As a Rammstein fan – even more than that, a Till Lindemann fan – I had a lot of expectations for his side project, Lindemann. While I don’t particularly know his co-conspirator in music, one Mr Peter Tägtgren of PAIN and Hypocrisy fame, he is quite clearly an incredibly talented industrial and death metal musician, and it’s hard to imagine a better pairing really.
Warning: This review would probably be considered NSFW (depending on your W), so for a less personal and totally (maybe) objective version, head over to Soundsphere Magazine
This isn’t an album for those who are easily offended, squeamish, or particularly prudish. If song titles including “Golden Shower”, “Fat” and “Ladyboy” put you off, you probably shouldn’t listen to it. Many fans of Rammstein have never bothered to look up their lyrics, but those who have know that this kind of theme isn’t new for Till – it’s just easier to ignore when it’s in German. God knows I’m glad my parents couldn’t understand it.
Skills in Pills is the perfect starting track with its dance-inducing synths (seriously, it’s impossible not to dance to this song). According to an interview with Till, the title is a reference to his days back in East Germany when alcohol was illegal and to get high they had to mix together different prescription drugs. You needed “skills” to be able to do this though, as if you got it wrong you’d end up with some pretty serious damage. Actually, that explains a lot.
In tone, the song is pure industrial but with elements of the pop-synth side of the genre. It’s got its catchy synths, its heavy breakdown and Till’s heartbreakingly beautiful voice belting out with such passion – it works really, really well.
Ladyboy for example is, lyrically, almost the same as Zwitter, although about another person. For those who aren’t familiar, “Zwitter” means “hermaphrodite”, and the song is about how happy he feels to be both genders. Similarly in Ladyboy he sings about a passionate love for his ladyboy, in what is actually a really beautiful way – combined with the fury of not being able to express his love when he growls out “Why should I laugh when I can’t have fun with my Ladyboy?” This was the first song the duo wrote, and came from the German-speaking Till trying to explain his feelings about the subject to the Swedish/American Tägtgren – English was the only language they both knew, however little.
I’m not trying to say that Lindemann are going to win any LGBTQ awards or anything, but this theme of open-minded acceptance is prevalent on this album. “Fat”, which could have been an insulting song, is actually a roaring dancing industrial number about a man’s passion for heavily overweight women. It’s grotesque, and goes against the messages we are always taught about what is beautiful, but it’s actually lovely. When Till shouts “fat!” it’s with passion, not disgust. Complimenting these lyrics with tense violin music, church organs and heavy industrial beats gives you a real headbanger of a song, with a fantastic anthemic element. I expect it would be a real treat to see this played live.
Before you go ahead thinking that Till Lindemann is some kind of fetishistic sex pest, remember kids – songs don’t always have to be autobiographical! Till himself has noted in an interview that he enjoys getting inside the minds of others, finding what they want and hate – although to be fair, he also said that he wouldn’t object to an overweight woman approaching him (knowing that makes me feel a lot better about my chances if I should ever meet him).
Ladyboy has the same kind of classic industrial breakdown that appears later in the form of Praise Abort, the album’s single. Praise Abort is a clear leading single – it’s industrial-metal enough that it could be one of Rammstein’s stranger songs (think Pussy or Amerika) but also has an excellent tongue-in-cheek electronic element.
Songs like Fish On, Cowboy and Golden Shower are just insanely fun. The first begins with a strong electronic dance vibe and is a ridiculous and slightly gross kind of a song – the lyrics are pure Till, while the tune is clearly a result of Tägtgren’s experience with electronic industrial. The crude sexual imagery is hilarious, and the ethereal female singing adds a wonderful juxtaposition to it all. Cowboy was one of the first leaked songs of the album and it’s obviously going to be a hit as it’s just such good fun to dance to!
The lyrics are based on that childhood dream to be a cowboy – with perhaps a little cynicism for America for good measure – and the failure of not living up to that dream. It’s funny, sexual, and once you know the lyrics it’s surprisingly hard not to sing along; another song that would go down very well at a live show! Also, there’s a banjo interlude.
In the middle of the album it falls back to that real Rammstein feeling – slow, headbanging industrial with Till’s terribly creepy voice. In terms of tone, Children of the Sun and Home Sweet Home are almost pure Neue Deutsche Härte, a very specific genre of music which covers bands such as Megaherz, Oomph!, Emigrate, Eisbrecher and – of course – Rammstein. It’s usually used to describe a heartfelt industrial-metal sound and on these songs in particular it’s a much more pronounced sound.
These songs are also gentle reminders that Till Lindemann is a poet at heart, and Home Sweet Home is especially emotive, reminding me of the Rammstein song Nebel which always had a profound effect on me. Like Nebel, it’s the kind of song that makes you feel nostalgic and homesick, with just a touch of hope or, at least, a glimmer of happiness in the memory, and it’s almost certainly appreciated best with your eyes shut. Home Sweet Home could easily be a Rammstein song, although I don’t mean to diminish Tägtgren’s influence and incredible production skills.
Golden Shower particularly shows off Tägtgren’s style, starting slowly and dramatically before suddenly launching into some fairly serious metal – it especially feels like his death metal influences are coming through here. The lyrics to the song are disgusting – I won’t go into details as I’m sure you can guess – but if it were in German instead of English, the singing would probably sound something like Du Riechst So Gut. He also makes prolific use of the c-word, which is bound to put off a few people because trust me, you’ll be shouting it along with him after a listen or towo. The music veers between heavy metal and electronica with that driving industrial drumbeat backing it all up.
Yukon harkens back to that Neue Deutsche Härte style but with an 80s goth-pop synth that turns the catchy tune into something reminiscent of Gary Numan or Depeche Mode. Yukon is the name of a major river running through British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska that was the site of a mass prospector migration – hence “I want your gold but you want my life.” It was the last great gold rush, and of the 100,000 stampeders only around 30 – 40,000 made it, while the others died or gave up and turned back. It seems to be really about the unstoppable power of river, although he certainly ascribes the river female attributes.
Fun fact: while most people accept that the source of the Yukon is the Llewellyn Glacier in British Columbia, others believe it to come from Lake Lindeman. Coincidence? I think so!
I’ve already mentioned Praise Abort, but it deserves its own little section. There’s a very good reason why this was the lead single of the album – it’s probably the best song on the album, especially at first listen. If you couldn’t tell from the song title, it’s not going to be for everyone, and apparently the band have a crew of lawyers on hand just waiting for someone to kick off about it. Also, like Golden Shower, you will find yourself gleefully shouting “p-p-p-praise abort!” when Till does, so watch for that in public.
It’s a great mix of music though – pop-industrial synths interspersed with heavy chugging industrial guitars and a weirdly groovy tone running underneath every hate-filled word that spills from Till’s mouth. Later on in the breakdown we get a haunting female backing track to compliment Till’s gravel-like growling. Again, this song isn’t about him, and his two children are okay with it! The video is also something pretty special – pregnant ballerinas and Till doing the moonwalk are just two especially good bits.
That’s My Heart is the final song on the album, and one I wasn’t sure whether to discuss. It’s certainly one I needed to listen to a few times to really “get it” – it might not be the same for everyone but I’ve always needed more time to appreciate the slower, more sincere Rammstein songs and this is no different.
Basically, Till Lindemann can do virtually anything and make it beautiful, and it seems like he’s met a musical match in Peter Tägtgren. It may not be Rammstein (who are incidentally starting to work on another album this year – hooray!) but it’s not meant to be. It’s a thoroughly interesting experiment that came about as a result of two incredibly strange men wanting to make bizarre music together, and it’s a freaking masterpiece.
Fingers crossed for a second album!