When RAMMSTEIN announced their plans for a short hiatus in 2013, fans of the teutonic Germans were understandably upset. Guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe returned to his EMIGRATE side-project and the rest of the band seemed to disappear from the limelight. What we couldn’t have predicted however, was that powerhouse lead singer Till Lindemann would create a side-project of his own, enlisting Peter Tägtgren of HYPOCRISY and PAIN to play the instrumental parts, whilst he himself concentrated on the lyricism.
The result was LINDEMANN and the 11 tracks that make up Skills In Pills, a venture which also sees the frontman singing entirely in English for the first time. While fans might argue this change removes some of the subtlety from the album’s lyrics, it remains undeniably funny to hear the man himself shouting about the kind of depraved topics he’s covered for years in RAMMSTEIN. Tracks like Ladyboy and Golden Shower may seem shocking, but they really aren’t too different to Till’s day-job.
Title-track Skills In Pills is a stomping opener, essentially taking the industrial metal template Lindemann is best known for, and adding even more keyboards than usual to create a more chaotic, and arguably pop-oriented, sound that demands immediate attention.
Ramping up the industrial metal some more, Children Of The Sun is a track that really wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the last RAMMSTEIN record, Liebe Ist Für Alle Da, with its monstrous guitars and expertly-delivered vocals from Till. It’s probably one of the strongest tracks on the entire album which, given the overall quality of it, is no mean feat.
The more pop-esque sound is a theme that generally underpins a huge chunk of Skills In Pills however, with the welcome exception of Home Sweet Home, a heartfelt ballad in the vein of Ohne Dich which provides a stark contrast to the electro-tinged madness of songs like Cowboy.
The lyricism throughout Skills In Pills is classic Lindemann, dripping with sarcasm and wit. This is most clear in closing track Praise Abort, which sees Till declaring a hatred for his wife, children and life, that’s clearly tongue-in-cheek. As the album’s first single, it’s undeniably catchy and one of many that’s simply screaming out to be played live.
Those who pick up the special edition of the album will receive one more surprise though. That’s My Heart is another ballad, which begins sounding almost like a dark lullaby, before dramatically shifting to an orchestra-led piece – thanks to surprise special guest Clemens Wijers of symphonic black metallers CARACH ANGREN.
Whether Lindemann becomes more than just a distraction during RAMMSTEIN’S hiatuses has yet to be seen, but on the strength of this record, it would certainly be a shame if that were the case.