February 10, 2007
Movie Review By: SFAM
Directed by: Hamish Hamilton
Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High
Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Low
Reviewing Concert DVDs: As this is my first review of a concert DVD on Cyberpunk Review, I thought I’d mention a few words about my intentions. These will not be reviews of the actual bands, but of their performances – specifically of their performances in movies or concert DVDs. I won’t be “tagging” these posts so that they show up intermingled with my movie reviews. Also, while I have about 70 concert DVDs, and have reviewed them in one or two places, I have very few that I would consider cyberpunk, either by visuals or theme. Rage against the Machine, for instance, has the cyberpunk themes or ideas down in songs pretty solidly, whereas Rammstein, in this performance reviewed here, has what I might consider cyberpunk visuals down fairly well. Because I’m relatively new to cyberpunk concert DVDs, it wouldn’t be too surprising if after reviewing a number of them I updated my reviews somewhat. Finally, like the movies, my reviews will be based on the quality of the performance and production. Hopefully, you all can help update the Cyberpunk Wiki with some examples of other really great cyberpunk concert DVDs.
Overview: German’s Industrial Metal band Rammstein puts on a truly phenomenal show on DVD. Atmosphere and other-worldly cyberpunk-like ambiance are in abundant supply. Virtually every song has actual fire shooting out from the most unlikely places. On top of this, the band really RAWKS. That said, there may go a bit overboard on the glitz and flash. But you would never notice it from the way their audience reacts – they LOVE them!
The Visuals: The stage for Rammstein oozes with futuristic dystopia. Invasive metal is the order of the day. Tubes and piping pop out from all angles throughout the stage. The outfits Rammstein starts the performance out with fit perfectly. But throughout, it becomes clear that most every aspect of this performance has been wonderfully choreographed. Truly, Rammstein is putting on a show – and what a wonderful show it is!
The Cinematography: One of the most impressive aspects of this performance is that the MTV style camera work actually works wonderfully to add to the atmosphere. Usually when you get this style of quick-cutting camera work, you feel more like you’re in a music video. While this feeling comes through at first, the constant and supremely interactive crowd, which sings right along with the band, brings you into the concert. The overall feeling is both immersive and edgy. Often, the lead singer stops singing and points the microphone at the crowd, and EVERY TIME they are screaming back the exact lyrics, perfectly in time with the song.
The Band: Rammstein’s music is best characterized as brute force, crunchy and repetitive industrial metal. Most of the songs are driven by the drum player. The keyboardist is bizarre in the extreme, but then again, he fits right in. The guitarists have pale blue contact lenses, and pretty much everyone, from the ultra-muscular lead singer, Till Lindeman to the cyberpunk bassist really emphasizes performance as much as the music. However, the performance makes clear that Rammstein seem far more about show then they are ideas. Similar to Kiss here in the US, Rammstein is creating an immersive facade – one which the crowd is all to eager to take part in.
The Sound: The quality of the sound track is superb, but is not really done in surround-sound in the sense that say, the Eagles When Hell Freezes Over DVD is. You get mostly crowd noises out of the rear speakers, and band from the front speakers. This approach actually helps with the “front row” feeling, but it is at odds with the video-like shooting style. Had they gone for a straightforward Talking Heads “Stop Making Sense” type camera style, the sound would have fit better. But again, the quality is terrific. The band is completely tight throughout.
The Highlight: I first heard of Rammstein on the Matrix Soundtrack. Song #12, Du Hast, really hit me. While I couldn’t understand a word (as its all in German), I was blown away. In this concert, Rammstein REALLY comes hard on Du Hast. The whole thing is just magical. There’s a part where Lindeman completely stops singing (during the slow “Du Hast…Du Hast Mesh” part) adn the crowd does the entire thing PERFECTLY. Watching it, you get caught up in the moment.
The Bottom Line: I have somewhere between 70 concert DVDs and Rammstein’s Live aus Berlin performance definitely sits somewhere in the top tier. The performance is wonderfully choreographed, wonderfully shot, and the energy is contagious. The performance leaves with a sense of pure power. This truly is an experience not to be missed.