Both Rammstein and its front man, Till Lindemann, have quite a fan base in Russia. Lindemann has given several solo concerts in the country and had plans to perform in Novosibirsk and Moscow at the end of this year as part of his "Ich hasse Kinder" ("I Hate Kids") tour. He canceled them following the Russian attack on Ukraine, but he pledged to play a concert scheduled in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv if circumstances allow.
On its website, Rammstein took a clear stance against the war and in support of Ukrainians. In a statement in German, Ukrainian and Russian, the band said it's particularly saddened by the suffering of Ukrainians. "Each member of the band has different experiences with the two countries; all musicians have friends, colleagues, partners and fans in Ukraine and Russia."
The band said it is aware of the despair that many Russian fans feel in the face of their government's actions, and they want to "remind people of the humanity that Russian and Ukrainian citizens share."
Lindemann recently joined the many volunteers helping out at Berlin's main train station, where many Ukrainian refugees have arrived in recent days.
'Russia, we love you'
Since the turn of the millennium, the German band has been hugely popular with Russian fans. To some, their hard metal sound is reminiscent of German war aesthetics while also evoking Soviet heroism, the power of the proletariat and masculinity.
Authorities, on the other hand, have been wary of the band since a 2019 concert in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium during which Rammstein guitarists Richard Kruspe and Paul Landers kissed on stage — an absolute no-go in Putin's Russia, which introduced what is known as the gay propaganda law in 2013 and has harassed and persecuted members of the LGBTQ+ community ever since.
Afterwards, a photo of the kiss was posted on social media along with the words: "Russia, we love you." Many fans were delighted while politicians made it clear the band must refrain from such performances in Russia in the future.
Soviet war song and NFT
However, in the spring of 2021, the Kremlin celebrated Lindemann for recording "Lubimiy Gorod," a Soviet war song. In September that same year, he performed the song live at a military festival on Moscow's Red Square to standing ovations. The performance came just one week after Russian police spoke to the Rammstein singer, in the country for a music festival, reportedly in connection with a violation of coronavirus precautions. In the end, the festival was canceled.
Two weeks before that encounter, Lindemann got into trouble with the Hermitage in St. Petersburg over a music video that shows him at the world-renowned museum while singing "Lubimiy Gorod." While the museum had allowed filming the music video, it did not authorize Lindemann's plan to sell stills from the video as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that showed the interior of the museum.
New single focuses on death
Rammstein's latest project is a new album, which has been in the works for quite some time. A single from the album was released on Thursday. The lyrics of "Zeit" (Time) express a wish that time would stand still because one is not ready to die, but death takes no heed. In the video, scenes are played backwards. There are soldiers and partisans, births take place, people die, and death is an omnipresent figure in a black hooded cape that is faceless, though not frightening.
"Zeit" doesn't hit the spot like many other Rammstein songs. The lyrics are more pensive, the song has very quiet passages. However, in this time and day, Rammstein may have come up with just the right song — after all, it will be heard in Ukraine and Russia, too.
This article has been translated from German.