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Drenched in atmosphere, seething with hatred, beautifully melancholic - 99%

TheRisenOne, September 7th, 2020

Depressive suicidal black metal (DSBM) has become a burgeoning style of music over the last couple of decades. Many bands have been experimenting with their own flavours of the style, often combining the Norwegian style of black metal with the sorrowful elements of doom metal, and even introducing post-punk and industrial music into the mix. However, even before DSBM became an officially known genre thanks to Shining and Silencer, there were a multitude of bands creating a prototype of the style. Bethlehem is one of those bands, kick starting their musical career with two demos from '91-'93, and then releasing the album entitled "Dark Metal" in 1994. While the elements were present within the latter, it wasn't until they released "Dictius Te Necare" (which translates to "You Should Kill Yourself) in 1996, where the blueprints for DSBM showed way more frequently. The music in this album differs more gradually in comparison to Dark Metal, in that the gloom drenched atmosphere and overall misanthropy shows way, WAY more through the vocals and instruments alone. I'd like to consider this album as Bethlehem's progenitor to Death, Pierce Me by Silencer.

Introduction aside, let's delve into the musical aspects, as there's a lot to unpack here. Starting off at the atmosphere, it's undoubtedly depressing and absolutely gloom drenched, but at the same time, it has a sense of beauty behind it that no other band at the time could really capture. There'll be some atmospheric moments that will give you the feeling of being stuck inside the vocalist's insane mind, and then there's also moments where it seems dreamy, almost as if everything abruptly changed into something more peaceful. However, in these beautifully crafted moments, the insanity and sorrow still lingers somewhere in the atmosphere. The clean guitars greatly accompany the atmosphere, and they really know how to create some incredibly funeral dirge inspired riffs.

Speaking of the guitarwork, when they aren't playing some clean melancholy driven parts, they are assaulting your ears with some black metal inspired riffing and just borderline evil parts in the music. The guitar tone is very distorted and gloomy, offering some of the darkest riffs you could hear at that period of time. Seriously, even I feel incredibly intimidated by some of the riffs in this album.

Nothing can be said too much about the bass, but when it does show, it's not exactly very light-hearted. Even in the bass tone, you can feel the insanity and pure anger.

The biggest stand-out on this album would definitely be the vocals, and I say that from the bottom of my heart. These aren't regular death growls and high pitched black metal screams. No, these vocals literally personify insanity, depression and all out hatred. You'll be hearing panicked screaming. low growling, sobbing, rasped screaming. and many other variants that weren't used as frequently around this period. There's even times when the vocalist fluctuates between tormented yelling and evil low growling within the space of a few seconds, and that honestly outdoes a lot of vocalists of that era, at least in my honest opinion. This guy takes extreme vocals beyond the limits.

The drumming manages to maintain its own originality and stay away from black metal stereotypes. The drums go along with the tempo of the music perfectly, staying from the blast beats for the most part and utilizing their own unique patterns. They're another aspect of the album that tends to go from column A to column B quite fast.

Lastly, we come to the lyrical content. Literally everything is written in German, so if you're looking for context, I recommend a good translator. But to give you insight, as you might have guessed, the lyrics deal with suicide, misanthropy, depression, mental illnesses, and other dark topics, often spoken in a poetically metaphorical sense. Hearing Landfermann hiss, roar, shriek, growl and wail the lyrics is a thing of beauty, and really captures the absolute sickness that's present within this album.

So, what verdict can I offer? This album is beautifully constructed, and is definitely a masterpiece. I wouldn't recommend it right off the bat for people who want to explore the netherealms of black/doom metal. It took me a couple years to fully get into before I could properly appreciate the style and the context behind the album. It's very extreme and it really does differ from what was being put out at that time. On a personal note, many people will find this album therapeutic in some way, especially during the dreamier sections.

When there was no depressive black - 100%

Colonel Para Bellum, April 6th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Red Stream, Inc.

Black / doom metal is a rather vague definition, but on "Dictius Te Necare" fast "black metal-ish" tremolo picking riffs constantly compete with elongated and viscous riffs, with melancholic guitar fingerpickings too, so in fact, Bethlehem perform black / doom metal. Not depressive black metal at all. Not only because there was no depressive black metal as such in those days, but precisely with regard to musical structure: black metal sounds only occasionally here. Nevertheless, it should be noted that when doom metal, or rather dark metal, as they say, dominates the album, the vocals confidently recalibrate the material into the black metal channel. It's hard to imagine doom metal with such vocals. Black metal is much better.

