HEAVY REVIEWS: Murphy’s Ranch with Rammstein… and that sticky-icky!
[A Special Note to the Reader]: Here at Heavy Grass, we like to practice what we preach. That being said, take these reviews with a grain of salt. We smoke HEAVILY for the entire process of these reviews and it’s ALWAYS Heavy Grass. In this album review, Dez attempts to test out the affects of Super Silver Haze not only on music, but also on the overall experience of wandering through the deep unknowns of Murphy’s Ranch.
Rammstein has always been a band that has been met with a bit of skepticism… Just from the name alone, you’re already thinking, “Great, another release from a band I can’t understand.” The band is totally aware of this. Lead guitarist, Richard Z. Kruspe has been quoted, “You have to understand that 99 percent of the people don’t understand the lyrics, so you have to come up with something to keep the drama in the show.”
“You have to understand that 99 percent of the people don’t understand the lyrics, so you have to come up with something to keep the drama in the show.”Lead guitarist, Richard Z. Kruspe
Regardless, this hasn’t stopped anyone from jumping on the Rammstein bandwagon. Fans of the band come from all corners of the world in droves because despite their controversial stage performances and way out there sound, this band is 100% true to themselves, and it shows. Rammstein’s current European tour is just about sold out. So far, only 5 of the 24 tour dates have tickets available for sale. (See below for more on that.)
Yes, navigating the German language can be particularly tough for those who are not familiar with the language, but honestly, that is up to the listener’s discretion if they want to know the message or not. There is an abundance of sites that have translated the entire catalog for those interested. (Thank you, Internet.) The real question is: Have you listened to Rammstein’s seventh studio album while enjoying a bit of that sticky-icky?
Having lived in a small German village in Rheinland-Pfalz as an Austauschschülerin (exchange student) for a little over a year, I gained a general understanding of the German history and language. This very broad understanding helped tremendously as I smoked my way through Rammstein’s latest album, which recently hit the #9 slot on the Billboard Charts–for those that care. To be fair, all the artists ahead of Rammstein at the time were either indie or hip-hop, and that is pretty damn impressive considering.
This untitled work of tracks has been live on the market for a little under a month, having been released May 17th, 2019 via Universal. So while everyone is talking song structure, hidden messages, and all that… I’m gonna go out and excercise my right to legally smoke my herb, and fuck right off deep into the unknown of Murphy’s Ranch. Hit play, and let’s go!
Murphy’s Ranch has long been a talking point in the greater Los Angeles area as the site of an alleged Nazi sympathizer compound. Seeing as Rammstein’s current album explores all aspects of German history, (which is artfully depicted in their music video for their opening track, “Deutschland”) I felt it would be rather interesting to explore the entirety of the album in a rather historical, yet eerie environment.
From what I could muster from an old LA Times article that was published in the 1990s… The last known owner of the ranch was Jessie M Murphy in 1933, but little is known about this individual save for the fact that this is the name documented on county records. It was Winona and Norman Stephens that took on the task of building out a rather ambitious compound designed as a base for Nazi activities on U.S. soil. Supposedly a mysterious German man known as “Herr Schmidt” somehow convinced the couple to shell out millions to build out a myriad of structures including a water shed, fuel tank, bomb shelter, power station and bunkers.
According to the story, the ranch was busted back in 1941 after federal agents stormed the ranch one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Herr Schmidt was arrested and identitified as a Nazi spy. I bet federal agents were dancing in celebration after finding a powerful shortwave “Radio” on the premises, which were typically used to send messages to Germany during the war.
Until I see actual evidence supporting these claims, I think I’m going to shelve this under urban legends and myths, but it would be nice to dig into newspaper archives to see if any of this checks out. Remnants of building structures still remain to this day that can still be explored, but who knows how much longer they will remain standing…
As a long time listener of the band, (I was introduced to Rammstein by a creepy school bus kid back in the Sehnsucht days.) I was happy to hear that they didn’t do any crazy one-off shit that most artists are doing these days to gain followers and all the rest of it. It was a pretty hazy day to go on a hike, so nature was definitely on my side as I started my exploration down a myriad of concrete steps to the compound.
