Eifersucht: jealousy mutilates

LYRICAL LOITERINGS OF A LISTENER Series

Thoughts, ideas and reactions provoked by song lyrics. The series is also featured on Clink Music Magazine.

Rammstein named itself after the town Ramstein, where the second-deadliest airshow disaster (following the 2002 Sknyliv disaster) took place in front of an audience of about 300,000 people in 1988 – at least, that’s the official version. But the band added an extra “m”, giving the name the alternative meaning of “battering ram” in German. Most apt.

Bold, brash, brutal… barbaric – Rammstein in words. Subtle is not how this German powerhouse rolls. The band batters its way into consciousness with porn, pyromania and petulance. Rammstein’s lyrical metaphors are obvious and garish yet utterly effective. Much like Slipknot (although without the same categorical intention), Rammstein – in song, image and performance – personifies the putrefaction of society, of the individual, of the soul. The band is a symbol of internal rot – and no song is as suggestive of this idea as is Eifersucht (Jealousy).

Eifersucht (Jealousy)

Am I pretty
Then cut me in the face
Am I stronger
Break my neck in disgrace
Am I smarter
Kill me and eat my brain
I take your wife
Kill me and eat me all up
Just eat me all up

Am I honest
Then bite my tongue right off
Am I richer
Then take it all
Am I braver
Kill me and eat my heart
I take your wife
Kill me and eat me all up
Just eat me all up
And lick the table clean

We’re cooking jealousy

Have I such tender skin
Tear it out in stripes
Have I the clearest eyes
Steal all the light
Have I the purest soul
Burn it in the flames
I take your wife then
Kill me and eat me all up
Just eat me all up
And lick the table clean

We’re cooking jealousy

The song likens jealousy to cannibalism. Jealousy is a living entity that breathes, pulsates and reacts – reacts with murderous intent, by consuming that which is coveted. Cut a pretty face, eat an intelligent brain, bite an honest tongue… the metaphor is ferocious. Eifersucht equates an act of jealousy with metaphorical butchery; inflicting covetous thoughts on another is emotional and intellectual murder. It is the subjective destruction of another’s identity. Enforcing or imposing one’s own identity (needs, desires, thoughts and perceptions) on the identity of another is metaphorical murder. It is metaphorical mutilation, the destruction of another soul.

But Jealousy is also a simultaneous act of self-mutilation; it kills the dreams, ambitions, love, generosity and passion of its wielder. Jealousy is self-destructive as well as murderous.

The theme of mutilation is reflected in the album’s cover.  Eifersucht comes from Sehnsucht, Rammstein’s second album. The album booklet folds out to reveal six different covers, one for each band member – each photo depicting the member with a horrible facial mutilation. The cover most commonly seen features Till Lindemann with a muzzle and odd metal objects placed over his eyes to block his vision. The tone is masochistic and very disturbing, much like the songs on the album. The physical disfigurement of the band members represents the notion of an internal disfigurement, a mutilation of the soul, which is a result of the human condition. A condition that predisposes man to selfish desires and acts of jealousy… amongst other destructive modes of existence.

The cover art, the work of Austrian artist Gottfried Helnwein, is an outward manifestation of an abstract concept. It’s like horror in print. And the images are merely one aspect of the revulsion. The art’s true horror is invoked when viewed in context, as an element of a greater artistic endeavour, which is to express a single idea through various artistic mediums – word, voice, instrument, appearance, photograph. The concept is holistic in its expression and thus psychologically intrusive and deeply disruptive.

As is often the case, metal is used as a vehicle for ideological and artistic expression. Rammstein are masters of ‘the visual’ – their live shows are extreme as is their interpretation of Life and execution thereof. The band challenges thought, it is an assault on the senses… and I love it.

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