Live, Loud ... And German!

See them in concert and you might just be lucky enough to catch the lead singer's human torch act.

Industrial rock is suffering through a crisis period, with Ministry's

latest going over like a proverbial Led Zeppelin, Marilyn Manson deserting

for glam rock, and NIN's upcoming epic, after an interminable wait, almost

certain to be labeled a disappointment by many. Yet while the genre has

never fully gained the respect of many rock critics, who seem to find it too

inorganic and aggressive for their tastes, it also seems true that without

"industrial," rock 'n' roll may have expired during the last decade and a

half from terminal tastefulness and oversensitivity. So it should be with a

sigh of relief that true rock fans everywhere greet this new live effort

from the raucous German outfit Rammstein, the most promising "industrial"

band to appear on the scene in a very long while.

Having made inroads in North America last year with the release of

Sehnsucht and the accompanying catchy single "Du Hast" (a

supercharged version of which appears on Live Aus Berlin) — and

having also received some unwelcome attention this year as one of the

supposed fave bands of the black-clad Columbine shooters Eric Harris and

Dylan Klebold — Rammstein return here with a bristling set from their

hometown of Berlin, providing ample evidence of both their prowess as a live

act and their burgeoning popularity. Feeding off the crackling energy of an

audience that sounds more like a bunch of high-spirited soccer hooligans

than the mopey goth types they've come to be associated with here,

Rammstein, on Live Aus

Berlin, proceed to singlehandedly revitalize the industrial genre,

mixing some Falco (remember him?)-like humor with Kraftwerk-styled

electronica and vintage Black Sabbath rawk riffs on songs such as their

signature "Rammstein" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Sehnsucht," and even throwing in an ironic

drum & bass club intro on the rocking "Bueck Dich" for

good measure.

Throughout, however, as sharp as the band is — and you could cut

yourself on this disc, believe me — it's theatrical singer Till

Lindemann who consistently steals the show, whether operatically emoting on

the humorous "Du Riechst So Gut" ([RealAudio excerpt] translation: "You Smell So Good"),

delivering the basso profundo goods on the acoustic (!) ballad

"Wilder Wein" (RealAudio excerpt) or anthemically crooning on the set-closer, "Seemann," from

the band's 1996 debut, Herzeleid. Even though you may not understand

a damn word Lindemann is singing, it's a tribute to him that a few songs

into this set, you won't really care anyway, so great is his ability to

project. A wild, wired and wacky good time, then, Live Aus Berlin

lives up to its name.