RAMMSTEIN – Reise, Reise


Universal Music
Release date: September 27, 2004

Guitars: B-
Bass: B+
Percussion: B-
Keyboards: B+
Vocals: C-
Lyrics: German
Recording Quality: A
Originality: A
Overall Rating: B+

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The one truly great thing about the band Rammstein is the fact that no other band anywhere sounds quite like Rammstein. In this band’s 4th release, Reise, Reise (translated as Travel, Travel), Rammstein again ensures the reputation of being the most unique band out there, regardless of the genre, is upheld. The band’s commitment to their mother-tongue by continuing to sing nearly all of their lyrics in German, further solidifies Rammstein’s novelty.

Reise, Reise shows a continued maturity and progression in song development and writing by the band. Although profoundly different than anything Rammstein has done to date, in retrospect, Reise, Reise indeed fits perfectly in the band’s studio 4-pack progression. 1995 introduced the band to the world with Herzeleid, which was a very straightforward and somewhat simple Power/Industrial Metal album. Sehnsucht, a few years later, focused more on bone-crushing Industrial/Techno Metal with crude power and aggression, and had a definitive direction not present on their first album, thus opening many eyes to a new sound and pure power chord driven song configurations. Mutter, though still predominantly Industrial Metal, contained periodic experimentation by the band, especially with keyboard fills, varying song tempos, and vocal varieties not found in their first 2 albums. Reise, Reise is still by and large a heavy and aggressive album, but Rammstein almost crosses the line into Progressive Metal this time around … not completely, for sure, but the tendencies are indeed inching in and evident.

Reise, Reise is produced about as well as an album can be produced. The album emits a well-rounded and full bass emphasis without giving the feel of being muddy or weighed down. The vocals, though consistently awful from a pure musical standpoint (as in all of their prior efforts), are volumed down a bit this time, and like in Mutter, come through with wide stylistic variety, and mesh very well with the music. In general, the sound of the instruments, and their presence and volume are just about perfect at every turn, and certainly do justice to the complex ambience of this album.

Unlike in Sehnsucht, the guitar work in Reise, Reise is typically less bone-crushing … although still power chord driven in most songs, Rammstein delves into the acoustical realm in the song “Los,” and there’s even a solo (sort of) in “Amerika” and “Amour!” Similarly, the drums don’t sound like they’re being hit with a sledgehammer in this album, but the playing is solid and provides a good structural framework for the songs. The bass guitar indeed shines in Reise, Reise … you’re not going to hear the complexity or speed of a Steve Harris from Iron Maiden in this album, but the skillful and catchy playing here allows for the bass tone focus and feel to manifest itself.

Above all else in Reise, Reise, the atmosphere provided by the keyboards is the most prevalent feature to this album. In most songs, Rammstein chooses to utilize the keyboards by holding and extending the duration of just a few notes. The sound of these notes and chords provides a catastrophic undercurrent to the feel of the vast majority of the songs. Though difficult to describe, the keyboards provide an aggressively distraught mood to this album … sort of like if you went to bed one night and everything around you was fine and dandy before you went to sleep, then when you awake in the morning, you find that everything as far as your eye can see has been splintered and destroyed without explanation or discernable cause. The keyboard work provides a feeling of doom, despair, anger, and disbelief all wrapped up together … truly a work of art.

Another purposeful aspect to Rammstein’s songwriting in Reise, Reise is the off-tempo interludes within many of the songs. The band has been successful with this practice in the past, and essentially what they do is write-in segments to the songs where either the vocals are just slightly out of time with the music, or the music is just slightly out of time with itself. In this album, an effective means of eliciting this same feel of catastrophic doom, despair, anger, and disbelief is accomplished by including periodic segments in many of the songs where it almost sounds like you’re listening to a vinyl record that has a few warped sections within it, causing eerie vacillating playback speed “distortion.”

Wrap all of these musical and mood characteristics together and you indeed have a very solid and unique album by Rammstein. The band is to be commended for sticking to their guns (again) and choosing to sing in their native German language, but clearly for some, this is an immediate turn-off to their music, regardless of how good it is. Some say, on the other hand, that the “rough” aspects of the German language mesh well with Rammstein’s “crude” and aggressive musical approach and add a special element to their style.

Song-wise, only 2 tracks, “Mein Teil” and “Morgenstern” follow the brutal “customary” Rammstein musical model of old. The rest of the tracks have qualities that make them notably different than previous works. For example, “Los,” arguably the best song on the album, not only utilizes an acoustic guitar, but throws in some harmonica too. Several songs also utilize choir and orchestra arrangements, the song “Moskau” features significant female vocals provided by Viktoria Fersh, a mandolin can be heard during “Ohne Dich,” and there’s even an accordion meshed into the title track. This is an album that is way beyond casual listening … although most people will need a translator to understand the gist of the German lyrics, the complex moods and underlying and deliberate musical patterns within most of the songs are best suited for solitary or headphone listening. Of the 11 tracks on the album, 9 are complete winners, with only “Keine Lust” and “Stein Um Stein” falling short of the others.

Overall, Rammstein is to be applauded for again putting out another high quality album. Kudos especially are in order for the band again not being afraid to delve into something very different (in many ways) from previous efforts, and pulling it off successfully. If you want an album that prompts you to take an iron bar to your Volkswagen in rage, this one may not be for you, but if you’re the type of Heavy Rock fan who appreciates the effort of novelty, and aren’t afraid to put in the time to understand it … Reise, Reise is a can’t miss gem that is definitely worth the trip to the record store!


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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