As a long-time avid Rammstein fan, I was concerned that this was just a cuttings and scrapings collection following Reise Reise. I'd seen them testing Benzin live in Berlin during last year's tour and liked what I'd heard, but what about a whole album of stuff that basically wouldn't fit on Reise Reise? I needn't have worried. Sure, the first couple of listens left me a bit lukewarm, but then the usual Rammstein obsession bit.
Simply, Rosenrot presents us with the guts of a giant stadium rock album. Anybody who has seen them in concert will argue that Rammstein are the world's ultimate live act, and the biggest songs on Rosenrot are clearly crafted to deliver giant anthems on giant stages, with all the theatricals and pyrotechnics that that involves. Rosenrot might lack some of the musical subtleties evident across Mutter or in parts of other albums, but there is a lot to enjoy here.
A solid start with Benzin is followed by the heavyweight single Mann Gegen Mann. After that, we're into three consecutive anthems, building to the enormous Wo Bist Du which will one day be a live centrepiece to rival Sonne and Ich Will. We're on a massive roll now, and the impetus is perversely maintained by an agonizing operatic duet with Texas' Sharleen Spiteri. Bizarre as it may sound, this comes over as a sort of Coldplay riff into German Bryn Terfel into Sarah Brightman wail, which may sound nauseating, but is actually haunting, tender and magnificent. You'll be humming it for days. It also provides a decent vocal stretch for Till Linderman, proving that he has genuine range and depth beyond the usual.
Thereafter, there is less that's truly remarkable - they function perfectly well as solid album tracks, but there's not much of the single or the stadium about them. However, the Mexican buzz of Te Quiero Puta! provides a great tongue-in-cheek diversion, up there with Mein Teil from the last album, and sure to be a lot of fun on stage.
All in all, Rosenrot is excellent. It's not Mutter, but then no other album ever could be. However, there's much here to love, and it makes a great progression from Reise Reise, though probably not an ideal "introduction to Rammstein" for a casual observer. Stick with Herzeleid or Mutter for that, then grow into this. Whatever you do, get into Rammstein - there's nothing else like them.