A MILLION DEGREES
Release: November 30, 2018
“Emigrate stands for pure passion, a lust for making music…” – Richard Z. Kruspe, 2018
As a member of Rammstein, the music world’s most explosive live act, Kruspe has been part of a ground-breaking global success story that continues to build and to ignite; along the way, he’s turned his attention to a number of parallel projects, such as constructing a new studio (and a new home) in his native Berlin, but it’s his decision to launch the Emigrate setup that has given him the greatest chance to satisfy creative instincts outside of the “parent group“.
Emigrate can’t be called either a ‘side’ or a ‘solo project’. A ‘passion project’ might be closer to the mark – a needed extra outlet operating close to the level of therapy for an artist whose energy, vision and quest for perfection are defining factors, keeping him, well… fired-up!
“I really want the freedom to collaborate with different people and to explore different kinds of music,” Kruspe explains, “to express myself as both a writer and a singer away from deadlines, timelines and other such restrictions. The idea is to keep experimenting and to keep challenging myself. Plus, Emigrate works in an organic way, so musicians can come and go, and it’s still ok, it’s positive…”
1234 feat. Ben
A Million Degrees
Lead You On feat. Margaux Bossieux
You Are So Beautiful
Hide and Seek
We Are Together
Let's Go feat. Till Lindemann
I'm Not Afraid feat. Cardinal Copia
Eyes Fade Away
After issuing ‘Silent So Long’ four years ago, Kruspe considered running with the follow up sooner rather than later, effectively making it ‘Silent…’ Part 2. He had half-a-dozen songs up his sleeve, numbers that hadn’t quite aligned with the feel of ‘SSL’, and in March 2015 he set about completing these using places and personnel he’d called on successfully in the past…
“I decided to go to Los Angeles to work with Ben Grosse, the mixing engineer on ‘Silent So Long’,” he recalls, “but for the first time in my professional life I felt that something was missing. I just wasn’t inspired, I couldn’t give the 120 per cent I put into every record I’m involved with, so I decided to stop.''
“I had a whole host of issues going on in my personal life, including building the house in Berlin, and then in September 2015 we started thinking about the next steps for Rammstein…”
Following due discussion, it was agreed that the Rammstein ‘kollektiv’ would venture back into the rehearsal room; there was no pressure to do anything in particular, just make new music and generally get a sense of how everyone was feeling. Exciting developments for Rammstein fans, but it meant that Emigrate, while never far from Kruspe’s mind, had to be temporarily side-lined… and then fate lent a hand…
“In 2016, my house suffered serious water damage; my studio was flooded and half of the equipment, including the hard disk drive, destroyed, so I had to basically start again. All I had of the songs I’d been working on was my memory!” At the time, this act-of-God seemed like a major blow; on reflection, however, it gave Kruspe the chance to re-assess the project, to decide just what kind of statement the third Emigrate album should be… “Life gave me a sign!”
So… out went the idea of ‘Silent So Long’ Part 2, to be replaced by a bolder, broader view, and the desire to quit any kind of comfort zone. Key to this shift through the gears was the decision to bring in Sky Van Hoff – a young producer / engineer / guitarist from Dusseldorf who had been helping Kruspe to document his Rammstein ideas. The two found working together both easy and productive, and the result is an enhanced Emigrate sound, dripping with detail, that Kruspe describes as “one of the best I’ve ever been involved with. I’m really proud of it…”
From September 2017 onwards, a re-invigorated Kruspe set about the task of re-writing, rearranging and re-recording the album tracks, handling the production side himself, with Van Hoff focussing on the engineering and the mix. They used the historic Funkhaus in Berlin’s Nalepastrasse (one-time broadcasting base of the GDR) for the drum tracks, with everything else being handled in Kruspe’s own studio; the Rammstein man took charge of the vocals and the guitars, supported by Apocalyptica’s Mikko Siren on drums and Arnaud Giraux on bass, both reprising their roles on ‘Silent…’, with Sky also helping out on bass.
It's meaningful for Rammstein fans, and indeed for Kruspe himself, that Lindemann figures on ‘Let’s Go’, singing his own lyrics – in German and English – and providing a signature presence; as a performer, he’s not known for ‘extra-curricular’ activity, which gives this collaboration the feeling of a box being ticked (at last)…(more on this later).
“We’ve been friends since 1987 and this is the first time we’ve worked together outside of Rammstein,” confirms Kruspe. “You know, I’ve had that number for quite a while, and it’s about our history and our friendship, which I can sum up like this: I believe I’m the reason he started a career in music, and he’s the reason I’ve witnessed the dark side of life! In two words: beautiful destruction! The song itself is quite different to the world of Rammstein, though, which I think is a good thing…”
“Whatever I do with Rammstein or with Emigrate, there’s always a bit of my own story in there; there may be exaggerations, there may be extra colour added, but essentially it’s personal…” Emigrate, there are no rules to stick to, no checkpoints that can’t be crossed. Which is exactly how Richard Z. Kruspe likes it.
The album opens with ''War'', which is a slow tempo rock song. The lyrics are very straightforward and so is the music. It is kind of a bland song, but for an intro, it is okay. Track number two, ''1234'' on the other hand is heavier and kicks you right in the face. Just what I needed after ''War''. ''A Million Degrees'' has the electronic layers that I love so much. Up till now the album is very easy to listen to, and I loved it right away. All melodies and lyrics are very catchy and I caught myself singing along pretty quickly. Next up is ''Lead You On'' featuring Margaux Rossieux. This song reminds me a bit of Rammstein's LIFAD sound, but it does have that Emigrate-touch to it. Richards' voice and Margaux's voices fit beautifully together. It might be my favourite song of the album!
''You Are So Beautiful'' sounds extremely familiar to me, but I can not place a finger on what it exactly is. It reminds me a bit of Snow Patrol for some reason. I like it a lot though! ''Hide and Seek'' is very melodic and catchy as well, the chorus is heavy compared to the verses which is a nice contrast. ''We Are Together'' is a powerballad, which is also the first track I actually dislike. It does fit on the album, just not to my taste. Guitar solo is great though.
I did not realise it at first, but on ''Let's Go'' I heard a familiar voice… Till Lindemann! (I hadn't read/written the information part yet…) He is the last person I expected on an Emigrate song, but it does make sense after all. I am still not used to hearing Till singing in English, which was also a bit of a ''problem'' for me with his solo project called Lindemann. Anyway, the track is a great addition to ''A Million Degrees''. At first, ''I'm Not Afraid'' struck me as a filler song, I didn't like it at first but it grew on me. Then I found out it features Cardinal Copia from Ghost. Boy did I feel like I betrayed my other favourite band… Knowing that I ofcourse love the track (duh), but I still think it could have been a bit more powerful. It is a great collaboration, together they kind of developed to sound like Depeche Mode! I want that track to have a video though.''Spitfire'' is a nice track, but definitely a filler to me. We are ending this review and album with ''Eyes Fade Away'' which seems to be an extension of ''War''. Because it has the same vibe, it really makes the album full circle.
To me, Kruspe can do no wrong. I have been a fan of him (and Rammstein) since I was 13. Actually, Kruspe is the entire reason I started playing guitar and got more into metal (he just looked very cool okay…). It is no surprise that I like the new Emigrate, so it gets a high rating from me!
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