Label: Prophecy Productins
Existence is not a state that is embraced as good and wholesome by everyone. Bethlehem definitely aren’t a life-affirmative and positive band. Nor are they a band praising suicide in the way DSBM bands do. Still, the style of the project of master mind Jürgen Bartsch is dark and different enough to be labelled ‘dark metal’ due to its singular and unique embrace of the dark elements.
Having released seven albums before, this eight record is the first ‘self-titled’ record. After having ventured into unknown domains with previous records, this line-up featuring Onielar on vocals (Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult), returns to the peculiar sound the band is known for. It is already promising to see an unsettling image on the cover of the record.
Opening with rattling battle cry, the record definitely doesn’t stick to static, ponderous passages but instantly rocks out. The demented barks of Onielar are delivered with enough conviction to make ‘Fickselbomber Panzerplauze’ a great opener. The swelling roar of the music is like an opening maw. The fast pace of the songs is hectic and the listeners stumbles to follow. A sudden break to near silence and piano play on ‘Kalt’ Ritt in leicht faltiger Leere’ knocks the wind out of you. Tormented howls then fill doomy passages of clear, soothing blackness. The pace keeps shifting. The madness tears at you as a listener and tempts you.
The thrash elements in the music allow the music to stay loose and violent. That also works for the listener. You’re more or less prepaired for the rapid shifts and unexpected turns. There’s the double bass urging you on and the high pitch of razorsharp riffs, but it all feels like something you could still party to. The crushing bass on ‘Die Dunkelheit Darbt’ could even be described as disgustingly groovy. There are always unnerving effects to the Bethlehem sound. By just hinting, therefor creating a sense of foreboding dread combined with bursts of intricate, directed madness the group slowly wears down their audience. Without end the songs twist and turn. Doom, black metal and experimental sounds merge into eachother and never does Bethlehem veer to far to one style. Solid ground the listener will not find.
A great example and perhaps the most sincere and hurtfully conveyed track is ‘Verdammnis straft gezügeltes Aas’. The cavernous riffing, while you hear the creepy murmur and painful vocal delivery with thunderous groove is a price piece on this record. Bethlehem returns to form on this album. It’s a form of nightmares, but what nightmares I say.