The German heavy metal group’s songs are in its native tongue. But its thundering riffs and heavy pyrotechnics have the act translating quite well to U.S. audiences.
The group — singer Till Lindemann, guitarists Richard Kruspe and Paul Landers, keyboardist Christian “Flake” Lorenz, bassist Oliver Riedel and drummer Christoph Schneider — is famous for concerts with enough pyrotechnics to shame KISS in its heyday. Towering columns of flame erupt from the stage, and smoldering arrows are shot out into the audience. Lindemann might perform an entire song clad in a burning overcoat.
For Rammstein’s sold-out show at the Forum on Friday, flamethrowers are standing by.
“The singer, Till, doesn't know what to do when he's not singing,” Schneider said recently speaking by phone from Chicago, when asked how the band developed its extravagant theatrical flourishes. “He doesn't like to interact with the audience in the usual ways, like saying hello.”
Formed by the East German-born musicians after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Rammstein enjoyed its first success in the United States with the driving dark anthem “Du Hast.” That song, which featured the group’s signature mix of thundering riffs and Lindemann’s Teutonic baritone, earned a Grammy nomination in 1999 for best metal performance. The band played on the 1998 Family Values Tour with Korn and Limp Bizkit and had a cameo appearance in the 2002 Vin Diesel action movie “XXX,” making the group one of the few acts singing in a language other than English or Spanish to appeal to American audiences.
“I think one of the reasons is that this type of language goes very well with heavy metal music,” said Schneider, who said he grew up listening to bands like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. “We always get this reaction where people say even if they don't understand everything that we're singing about they're attracted by the music, just the way it sounds. For me, it the same when I was a kid and all the music I liked was all English language. I didn't get it what they were singing about. I had my own fantasy of what they might be singing about.”