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Not Bad, and Almost Great - 79%

Funeral Frog, June 2nd, 2013
Written based on this version: 2010, CD, Red Stream, Inc.

Stönkfitzchen has a very good sense of flow and direction, in that the beginning tracks are more dreadful simply through sad music, while the latter half consists of more black metal influenced riffs. Take, for example, the half-speed blast-beats and tremolos of "Pillerthrillaren" that begin somewhere around 2:30 (and again at 3:21). This track also features great vocals by Kvarforth.

The first track of the EP is essentially a slow-paced (and quite depressing) song. The mood set by "Was ihr seid, das waren wir - Was wir sind, das werdet ihr" describes the atmosphere of the rest of this EP, while "Kalt regelt ab die Krankgeburt" is essentially the first song with a tremolo part half-way through.

The final song on Stönkfitzchen seems very familiar...
Oh yeah. This song is really a newer rendition of "Dr. Miezo", yet the only real difference being the new lyrics and voice. Perhaps I enjoy the Mein Weg version more because the singing around 3:00. Either way, "The 11th Hour..." is a great track to end this semi-album, albeit an unnecessary re-recording.

By the way, isn't this the fifth time that Bethlehem has released a version of "Gestern starb ich schon heute" (A.K.A. "Yesterday I Already Died Today")? Granted 3 of those are on EP's, like this one, but I think we get it now. I'm sure that many fans would rather see another version of "Tagebuch einer Totgeburt", "Wintermute" or another great song by Bethlehem.

The one recurring flaw with this release is the drumming. I don't mean to say that every song ever needs to have supercrazyawesome blast beats or a 27/32 time signature, but Wolz's parts are fairly simple throughout the entire run-time. It does, however, fit well with the other instruments.

Speaking of flaws, Kvarforth (also from Shining) did a much better job on this release compared to his previous Bethlehem efforts. A Sacrificial Offering to the Kingdom of Heaven in a Cracked Dog's Ear was mediocre at best, and I'm glad that we get to hear Niklas for real this time. Of course, when I finally warm up to a singer, Bethlehem goes and changes again (this time, for Alex Schmied + Eva Haas).

In the end, Stönkfitzchen is no masterpiece, but it's not an embarassing mark of shame for the band, either. The title is pretty funny, too!

3 Recommended Songs: Pillerthrillaren, The 11th Hour..., Yesterday I Already Died Today

A far better use of that new weapon - 73%

autothrall, November 18th, 2010

Last year's remastered re-release of S.U.i.Z.i.D, with Kvarforth's vocals, was absolutely unwelcome at my table, since the original is a classic in need of no reconstruction whatsoever, and its new visage did nothing but pale alongside the original. However, let this not be a reflection on either Kvarforth's abilities or the general quality of Bethlehem's body of work, because neither are really in question. With the Stönkfitzchen EP, the two forces continue their relationship in a more welcome fashion: with new material that returns to the S.U.i.Z.i.D era, without completely abandoning the more progressive Gothic rock transformation the band underwent on their 21st century fare like Mein Weg.

There IS one rehashed track here from S.U.i.Z.i.D., which is of course the incredible "Yesterday I Already Died Today", once again rendered with Kvarforth's vocals. And once again, it's not quite as good as the original, despite the added melodies, but the basics motifs are still present. As for the new fare, "Kalt regelt ab die Krankgeburt" is a beautiful number cast in the same mould as that band's 1997-98 era, with a tranquil acoustic intro, beautiful, central depressive melody, surges of aggression, and Kvarforth erupting into various shitfits that truly work within the concept of the band. "Pillerthrillaren" and "Kandierte Verlosung zu Ross" are likewise superb, atmospheric atrocities which cautiously balance the band's razor guitars with delicate Gothic atmospheres and lush inhibitions. "The 11th Hour" opens as delicious, voracious, driving evil black metal in the vein of their early years, but then peters out into crushing doom.

About the only new song I didn't bust a nut over was the opener, "Was irh seid, das waren wir - Was wir sind, das werdet ihr", which opens with gloomy piano and dire blues but picks up into some Hellhammer-like rhythms that did nothing for me, however even here the vocals are pretty good and they eventually break out a captivating, somber melody. But all in all, this is a far more tasteful direction for the band. I've long felt the S.U.i.Z.i.D era marked the band at their peak, so it's reaffirming to hear the band expand upon this material towards the future. I don't feel like we needed another inclusion of "Yesterday I Already Died Today", but otherwise this is well worth the money to any Bethlehem fan wishing to kick the band a few bucks and see them continue as one of Germany's most intriguing dynasties. Once those guitars ring out in "Kalt regelt ab die Krankgebut", you will once more be transported into their wrist-cutting Elysium.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com