Till Lindemann, frontman for Rammstein, and Peter Tägtgren of Pain have released F& M, their second album, following 2015’s Skills in Pills. The most noticeable de-velopment from their first album is that on F&M all lyrics are now sung in German, whereas the earlier album made use of a teasingly accented English and tended to luxuriate in more extreme subject matter. These minor changes aside, all of the hallmarks of the Neue Deutsche Härte remain in place with special significance given to the possibility of expanding to-wards the theatrical and operatic, even as the album remains with both booted feet firmly planted in the hard rock end of the industrial metal spectrum.

On display across the album’s 15 tracks are all the pomp and theatricality one might expect from both Rammstein and Pain and, indeed, the other core bands at the Germanic center of the genre. There are pounding drums and guitars aplenty for sure, but also operatic choruses, lots of strings and through it all, Till Lindemann’s always-satisfying basso rumble, the perfect counterpoint to squealing solos and chugging riffs.

Album opener and single “Steh auf!” (“Stand Up!”) kicks off in fine form, matching its mid-tempo rocking with orchestral stabs, sampled choirs and all the grand gestures that so typify both Lindemann and Rammstein. The accompanying music video, directed by Zoran Bihac,
continues the fun and features Peter Stormare in a pleasingly batty performance. The pace barely shifts into the second track “Ich weiß es nicht” (“I Don’t Know”) which adds more synths but holds the commitment to providing solid gritty riffs for such lyrical insights as “Und die Wolken ziehen immer weiter, weiter/ Am Ende, nass bin immer ich” (“And the clouds keep passing by always, keep passing by/ Eventually I am always wet”). “Schlaf ein” (“Go to Sleep”) is a piano-led, nightmare-tinged lullaby from the same kind of cultural impetus that gave the world Struwwelpeter and contains the calming advice“Da ist doch gar kein Blut zu seh-en/ Ihr müsst jetzt schlafen gehen” (“There’s no more blood to see/ You must go to sleep now”).

“Mathematik” drops the guitars for a spacey synth and drum machine, underlying the unpleasant-ness of the chorus (“Fuck, fuck, fuck maths/ Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck her hard”) with a decidedly spooky soprano, while “Gummi” (“Rubber”) and “Allefresser” (“All Eaters”) both fly the flag for sleazier Ministry-esque romps, with the latter being a paean to the delights of an omniv-orous palate. And for all the stadium-friendly flourishes, the album also breaks with expectations with “Knebel” (“Gag”) hiding Till’s fascination with peep-show eroticism inside two-thirds of an acoustic guitar folk song, which, at the refrain “Ich hasse dich/ Ich hasse dich” (“I hate you/ I hate you”) explodes back into form.

Through it all, what is left at the end of F&M is a sense of fun being had, for all the throbbing guitars and relentless four-to-the-floor rock beats. Superficially, there’s not a lot to dis-tinguish F&M from many of Rammstein’s or PAIN’s more overtly theatrical flourishes, but where in Rammstein Till’s bent towards performance art is reined in by the group dynamic, here Tägtgren gives him all the space he needs to rollick in those themes. Ultimately, it’s the desire to experiment with the genre that lifts this sophomore album above its genre bedfellows and while some of the twisting flourishes might not land entirely, they make for an experience that’s interesting enough to bear repeated listens.

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