Rammstein: Live Aus Berlin Review
Back in 1999 I purchased the soundtrack to The Matrix and while I enjoyed practically every track on there one in particular stood out for no reason other than it seriously rocked! That track was Du Hast from (for me anyway) an unknown German band under the name of Rammstein. Having always been someone who pays minimal attention to the meaning of any music’s lyrics I was not at all bothered with the song being in German, instead I was particularly enamoured by their hard hitting sound, powerful but well defined riffs and in particular the lead singers growling vocals that get across the meaning of the song despite the obvious language barrier.
After picking up their stunning debut album Herzeleid and the equally accomplished follow-up Sehnsucht I have been enjoying their industrial style brand of Hard Rock for just over two years now and although I have always been intrigued by their non-album specific music (both live and original tracks) it was not until their third album, Mutter, which exceeded all expectations and eventually led me to make it my mission to attain this Live DVD (which is also available on CD). Recorded at 'Parkbuhne Wuhlheide' in Berlin on the 22nd and 23rd August 1998 this 90-minute concert sees Band Members Flake Lorenz (keyboards), Oliver Riedel (Bass), Christoph Schneider (drums), Paul Landers (guitar), Richard Z. Kruspe-Bernstein (guitar), and Till Lindemann (vocals) perform a total of 17 tracks over 90-minutes. Containing 9 tracks from Herzeleid, 7 tracks from Sehnsucht and 1 track that can only be found on the Engel (Fan Edition) Single CD this is a fantastic line up that really gives you a feel for their gripping sound.
Having heard several live tracks from Rammstein before I had an idea of what to expect but I was never quite prepared for the outstanding sound they achieve when performing live that manages to be both faithful to the studio recordings but offers that little something extra that all good live performers manage which comes down to those small changes and the extra edge a live performance adds. I think I can safely leave it at 'they sound excellent live' but they take things a little bit further by putting on a thoroughly entertaining live show. From the unique costumes, silver hair and made up faces to the massive use of pyrotechnics that at one point sees vocalist Till Lindermann on fire this is a visual feast while they absolutely nail tracks like Engel by bringing in stage alterations or, in this case a guest vocalist 'Bobo' to perform in a cage! Other stand-out moments include the antics of Keyboards player Flake Lorenz who on-top of some quite amusing dance moves that he performs while playing comes out onto stage at one point to bring the house down by performing some utterly outrageous moves! What really adds to all this though is the genuine sense you get that the band are really enjoying themselves onstage as they put their all into the performance, and this really rubs off on the crowd who participate in a big way (and react to the band like I have heard no other crowd do and are easily audible when its their turn to complete a verse) and you, the viewer at home, who I guarantee will be head banging (long hair or not!) within minutes of the show!
Every track is a standout track, but a few do tend to stand proud amongst this fine litter. In particular the only non-album track Wilder Wein offers up a fine break from the hard hitting sounds to a more melodic tune that not only allows the crowd to simmer down but to also get caught up with the fine vocal performance and to enjoy the great acoustic guitar performed by Oliver, Paul and Richard Z. in sombreros! Heirate Mich has always been a favourite thanks to its classic heavy riffs that will be familiar to anyone who has seen the American Psycho Theatrical Trailer while, hell, they are all great OK!
Here is the complete track-listing for this DVD...
01. Spiel mit mir (6:20)
02. Herzeleid (3:58)
03. Bestrafe mich (3:51)
04 Weißes Fleisch (4:34)
05. Sehnsucht (4:25)
06. Asche zu Asche (3:26)
07. Wilder Wein (5:58)
08. Klavier (4:49)
09. Heirate mich (7:48)
10. Du reichst so gut (5:24)
11. Du hast (4:34)
12. Engel (6:33)
13. Rammstein (5:43)
14. Tier (3:42)
15. Laichzeit (5:13)
16. Wollt ihr das Bett in Flammen sehen? (6:23)
17. Seemann (8:26)
The DVD on trial here is the Australian release from Universal that comes packaged in what I thought was the now defunct 'Jewel' style DVD Case. Like the American counterpart this disc is R0 - All-Region compatible with the only difference between the two being the obvious NTSC/PAL Video Formats. I found the American release very hard to obtain, hence my decision to purchase this version.
Presented in Non-Anamorphic 1:85:1 Widescreen this is actually a very good quality transfer that despite lacking Anamorphic Enhancement still looks very good when zoomed in on a Widescreen TV. Detail levels are high, while colours and black reproduction is of a very high standard and contends with the night time setting exceptionally well resulting in very little smearing. When zoomed in on a Widescreen TV you will notice some slight changes in quality including some aliasing effects and some slight smearing but none of this is bad enough to be detrimental to your viewing pleasure.
The concert is available in both German 48khz PCM Stereo sound and as a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Both tracks are of a very high quality making full use of your audio capabilities while the 5.1 mix is one of the best I have heard on a Live Concert DVD making great use of the surround speakers for both crowd noise and for aspects of the music while the centre speaker does a great job of projecting Till's voice. The subwoofer use is also quite superb and allows you to really let-loose if you so wish too (remember, you control the sound levels!).
Three of the tracks are available in Multi-Angle format but rather than allow you to change on the fly when the concert is playing you must enter into a menu and select the tracks manually. Once into either Tier, Du Hast or the self-titled Rammstein you can choose from 1 of 6 camera angles to view the tracks from. This is a welcome feature and quite common to live concert DVDs but I particularly liked the usage here where the distinction between each angle was more obvious than other discs I have sampled.
The only other extra feature present is a 15-minute interview with the Band that is presented in Non-Anamorphic Widescreen and features optional English, French and Spanish subtitles. Interspersed with clips from their many excellent Music Videos (which would have made a great addition to the disc) we see the six members of Rammstein talk about how they got together, their success as a band, their thoughts on the music industry and even on cult director David Lynch. This is an interesting and informative watch although the Kids TV style pop-quiz towards the end is a little our of character.
Finally you will find some DVDRom content in the form of Fan Contest which provides you with a mini-quiz. Pass the first stage and you will be given the access code to watch a hidden feature in the form of the 'Stripped' Music Video which is accessible from the discs menu and is presented in Non-Anamorphic 1:85:1 Widescreen with DD2.0 Sound. Complete the second stage of the quiz and you will gain access to a hidden website where you can download a Rammstein screensaver (available for both Mac and PC owners) that is just about worth the effort!
Obviously the content is something you will either love, merely like or loathe - I for one love it and recommend it to any fans of Rammstein or those into heavy rock. The DVD is also quite superb offering a decent picture and excelling in the sound department while the included extra features are better than I expected and well worth a look, all of which makes the £12 asking price more than worth it.