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Weird, chaotic and gluey with hilarious lyrics. - 25%

oneyoudontknow, March 1st, 2010

Berserker is a strange release … so much is certain and there is nothing subliminal about it. The listener is directly confronted with it as the arrangements as well as the song-writing is outside the ordinary routine of what metal artists normally reach for. Especially the drum-computer, or better said the strange way in which it was programmed, needs to the emphasized. Unlike a lot of other bands no monotonous or repetitive arrangements were used on this album. Rather the contrary is the case and a surprisingly dynamic catchy beat is used at times. There are also 'blast' parts of course, but the dominating impression is that of modern and out of the metal arena influences.

When I listened to the music the first time, then Type O Negative came to my mind. It was the sound as well as the style in which the guitars were played that gave me this impression. To be frank, Belmez does not copy the style of the Americans the whole time, but there are some references now and then which should be mentioned. Generally, the music consists of doomy guitar parts, which are separated in a rhythm and a lead one. While in the back some loose accords are played, whose combination gives the idea of a vague melody, solo parts – often quite long ones – were placed on top of it. So, together this gives a rather startling and surprisingly odd combination, but maybe Belmez wanted to stay true to the meaning of their name; just look up Bélmez Faces and you get a glimpse behind this band.

The downside of this album is its overall impression and the thickness in which the music progresses. Belmez' art basically consists of one approach, which was varied in some respect over the length of the album. They stuck to it and they were able to create an interesting as well as somehow unique atmosphere, so these are both arguments in favour of the band. Consistency is there but here it has become a burden to the band. The compositions lack surprising elements because Belmez always relied on a specific and characteristic set of ideas. Hence, the music becomes predicable in some sense and the listener bored.

Final bits and bytes
So, while there are some nice arrangements now and then, they are not able to leave a positive impression as the overall mediocrity and shallowness of the concept fires back on the band. Their idea of music simply follows a too predictable rule to grab the attention of the listener over the whole length of the album. Yet, this all would and could be tolerated would it not be for the hilariously bad lyrics. Especially the track Meine Kraft takes the cake and brings this album to low levels that might surprise those who are not familiar with the German tongue. Yes indeed, metal and this language are two facets that are difficult to bring together on a high level. Too often the bands simply cannot resist the temptation to pull some sort of stunt and Belmez really should have been aware of what they did; I mean, they should have seen the responses coming. The, let us call it, 'ode to the beloved one' (see above) is even worse than Dark Funeral's Atrum Regina; which says a lot. Some things are better left unsaid … or avoided in the metal arena.

So, basically we have here an idea going horribly wrong and whether you will like this release or not depends on something simple as your level of understanding of the German tongue.

Original and excellent piece of dark music - 96%

Soturnus, March 31st, 2006

Belmez is a unique band. It's only one member who sings and plays the guitar with a drum machine. Nothing else. Somebody might imagine that the band's music is simple or too basic because of that, but this debut-album "Berserker" is exactly the contrary. This album is complex and intricate, sometimes it's even difficult to assimilate. But it doesn't mean that it's not brilliant. And it IS brilliant. The nine tracks presented here are enshrouded in a unique atmosphere, with elements of horror, madness and other obscure feelings in a gloomy ambience that is really disturbing. All the songs are sung in German and all the texts in the booklet are in German as well. The drum machine doesn't sound like real drums but it was not supposed to do so. Although it doesn't sound too mechanic. It has a clear and powerful tone and was creatively well-programmed. In some parts of the songs there is only one guitar, but most of the time there are two guitars - while one is playing some simple power chords in the background, the other is playing excellent and very long solos. These solos sometimes sound improvised, but they always have an impressive harmony with the songs. The solos are dreamy and match perfectly the dense and heavy atmosphere of the album. The songs are long (the biggest one is 10 minute long) and at least half of them is extremely slow. In some parts of these slow songs, it seems that everything will suddenly stop in the next second. But there are other songs which are faster, mid-tempo like. The vocals are in a typical black metal style, but very agonizing and melancholic - those feelings of horror and madness I mentioned above can be perfectly felt in Zwerg's voice. As I said, this album is a little difficult to understand in the beginning. It's challenging because it's unusual, truly original. And it's impossible to compare Belmez with other bands because that. If you are venturesome enough, give this album a try because you won't regret.

Belmez - Berserker - 65%

vorfeed, May 11th, 2004

Band: Belmez
Album: Berzerker
Label: Napalm Records
Release Year: 1995

Belmez is a German one man band playing "Dark Metal". Since those are the only two words in the booklet not in German, I really can't say much more about it for certain. I can, however, say that this is a fine example of doomy black metal with pained, screamed vocals. It reminds me very much of Bethlehem (to be expected, since both bands call themselves "dark metal".) Belmez is nowhere near the excellence that is Bethlehem, but this is a solid release nonetheless.

The compositions are very good- these are all interesting songs, and Belmez manages to create some sick, churning atmosphere on the slower tracks. The faster tracks are good, too, but suffer from the curse of the drum machine.

In fact, the only real drawback to Belmez is the drum machine- at least to me, these rarely ever work well for metal. They're just too "perfect" sounding, although in this case that actually adds somewhat to the cold, detached nature of the music, while subtracting from its immediate impact. As such, the drum machine works well during the slower, doomier Belmez songs, and really hurts during the "fast blasting" sections.

If you like blackened doom metal in general, or Bethlehem in particular, you might want to pick this up. This isn't an essential release by any means, but it's quite good, will probably grow on you, and can be had for an insanely low price if you can find it.

Standout Tracks: "Villa Hildebrandt" was my favorite- the intro is great, and the echoing guitar here is very well done.

Review by Vorfeed: http://www.vorfeed.net