Emigrate – The Persistence Of Memory
Released: November 12, 2021
Richard Z Kruspe // vocals, guitars, keys
Sky Van Hoff // bass
Henka Johansson // drums
Emigrate is the brain child of Rammstein’s founding member and lead guitarist Richard Z Kruspe, and The Persistence Of Memory is the fourth offering from the German-American outfit. I personally have been waiting for the release of this record since the first single, ‘Freeze My Mind’, was announced back in September. It’s been three years since the last Emigrate record, ‘A Million Degrees’ was released, so to say I was looking forward to this was an understatement. Especially when the album shares its name with my favourite Salvadore Dali artwork (yeah I know, I’m an art nerd!), of the melting clocks.
First up we have ‘Rage’ which includes the chorus line “angels never die, this is now, this is forever” which is in my opinion anyway, a quite clever lyric and it’s one of my favourites. It’s a good track as far as openers go, and it has light and shade throughout, and the whistle outro was a nice touch. ‘Always On My Mind’ is track two and it is a cover of the Pet Shop Boys classic and features none other than Richard’s Rammstein bandmate and longtime friend, Till Lindemann on vocals. Lindemann brings his signature deep, raspy vocals to the track and sings it entirely in English, which people may not be familiar with unless they’ve listened to Lindemann, Till’s side project with Hypocrisy’s Peter Tagtgren. After the first verse and chorus there’s a spoken female vocal that utters “mmhm, yeah right” which made me giggle, as did Lindemann’s closing line of “I call you”. An interesting take on a classic track.
Lead single ‘Freeze My Mind’ is track three and it’s definitely heavier than the first two tracks on the record, with an emphasis on the punchy guitar and drum parts. Richard has always written very cinematically, at least in my opinion, and each song tells a story. The incorporation of synthesizers by DJ Andrea Marino brings the song to life a little more and gives it depth, and the whole track just feels huge.
‘I’m Still Alive’ is one of those catchy, gets stuck in your head tunes and I found myself bopping along as I listened. If Emigrate was ever to be a touring project, which RZK has said before that it won’t, this would be a fun live track, especially with the repeated lyric of “I feel it might get loud” throughout. ‘Come Over’ is up next and it’s got a real 80’s synth vibe feel to it, and while it is a fun track, it’s probably my least favourite on the record. Not because I don’t like 80’s synth-rock, Soft Cell is one of my favourite bands, I just didn’t vibe it. It feels pretty simple and having been a Rammstein and Emigrate fan for almost fifteen years, I know that Richard is capable of much more when it comes to songwriting and catchy lyrics.
Track six is ‘You Can’t Run Away’ and it’s my second favourite track on the record (we’ll get to my favourite in a second). The accompanying music video features not only the band, but RZK’s daughter Maxine, and Latvian model Olga De Mar, as well as a fun sequence on a motorbike. I am a sucker for a great bassline, I’ve been very open about that in the past, and ‘You Can’t Run Away’ satisfied that for me. The underlying bass and drums are complimented by the, at times sexy, guitar parts and the synth incorporated throughout fills in any gaps the other instruments leave whilst complimenting throughout as well. It’s also a great track lyrically, and that’s probably why for me it holds quite a high place in terms of strong tracks on the record.
Some of you may say that this is a cop out, and you’re entitled to your opinion, but my favourite track on the record is this one. ‘Hypothetical’ is a re-release of a song included on 2014’s Silent So Long, and originally featured Marilyn Manson on guest lead vocals. It is virtually the same note for note to the original, but there’s just something about Richard’s vocals that make the song better, and that’s not just because it’s a song that makes you feel dirty and sexy all at once. The drums on this track also just feel huge and they really hit you hard in the chest, without being too overpowering and the chugging guitar riff does exactly the same. There’s also something to be said about the way that Richard gutturally screams “Fuck!” throughout as well.
Second to last is ‘Blood Stained Wedding’ and it’s probably the “weirdest” track on the record, but it still fits in with the rest of the songs. It opens with four piano notes that repeat throughout the song, with the guitar parts matching it. Being the longest track on the record at just under five minutes, and while it feels experimental in some parts, it’s still cohesive. There are two different vocal styles on the track as well, which was a little jarring upon first listen, but the second time through it was less of a surprise and seemed to just “fit” with the overall feel of the track. Lastly we have ‘I Will Let You Go’, which when it starts you think it’s going to be a swing track as it kicks off trumpets and old timey drums, before all that gets stripped away and it becomes what can only be described as ‘creepy’. There really isn’t any way to describe the verses other than ‘sinister’, and Richard’s almost spoken vocals are entrancing and draw you in. The choruses are a bit more upbeat and rockier and the contrast throughout makes the track a winner for me.
It’s overall a strong offering from Emigrate, and is worth the three year wait inbetween albums. The Persistence Of Memory isn’t your typical ‘rock’ album and defies being part of one specific genre, which a lot of bands seem to be doing nowadays. Thoroughly enjoyable!
Emigrate – The Persistence Of Memory tracklisting:
2. Always On My Mind (feat. Till Lindemann)
3. Freeze My Mind
4. I’m Still Alive
5. Come Over
6. You Can’t Run Away
8. Blood Stained Wedding
9. I Will Let You Go