Rammstein has built their legacy on their otherworldly live performances, which masterfully combine heavy metal fury and enough crazy pyrotechnics to burn cities down. On their latest live concert film, they have teamed up with noted metalhead and fast rising director Jonas Akerlund, who once played drums in the legendary cult metal band Bathory. in case you questioned his metal credentials. He has also shot concert films for Beyonce and Taylor Swift. With a dizzying array of breathtaking cinematography, superb sound recording/mixing, and a devastating live performance, Paris will only add to the already legendary mystique of the band
Rammstein have seemingly found their movie counterpart in Akerlund, who seizes upon the band’s penchant for the obscene, outrageous, and overpowering aspects of their live performance, creating a living, breathing 98-minute film. To truly capture the might of a live Rammstein show is a considerable undertaking due to the unique stage set up that is constantly morphing and changing throughout the setlist. Akerlund and his army of camera operators have really outdone themselves in this aspect, getting some of the most interesting shots and camera angles ever attempted during a concert of this size
In many ways this film seems to be the exact opposite of the Jonathan Demme classic, Stop Making Sense, which captured a prime 80s performance of Talking Heads and eschewed many of the typical tropes found in concert movies such as quick edits and cuts, close ups on instrumental solos, and the panning out to see the entire audience, among a host of other innovations. Here, this ideal is totally inverted in favor of total sensory overload. Aklerlund does not spend more than a few seconds on any shot, blending in slow motion shots, eerie after image effects, and other more subliminal effects into the mix. This gives the film a dizzying quality to it, as if one were experiencing the show from the minds of every fan in the crowd all at once
The narrative of the film is pure chaos, which is a fitting way (and perhaps the only way) to truly capture the essence of Rammstein’s power. The film begins with a grainy shot of a catwalk being lifted down between the main stage and a smaller square stage set up in the middle of the audience. Then, Rammstein begins their long walk from the back of the Bercy Arena to the stage, skirting in between the throngs of audience members all while being led by a torch carrying Oliver Riedel. Eventually they make their way across the catwalk and onto the main stage as Riedel lights a massive cauldron on the side of the stage. Rammstein wastes no time ripping into the opening track, the lumbering “Sonne,” all while being flanked by a seemingly endless supply of fireworks and explosions.
Every single song that was played during the show featured some different combination of lights, flames, fireworks, explosions, and costume changes, with frontman Till Lindemann undergoing a great deal of changes throughout the film. The setlist was comprised of songs from each of Rammstein’s studio albums, with a few deep cuts from their early albums thrown in such as the bludgeoning “Wollt Ihr Das Bett In Flammen Sehen?” Of course, it should be noted for the uninformed out there that Rammstein songs are sung almost entirely in German, with Lindemann belting out the vocals in his trademark baritone. This made for an interesting dynamic as the rabid audience of 17,000+ fans sang along to almost every song, particularly during the band’s most well-known song, “Du Hast.” The song is based around a series of hard hitting and mechanical sounding guitar riffs, played in tandem by Paul H. Landers and Richard Z. Krupse while keyboardist Flake overlaid a subtle synth line before going into its well-known and powerful chorus. It was incredible to see and hear the whole audience chanting the chorus line in unison, and it was yet another powerful moment in a movie filled with them.
Perhaps the most important part of any concert film is the music, specifically the mixing and mastering of the show, which is done masterfully here. All the raw power and ferocity of a live Rammstein show is on full display, which helps to greatly enhance the overall viewing experience. The drum sound of Christoph “Doom” Schneider really stands out, combining the right portions of frequencies to give the band it’s booming bottom end.
For those who are not already fans of Rammstein’s over the top lewd spectacle, all of this may be too much. The frequent editing and cutting can be headache-inducing for some in addition to the massive sensory overload. From a musical standpoint those who do not like heavy metal will also have a hard time finding something to like, particularly if they do not have a fondness for German. However, for the legions of Rammstein fans, this film is pure magic and it totally delivers one of the most unique and interesting concert experiences of all time. One must appreciate the sheer gusto required to pull off a performance of this magnitude as it takes a special kind of band to do so. Rammstein: Paris is yet another chapter in an already legendary career and it is one that will surely please their rabid fanbase.