Holding off on finishing my year end list has proved fortuitous but fortunate especially when considering a new outing from Rammstein guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe’s Emigrate project imminently awaits release. The album in question, A Million Degrees (Emigrate’s third), is a late year surprise and will no doubt astound and appease restless Rammstein fans until that band returns with a new studio offering in 2019.
There’s something oddly soothing about Richard Kruspe’s guitar tones. The hairs on the back of my neck that always stood when riffs from “Ich Will” or “Zwitter” (I will make no apologies for the Mutter love) came on were even more pronounced when “Wake Up” or “Face Down” (B-side from Emigrate, look this one up!) dropped in 2007 or when “Silent So Long” followed in 2014 as solo Kruspe riff monsters.
So it’s no surprise when opener “War” does just that and is just as much a welcome back as it a call-to-arms (And another featuring those aforementioned signature Kruspe riffs). A boisterous march with a huge chorus, swirling electronics and Kruspe’s heavy ass guitar tones with some sick Zakk Wylde squeals to boot, the track reintroduces Kruspe’s uncanny delivery (Think darkwave/electro acts like She Wants Revenge as a good template) which is still a stark contrast to the baritone brought forth by his bandmate in that other band.
And can we all agree that Emigrate just solidifies the fact that Kruspe knows how to write a catchy ass single?
Like the first offering from A Million Degrees, “1234”, featuring Billy Talent’s Ben Kowalewicz which is the biggest banger Emigrate could offer as a lead track with Mikko Siren’s superb drumming at the forefront and another gigantic chorus serving as a hypnotic pied piper to entice new listeners. Was that not enough catchy for you? Then how about the title track which follows where Kruspe’s guitar and voice synch as one for yet another big beautiful chorus.
Started on 2014’s Silent So Long, Emigrate utilized a slew of guest artists which were a little jarring upon first listen but here Kruspe has perfected the formula, mixing up the types of vocalists and expertly sequencing the album to service the overall aesthetic perfectly. Like “Lead You On” which brings back Margaux Bossieux (Who also occasionally provides the banging bass in Emigrate) on this driving duet.
Back to the super singles comes “You Are So Beautiful” with these swooping, broad passages and razor sharp riffs cutting a swath of intensity through the lush soundscape. “Hide and Seek” is a rollicking, rumbling good time with this MASSIVE chorus that fits Siren’s drumming aesthetic perfectly with electronic flourishes and a playful air accented by these bumping bass lines.
But wait! Is that Till Lindemann on “Let’s Go”, a decidedly non-Rammstein sounding track? It is! Electro-tinged and sounding like one of the quirkier tracks from Antichrist Superstar (Think “Cryptorchid” with incredible Pop sensibilities), Kruspe needs to be applauded for not settling into old habits with this particular guest. Then “I’m Not Afraid” keeps the electro going balanced with a monolithic riff barrage while “Spitfire” is a straightforward, biting rawk anthem.