With fiery Germans Rammstein readying their seventh studio album for early 2019, guitarist Richard Kruspe has chosen the optimum time to release A Million Degrees (Universal/Spinefarm), his third “solo” record under the Emigrate banner.
Recalling an eighties Goth/New Romantic/post-Punk sound, Kruspe looks to British acts such as Joy Division, Siouxsie, and the Banshees, The Cure, Japan, and Sisters of Mercy for inspiration while adding his own unique individual touches, throwing in a handful of surprise guests – and one happily predictable one.
Opening with a Rammstein style intro, ‘War’ quickly becomes full of dark, Middle-Eastern flavored riffs and orchestrations, while ‘1234’ featuring Ben Kowalewicz of Canadian band Billy Talent, although beginning with that same distinct sense of familiarity, soon transforms itself into a punky ball of energy. The excellent title track follows, and while sounding very little like his parent band on the surface, still harbors echoes of the riff to ‘Mein Teil’ within its pulsing bassline.
‘Lead You On’ possesses a powerful, thrusting chorus and vocals from Margaux Bossieux, a former member of punk act Dirty Mary and long-time friend of Kruspe’s. ‘You Are so Beautiful’ is what would happen if U2 went Europop, ‘Hide and Seek’ is all pop-Punk and big drums, and ‘We Are Together’ isn’t too far removed from the dark side of Echo and the Bunnymen.
In an altogether unsurprising move, ‘Let’s Go’ just so happens to feature Rammstein’s own Till Lindemann, the imposing frontman singing in both German and English on a track steeped in eighties synth and electronica. The restrained ‘I’m Not Afraid’ includes an appearance from none other than Cardinal Copia (aka Tobias Forge) from Swedish Satan-botherers Ghost, ‘Spitfire’ is uptempo and catchy with its ““na na-na, na na-na” refrain and memorable chorus, and is one of the best tracks on the album, even if it’s strange hearing a German singing about an English World War II fighter plane, and closer ‘Eyes fade Away’ is another slow and dark tune punctuated by moments of thumping heaviness.
Emigrate shows once again that there’s more to Richard Kruspe than the relatively straightforward chugging industrial rhythms of Rammstein, and A Million Degrees showcases his underrated talents perfectly.
8 / 10