It was back in 1994 when the blackened thrash band BETHLEHEM released their debut record, “Dark Metal”. Until then, the term dark metal was not even introduced as a genre and BETHLEHEM claimed to have created it or at least that’s what the band supported later. BETHLEHEM’s career continued through the years with many line-up changes, controversies but with the same attitude, offering many morbid, unpolished records and EPs.
In December 2016, the band returned with a self-titled record, along with line-up changes. The Polish black metal vocalist Yvonne Wilczynska joins the band along with the guitarist Ilya Karzov for the creation of BETHLEHEM. For this record, the band sounds rawer than ever. Extreme vocals are taking over the songs, which mostly tend to get close to a blackened thrash style, with fast, rhythmical guitars and drums. I always spot a punk influence in some of the songs, for instance in the intro of Fickselbomber Panzerplause, but I cannot ‘blame’ Bethlehem for that, because black metal’s subgenres derived influenced by many musical styles.
“The record will sound potential in the ears of those who are disgusted with the well-polished, political-correct records that new musicians in extreme metal introduced and supported.”
The record progresses within the same pattern, switching between fast-paced riffs to darker break-downs. In every moment, the vocals Onielar has recorded and performed for this record create the rightful morbid theme no matter if those vocals are accompanied with the fastest and most aggressive guitars on earth, or clean guitars and piano. The theme remains the same and that’s the reason why BETHLEHEM is claiming the term ‘Dark metal’. There isn’t anything ‘bright’ enough in this record, the feeling is one and only.
The record is ideal for fans of black metal and death metal. The production of the record is as raw as it can get, extreme, aggressive and lavish at moments, as well as the music itself. However, BETHLEHEM are not expected to have surpass their creational peak in this one, with many songs of the record to be floating somehow. One cannot compare ‘Kalt’ Ritt in Leicht Faltiger Leere’, for example, with ‘Wahn Schmiedet Sarg’.
Without any surprises, without digression from BETHLEHEM’s original style introduced from the very first record, their self-titled record came to preserve the band’s legacy. The record will sound potential in the ears of those who are disgusted with the well-polished, political-correct records that new musicians in extreme metal introduced and supported.