Rammstein - Rosenrot
I used to love the band back when I was 15, I had the first 3 studio albums, and Live Aus Berlin and went to see them live, but had lost interest by the time 'Reise Reise' was released, and don't think I even bothered listening to it all properly when my friend lent me it, as it wasn't very impressive from what I could tell, and all the reviews I read of it weren't particularly favourable.
The time is now. I now have a snazzy digipack of their latest album, Rosenrot, which according to an equally snazzy online translation service, means 'roses red' (Red Roses?), and is actually the 'leftovers' from the Reise Reise album that the band felt were strong enough to make into a standalone release, in the same way System of a Down felt the need to make us buy 'Steal this Album'. As already said, I've really not listened to the Reise Reise album properly, so I can't compare it to the material that did make it onto the album, just to the 3 studio albums that went before that.
It seems Rammstein have grown up a little in the few years I've not followed them. No longer are there any 'Buch Dicks' or 'Zwitter's. The songs seem more mature (although I could be totally wrong, as the lyrical matter could concern pulling girls panties down in a school playground for all I know, for my mastery of the German language consists of about three words). The songs nowadays seem to neither have mind-crushing moments of old industrial Rammstein, nor are there any dancey parts. Goddamn, I can't even say they're an anthemic pop-metal band now, I'd have to class them as melodic metal. The keyboardist seems to have taken more of a back role nowadays in the band too, and there is also more 'proper' singing by Till Lindeman, as opposed to his gruff German shouts of old. Hell, there is even a track (Stirb nicht vor mir) where Till duets with Texas' Sharleen Spiteri (though it must be added that her English words, and his German words dueting together isn't done too well in my opinion).
On this album, there is a mixture of material - good and bad. The songs range from 'really cool', to 'bollocks'. Low points include "Te Quiero Puta" - a Spanish language song that's all over the place and just doesn't flow, and "Ein Lied", which is quite simply put: dull. The album should have finished with the very cool "Feuer und Wasser", which has some of the coolest guitar work from Rammstein I've ever heard, and has a great build up. Other such high points, for me, include title-track “Rosenrot” which is very tight, and they stick the good chorus in as much as they can in the 4 minutes. "Wo bist du?" is like the Rammstein of old, with Till going back to his old pure style, and the dancey edge of older albums is back, fantastic, and the keys come out of the background, finally, to make the track (probably) my favourite on the album. "Mann gegen Mann" is also more reminiscent of old Rammstein, and is a really cool song (as long as you can tolerate the rather irritating drum sound used in this track).
The album isn't essential, but neither is it a bad album. More than half the album is very good melodic metal, it's only let down in places, by weak sections and songs. It's certainly not the super-fun Rammstein of old, but a more mature Rammstein (even the album artwork is more mature than ever!). If you're already a fan of the band, then certainly get it, but it's not a good place to start if you're looking for a first album to buy from them. I'm not sure it would stand up to many repeated listens, but it's worth a listen at the very least.