushed, but after two minutes, it practically explodes into a huge, competent anthem, with a great guitar solo.
The only track I’m not yet sure on is Track Four, “Spring”. It’s chorus is undeniably stunning, but the rest of it is a little… I don’t know. Although it is definitely grows on you.
So, in summary, this is a very good album, based on the strength of six of it’s songs. It’s definitely worth buying, even for a casual fan, and shows that although the band had somewhat lost their way with “Reise, Reise”, they haven’t completely lost it. Just be ready with that “Skip” button on your stereo.
The best, in order;
1. Rosenrot (10/10)
2. Wo bist du? (10/10)
3. Zerstoeren (10/10)
4. Feuer und Wasser (10/10)
5. Mann gegen Mann (10/10)
6. Spring (9/10)
7. Hilf Mir (8/10)
8. Benzin (7/10)
9. Stirb nicht vor mir (6/10) * for the instrumentation only.
10. Ein Lied (5/10)
11. Te Quiero Puta! (2/10)