Rammstein's first album was about what was to be expected from a bunch of Germans who happily grew up on everything from Skinny Puppy to Depeche Mode to Laibach and back again, not to mention plenty of skull-crushing metal straight up. Precisely brutal and often brilliantly arranged -- the band aren't per se inventive, but they bring everything together to make something astonishingly radio-friendly out of something that isn't necessarily -- HERZELEID in particular is the logical conclusion of KMFDM's self-referential electro-metal. The band freely invokes its own name throughout the way that group did in its songs -- the final tune is called "Rammstein," to top it all off -- and the riffs readily connect the dots between the older band's clipped guitar bursts and their even more compressed nu-metal equivalents. The swaggering sass and stomp of "Wollt Ihr das Bett in Flammen Sehen" makes for a near-perfect start, and from there the band merrily -- without a smile on its collective face -- has a great, loud-as-hell time. The downside is that the formula is in some ways so perfected they don't vary it much -- verses with roiling basses and stomping drums, cascading feedback apocalypse and sometimes squelchy samples adding textures and beats as needed. But there's more there than might be guessed -- the sternly beautiful choruses on "Der Meister," soothing keyboards suggesting a "we all march forward!" anthem for the modern day, the nods toward jungle/drum'n'bass on songs like "Asche zu Asche," the full-on goth/Depeche-into-metal love of "Heirate Mich" and "Laichzeit." Then there's "Seemann," a power ballad actually worthy of the name, the type of song sung looking out over the Baltic Sea as the sun sets and you contemplate angst to the nth degree. If you're going to go, go big.
AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett