Last year saw the release of the first Rammstein album in ten years. It also saw the return of Lindemann, a side project of Rammstein’s vocalist, Till Lindemann, also featuring multi-instrumentalist Peter Tagtgren (best known for death metal band Hypocrisy and industrial piece, PAIN). The two hadn’t worked together since 2015’s Skills in Pills, a controversial debut that was – unusual for Lindemann – entirely in English. But like Lindemann, incredibly graphic and uncomfortable at the best of times.
This time round though, the band have given us F & M, which is entirely in Lindemann’s mother tongue, and just as disturbing. As a result, the review for this album may discuss themes or concepts that prove distressing for some. It is Lindemann, after all, not for the faint of heart.
The album opens with the titanic ‘Steh Auf’, with drumwork like thunder that kicks off one of the best songs on it. The strings present accompany a powerful, if bitter, track on the effects of drugs on a child’s mother, and their seemingly innocent reaction to it. It’s dark and Lindemann to the core, but it was our first taste of the album and it sounds great. The chorus (German for ‘stand up’) just pumps away. The guitar is sublime, and adds to this relentless anthem.
‘Ich weis es nicht’ opens with Lindemann’s distorted vocals coming naturally over a chugging riff that proves one of the more industrial tracks off the album. The chorus is grand, much in the same vein of ‘Zeig Dich’, a song off the newest Rammstein record. ‘Ich weis es nicht’ was the second single from the album, and it’s not bad at all. The lyrics seem to deal with forgetting one’s identity – whether literal or metaphorical – but regardless, pumps away.
‘Allesfresser’ is one of the weirder tracks on F & M, lyrically not too dissimilar from something off of the band’s first record, Skills in Pills, ‘Fat’. It’s heavily graphic and vivid on what the narrator likes to eat, with the title’s literal translation as ‘Omnivore’. However, once again it packs a grand chorus with background vocals and is one of the standout non-singles of the suite.
Is ‘Blut’ about self-harm, suicide, or just murder? It features some of the more cryptic lyrics on the album, and is one its slower tracks, building up to each chorus instead of battering into it. Possibly one of the more forgettable pieces, but it’s nice to see the Lindemann pair do something other than unforgiving industrial for once – it’s the first sign that this album is a more eclectic piece than their first.
‘Knebel’ is quite possibly the album’s finest track. Most of the song is an acoustic easy-strummer, albeit discussing how much the narrator (most likely pure Lindemann) likes seeing a gag in an unnamed girl’s mouth. The video is even more graphic (with all-out nudity and sexual acts at times), foreshadowing the song’s climax which is an unexpected battery on the ears. Who knows if Lindemann is just trying to shock the listener (as is so often the case), or feels it needed the ‘Puppe’ treatment (see the latest Rammstein album for answers)? But it’s beautiful nonetheless, with Lindemann practically screaming at you (and who doesn’t want that?).
The title track, ‘Frau & Mann’ has some really catchy guitar at the beginning, with a simple chant for the listeners to call along to at concerts. It doesn’t fall short as is the case with many titular pieces, though the lyrics do prove woefully simple (essentially listing various opposites of eachother, such as ‘Dark or light, slow or fast’). The video is also a great watch.
‘Ach so gern’ is the most unexpected track of the set, almost comically so upon first listen. It sounds like something out of a 1940’s Parisian cabaret show, with a simple backbeat and flushes of Spanish guitar. But it’s remarkably charming and catchy, with Lindemann matching the more elegant notes skillfully. An unexpected but infectious gem. Don’t worry though, the lyrics – as always – are deceptively dark, dealing with the narrator’s apparent sex addiction and abuse of women, despite their lack of consent.
‘Schlaf Ein’ has a much more epic scope, with horns and piano instantly telling us this is no ‘Steh Auf’. What starts out as some innocent ode to ‘Grandfather Sleep’, bringing peace to children, slowly turns into a piece that – suspiciously so at times – harps on about blocking out some traumatic event. ‘Schlaf Ein’ reaches a beautiful crescendo in its chorus, however, and remains a testament to the gentler side of Lindemann.
‘Gummi’ has a distorted, fast-paced opening (much akin to Skills in Pills’ ‘Fish On’) is in stark contrast to the last track; reminding you that, no, you are still listening to a Lindemann album. ‘Gummi’ is a song dedicated to the narrator’s love for all things rubber, likening them to a second skin he wishes never to take off. Now that’s more like it (by which I’m referring to the song’s graphic nature, not the lyrics specifically. Honestly) – It’s a decent track but nothing standout.
The video to ‘Platz Eins’ features outright porn of singer Till Lindemann (you can look it up if you really want to), which should set the tone already. ‘Platz Eins’ discusses the narrator’s fame and success, proclaiming himself ‘number one’, which works given the band and its legendary – or notorious – reputation. It’s bizarre live, bizarre on video, and mediocre in sound. It opens strongly, but the chorus is nothing special, in all honesty. A shame, but still listenable – Tagtgren’s synth really stands out on this track.
The album closes with ‘Wer weis das schon’, itself opening with sorrowful piano. The song deals with someone believing the world has abandoned them. Its lyrics discuss loving life, but life does not seem to love them, or loving the sun when it does not love them back. Whether it’s coming from Lindemann’s heart or not doesn’t really matter. We can all resonate with this message at some point in our lives unfortunately, and it’s a terrible thing. It’s interesting to note Lindemann’s use of it as a closer – in remarkable contrast to the stomping opener, ‘Steh Auf’ (though not much cheerier in lyrical nature). But all the same, it is a powerful, poignant and grandiose closer (especially after the glory and joy of ‘Platz Eins’). The way the song seems to tragically cut itself short, too, speaks volumes. Hats off to Lindemann for this one, even if it’s not perhaps the catchiest track.
Overall, Lindemann’s F & M is a more eclectic and mixed piece than Skills in Pills, but sonically rocks and frocks in its dark lyrics, sexual themes and massive choruses. It builds from their debut, adding to it in so many ways. I’m rather annoyed I didn’t book tickets to see them live – they are spectacular as a live act – but regardless, the album is more than enough; a strong recommendation for fans of their previous effort, Rammstein, metal or stomping rock in general.
Not for the faint of heart, though.