Bethlehem


Dark metal (CD) 1994 Adipocere Records
This is the first full-length album of a very promising band. Bethlehem is, together with a band like Empyrium, the ultimate evidence that German metal is not always meant to entertain at metal parties beer drinking macho's with leather coats and big bellies. Their heavy and threatening dark metal, succeeds in creating a mysterious, gloomy atmosphere without the use of keyboards or other atmospheric instruments.

The guitar sound on this album is very heavy and dry, creating a depressive atmosphere without evoking feelings of sadness. The dark and miserable music of Bethlehem doesn't need any gothic elements and it has nothing to do with gothic metal. The vocals are grim and vary from deep grunts and growls to high-pitched screams. It is mostly because of those vocals, that many fans consider Bethlehem to be a black metal band. Nevertheless, the music on this work is very heavy and doomy, and the accelerated parts are quite sparse. Perhaps the most appropriate definition of the sound of this band is the title of this album: 'Dark metal'.

The apocalyptic dark metal of Belthlehem is certainly not food for softies or gothic doom addicts. Heaviness, depression and gloominess are the key words here. The night is dark and cold, and it looks as if even the sun doesn't dare to make its appearance any more.

Album Cover

1. The Eleventh Commandment
2. Apocalyptic Dance
3. Second Coming
4. Vargtimmen
5. 3rd Nocturnal Prayer
6. Funereal Owlblood
7. Veiled Irreligion
8. Gepriesen sei der Untergang

Approx. 69 minutes

Re-release by Red Stream in 1997

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Reviewed by: Kostas Panagiotou
Dictius te necare (CD) 1997 Red Stream
Wow, Bethlehem have a new vocalist. This fact is very difficult to ignore since this vocalist, who listens to the quite German sounding name Landfermann, has one of the sickest and most extreme voices you'll ever hear from a human being.

His very intense, over-the-top screams, that sound very aggressive and very vulnerable at the same time, fit perfectly with the concept of this album. "This album is dedicated to all suicide victims" they write in the booklet, but I would say that a potential suicide candidate is the last person that should be allowed to listen to this work.

The sound on 'Dictius te necare' is very heavy and dry as in 'Dark metal', but they also added a very macabre "feel" to this album. The tempo went somewhat up, to fit better with the screaming vocals, but the production is still very dark and gloomy. The lyrics are this time written in German, because J. Bartsch, the lyricist and main composer behind Bethlehem, felt that he can only express himself exactly as he wants in his mother tongue. Those lyrics are very poetic and complicated, which sets Bethlehem further apart from the black metal scene. I still wonder though if they make any sense, because I still have to meet the first person who can give a satisfying explanation of those cryptic writings (Bartsch is the last one you should go to if you want a clear and non ambivalent explanation).

If Bethlehem weren't already a cult band since 'Dark metal',, they certainly became one after this album. But this doesn't mean that we should allow Suie, our suicidal columnist, to listen to this masterpiece of gloominess and incurable pain.

Album Cover

1. Schatten aus der Alexander Welt
2. Die anarchische Befreiung der Augenzeugenreligion
3. Aphel - Die schwarze Schlange
4. Verheißung - Du Krone des Todeskultes
5. Verschleierte Irreligiosität
6. Tagebuch einer Totgeburt
7. Dorn meiner Allmacht

Approx. 44 minutes

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Reviewed by: Kostas Panagiotou
S.U.i.Z.I.D. (CD) 1998 Red Stream
Third full-length album and Bethlehem have once again a new vocalist. This time it is Marco from Deinonychus, whose extreme, wailing vocals are indeed very appropriate for Bethlehem's music. The initials of the words in the album title, 'Sardonischer Untergang im Zeichen Irreligiöser Darbietung', can be read as S.U.I.Z.I.D., which shows again their obsession with suicide.

The typical, dark guitar sound is still present of course, but Bethlehem experiment further with some electronic elements, drum loops and a female vocalist. On almost every song you can find sick samples, frustrated screams and some strange breaks, where you only hear some repetitive clean guitars or spoken words, screams and wailing noises from both vocalists for a few seconds, creating a nihilistic, cheerless atmosphere.

Those who think that the introduction of electronic elements like samples and drum loops makes the music always less interesting, should listen to 'Teufelverrückt Gottdreizehn' and the incredible 'Nexus' and wonder how these songs would sound without the addition of electronic elements.

Album Cover

1. Durch befleckte Berührung meiner Nemesis
2. Du sollst dich töten
3. Gestern starb ich schon heute
4. Teufelverrückt Gottdreizehn
5. Tote weiße Marder
6. Nexus
7. Luftstehs'lbläh
8. Als ich noch Caulerpa Taxifolia erbrach
9. Tod ist weicher Stuhl in gar fleischlos' Gift

Approx. 44 minutes

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Reviewed by: Kostas Panagiotou
Profane Fetmilch lenzt elf Krank (CD) 2000 Prophecy
Too short album, means too short review. Two new songs. Catchier than before. No electronic elements any more, as on 'S.U.I.Z.I.D.'. Although different, still Bethlehem. Manic depressive. Marco Kehren's painful vocals. Melodic riffs and sick intermezzo's. You, Bethlehem fan. You need.
Album Cover

1. Gar albern es uns totgebar
2. Von bittersüssem Suizid

Approx. 9 minutes

Reviewed by: Kostas Panagiotou