Lindemann – Skills in Pills
The debate has raged for many a year. Who was the world’s first rock star? Some say it was Mozart. He certainly fits the bill; being a genius child prodigy. A kind of Justin Bieber, but with real talent.
My vote goes with those who say it was Beethoven. He was the first well known musician to be castigated in the press for trashing a hotel room. He invented the riff – the opening notes of his fifth symphony have been ‘aped’ by rock bands such as Led Zeppelin ‘Whole Lotta Love’, Deep Purple ‘Smoke on the Water’, Jethro Tull ‘Aqualung’. And he hammered down on the piano keys so hard he would routinely break the strings.
So what’s all this got to do with the debut album from Lindemann? Well, I believe this is the album that Beethoven would have written, if he’d had access to a distortion peddle.
Till Lindemann is the front man of ‘Rammstein’. The band are on a hiatus and Lindemann has decided to fill his time by writing a second book of poetry and recording this album with his friend Peter Tägtgren, of Swedish metal band ‘Pain’.
The album is a sledge hammer, the kind you’d need if breaking into a safe-deposit box in Hatton Garden. It’s bold, expressive, even operatic in parts and crafted by two confident musicians at the top of their game.
It is also highly controversial because of the topics it covers; something else Lindemann has in common with Beethoven who had the premiere of his only opera canceled on the same grounds.
The first track is a case in point. ‘Cowboy’ deals with the issue of male prostitution. It’s a song that bounces along from start to finish carried aloft on a wave of synthesizers and grinding guitars.
Next up is ‘Fat’ which begins with an ecclesiastical organ which is soon overtaken by pounding drums, and a string section on overdrive. The topic of this song is sexual attraction towards obese women.
‘Fish On’ is the third track, and the most Rammstein-esque on the album. The song intersperses heavy metal guitars with more pounding drums.
Then there’s a song called ‘Golden Shower’ which is about, err……….4 minutes long.
The subject of the song ‘Ladyboy’ is equally self-evident and it’s at this point you start to recover from the shock-rock of the previous tracks and begin to notice the genuine humour which Lindemann brings to his lyric writing. This is most apparent on ‘Praise Abort’ in which Lindemann sings: “I hate my wife, and I hate my boyfriend too”. This is the most controversial song on the album, which is perhaps why Lindemann chose it to be the first single (with a beautifully filmed, but equally controversial, video).
The title track ‘Skills in Pills’ passes you buy without the need for much comment, and unfortunately the same can be said for the remaining three tracks. There appears to have been an almost formulaic approach to the production of the album, seemingly involving all the instruments being set at the same level on the mixing desk, which results in a wall of sound that consequently lacks depth. Compare this with the production on Rammstein’s last studio album, ‘Liebe ist für alle da’ which had real poise.
That said this is not a bad album, especially if you like ‘Naughty Metal’. However the phrase “this album will not appeal to everyone” has never been more appropriate. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted. That won’t bother Lindemann though. He’s interested in exploring subjects that others leave well alone, and as Beethoven said: “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.”