Rammstein “Sehnsucht”


(22 Aug 1997, Slash)

Today is the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the protestant reformation. It has now been half a millennium since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church of Wittenburg.

What does this have to do with anything?
I was reading the Economist¹ and it said: “To Luther music was a divinely inspired weapon against the devil.”

That struck me as somewhat odd, having listened to the music of such artists as Glenn Danzig, Ghost and Luther’s countrymen Rammstein.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Rammstein. But they’re about as far from “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” as it’s possible to get. I love heavy industrial music and these guys are up there with the best of them. Not only do they have brutal, punishing thrash-metal guitar riffs driving the songs and great danceable beats, but this album features some of the best keyboard work I’ve ever heard. Some of the sounds had to have been placed in a time capsule because I swear they came straight from the eighties but they don’t sound dated.

And singing in German just goes to help establish their heavy metal bona fides. Is there any better language for metal than German? I love the language because no matter what you say it sounds like you’re really, really angry. The coolest thing about listening to singing in another language is being able to focus on the melody instead of the message. And from what I’ve heard, the message in most Rammstein songs is horrible.

I’m embarrassed to say the first time I’ve listened to this entire album was for this review. I still remember seeing the terrifying video for “Du Hast” which I think is still they’re biggest hit in the US, but I enjoy other tracks just as much. “Engel” has a whistled intro that makes me think of that other German metal band, The Scorpions. “Klavier” is notable as being the lone ballad on the album. Most of the other tracks blend into each other, but they all have those great vocals, driving riffs and beautiful keys.

This might not be the kind of music Luther was talking about when he used the term “divinely inspired,” but it’s not as evil as other bands Germans like… such as David Hasselhoff.

 

¹.  Anonymous. “Nailed it.” The Economist. 7 January 2017: 45. Print

 

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9 thoughts on “Rammstein “Sehnsucht”

    • There’s a lot of similarities between the songs. It definitely takes a few listens before you can tell them apart. But it’s definitely something to check out on Spotify.

      Liked by 1 person

        • I’m in no means fluent, so I had to double check Google Translate, but your German friend’s translation is the correct one. The proper title is “Du Hast”, with just one “s” in “hast”. “Hast” is a conjugated form of the verb “haben” (second person singular, as “Du” means “you”), which means “to have”. (I think “haben” is also an irregular verb, as the root of the verb differs from form to form, as first person singular, I believe, is “Ich habe”, second person singular is “Du hast”, and third person singular is “Er hat” for masculine, “Sie hatte” for feminine, and “Es hat” for neuter. First person plural is “Wir haben” and third person plural is “Sie haben”.)

          The confusion between translations arises from a spelling issue. The version that has the translation as “You Hate” is translated from the similarly-spelled title “Du Hasst”, with 2 s’s. “Hasst” is the second person singular form of the verb “hassen” (again, indicated by the pronoun “du”), which means “to hate”. The similarities in pronunciation allows for a lot of wordplay in German, and Rammstein is especially noted for their wordplay in their songs (one that comes to mind for me is their song “Los”, especially the line “Sie sind Gott…los”, which could be translated as either “They were God…go” or if the line is written as “Sie sind gottlos”, then it means “They were godless.”), and this one is no different.

          Supposedly the lyrics in “Du Hast” are modeled after German language wedding vows, although a search of Wikipedia or elsewhere on the Internet can reveal a lot of intricate wordplay within the lyrics of this song. It’s pretty ingenious, if you think about it…but it would take quite a bit of time to look into all the punnery that goes into Rammstein’s songs. An interesting case study, in my opinion.

          Liked by 2 people

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