I sparked up on the roof of the power room where all the generators were supposedly housed. Littered with graffiti and boarded the hell up, this is the only structure that is completely intact. Getting onto the roof is rather easy, but I wouldn’t recommend jumping on top of the structure if you’re afraid of heights or wearing shitty shoes with no traction whatsoever. Due to the many layers of paint slapped onto the structure, the surface is rather slick. Navigating that high was rather tricky, but I survived.
At this point, “Zeig Dich” (which translates to “Show Yourself”) is blaring through my headphones at full blast. I smoke sativas on hikes for the most part because I like to amplify my nature experiences with heightened alertness and focus. You know, to really take things in instead of succumbing to couch-lock which most high-THC indicas are prone to do. This song definitely raises the hair up on your arms while wandering around the abandoned power room and the surrounding garden adjacent to it.
This song definitely is an attack on the Church: the line “In namen des Herren” (In the name of the Lord) is a dead giveaway. (BTW Martin Luther, the man who challenged the Catholic Church and sparked the Protestant Reformation, is German. There’s a statue of him found in the city of Worms.) The creepiest moment of this song is when everything drops out, and you’re left with the deep vibrations of the bassline towards the end. Oddly enough, it sounds like a variation on the intro to System of a Down’s “Aerials.” Trust me, if I wasn’t alone at this moment, I probably would have lost my shit. That choir gives me the fucking creeps.
Moving on past the power room, I arrive at a building that is barely hanging by a thread. From the looks of it, it seems to be a stable of sorts. You can tell that at one point the city attempted to block off this site by the fencing and barbed wire that wraps around the entire structure. That hasn’t stopped anyone from breaking in. There’s caution tape littered everywhere and cut sections of fencing every which way. As I step onto sketchy planks covered in spray paint, the deafening chorus of “Puppe” blow through my noise-drums: “Ja ich beiß ich der Puppe den Hals ab.”
One of the more violent tracks off the album and my ultimate favorite, this one plays out as more of a narrative from the point of view of a small child whose sister happens to be a sex worker. (The city of Frankfurt has a pretty well-known red light district in the Bahnhofsviertel near the train station and has been ever so prevalent after 1945 due to the war.) His anger heightens at the chorus when he seeks to take out his aggression on the jackasses responsible for harming his sister. Frontman Till Lindemann really captures the anger of the young character of this song as he sings about biting off the neck of a doll, or Puppe, his sister gave him to comfort him while she was out walking the streets.
I would strongly advise folks NOT to explore inside the stable. This structure is as fragile as a house of cards, and even I avoided exploring inside for fear of it caving in on me.
Wandering on past a creek, I am met with a track that quickly grabbed my interest. “Was Ich Liebe” sounds a bit as if the beat of “Closer” by NIN and the intro guitar riff of Brand New’s “Okay I believe you, but my Tommy gun don’t” had a baby that came out the womb smugfully lamenting about being devoid of happiness in fluent german.
“Weit Weg” echoes back to an older album… you’ll hear it when you hear the word “Sonne” if you have ever listened to the album Mutter as much as I have. This particular tune is by far the most psychedelic sound on the album with those trippy ass synthesizers going on in the background. In fact, I got so encapsulated in it, I kind of lost my… Yeah, I have traveled quite a far way as I near the end of this hike. I’m fucking pooped and in need of a cheeseburger!
Overall, this entire album is fucking sick–especially if you pair it with a good sativa strain like Super Silver Haze. You can really get lost in the complex layers of heavy riffage riding on the waves of etheral synths. Rammstein has cleverly orchestrated this album not only to entertain, but to convey a poetic story about the German experience.
Still no news on North American tour dates, but if you’re looking to book summer vacation plans, may I suggest these following cities for the month of August:
- AUG 2 – Saint Petersburg, RUSSIA
- AUG 6 – Riga, LATVIA
- AUG 9 – Tampere, FINLAND
- AUG 22 – Vienna, AUSTRIA
- AUG 23 – Vienna, AUSTRIA
These are all current European tour dates available that are NOT sold out. I’ll keep refreshing my page for US Tour dates.
Til then, stay HEAVY! -Dez