Yes, of course, when it comes to "Dictius Te Necare", willing or not, it is necessary to start with the vocals. Today, screaming and squealing vocalists are a credit a dozen in the scene, but Rainer Landfermann is still a vocal phenomenon in metal music. Starting with his unimaginable hysterical outcry, which is a kind of crazy intro for "Schatten aus der Alexander Welt", he holds to the very end the reins of the emotionality of the whole album. Landfermann groans, shrieks, growls, gurgles, howls, switches to the evil harsh vocals. With his uncontrollable maniacality, he unconsciously creates what will later be called depressive black metal. Suicidal too.

Landfermann's vocal style, with the accuracy of a psychoanalyst, conveys the essence of Bethlehem's music – hopelessness and despair. And provocation – yes, don't forget about provocation. At the same time, Landfermann's work is not only remarkable as a sure remedy to fall into a deep abyss of self-pity, or as a method to shock others. Neighborhood, for example: what could be more criminal than to put the album on at full volume at four in the morning? Well, Landfermann deserves the highest possible praise from a technical point of view. On "Dictius Te Necare" his parts are carefully thought-out and harmonized with the music for every beat of the metronome. The vocals change with riffs, emphasize each melodic transition, each change of rhythm. In the third song "Aphel – Die schwarze Schlange" at 0:52, Landfermann even enhances with his voice the guitar whistle.

Other impressive episodes of this coordination: in the second composition, "Die anarchische Befreiung der Augenzeugenreligion", which is very melancholy with its plangent riffs, there is a sudden breakdown at 4:06: drums sharply switch over to almost blastbeat here, and the vocals conduct the started wild psychopathic dance; in the aforementioned "Aphel – Die schwarze Schlange" at 5:10 a very penetrating solo begins, the vocals revoice it like a perverted demonic echo; in the fourth "Verheißung – Du Krone des Todeskultes" at 2:00 a "groovy" march-like riff is replaced by a guitar fingerpicking, but due to the hysterical guttural vocals it is almost imperceptibly – meanwhile, the vocals accurately follow the changes in the melody.

"Dictius Te Necare" would not have become a classic of the genre, if it was not for the German lyrics: sharp, stabbing, thorned, rough like sandpaper, – the modernized Teutonic spirit adds to the music madness, brutality and at the same time conceited / perverted poetry. German vocals keep the listener always in being wound up: due to linguistic discomfort, the listener cannot relax, much less get bored. Perhaps if the lyrics were in English, dark metal would have turned out into some gothic metal in many episodes. At the very least, there is no doubt that the message of the band would be softer, and the effect would not be that great and dramatic.

Despite the fact that the vocals of Landfermann are one of the main advantages of the album, he was not the only one who made this work legendary. Other important components of this cursed hebenon are a spasmodic structure and mentioned sluggish melancholic guitar fingerpickings.

As a rule, these fingerpickings enter unexpectedly, as if they're pushing everything out of their way, as if they're wanting anxiety and despair to be the main points of the diagnosis. Their main "competitors" are piercing and thorny tremolo picking riffs. Some songs ("Schatten aus der Alexander Welt", "Aphel – Die schwarze Schlange") are completely built according to the scheme of the cross-talk between tremolo riffs and fingerpickings. Or, more precisely, tug-of-war. Thanks to such abrupt transitions from a slow tempo to a fast one, a torn song structure is formed. Perhaps, for another doom metal album such rough transitions – like one piece glued to another – would sound terrifying, but in the case of "Dictius Te Necare" they escalate the schizophrenic and maniacal atmosphere. That is the whole point.

When the guitars take a rest from tremolo and fingerpicking, they generate funerary chords with long release. The dissonant chords in the finale of "Die anarchische Befreiung der Augenzeugenreligion" became a real classic of the depressive genre. However, almost all such slow viscous riffs – and this is very interesting – are put at the beginning of the compositions: for example, at the beginning of the fifth "Verschleierte Irreligiosität" (by the way, this is an updated version of "Veiled Irreligion" from the previous album "Dark Metal" – schizophrenia is by one order less here). The riff at the beginning of the fourth "Verheißung – Du Krone des Todeskultes" is the most baleful riff on the album. The seventh "Dorn meiner Allmacht" also begins with a vicious and rasping riff, but it is weaker. As for solos, besides the above mentioned in "Aphel – Die schwarze Schlange", it's worth mentioning the solo in "Verschleierte Irreligiosität", however, it is more in the vein of classic heavy metal.

It can also be noted that there are several successful passages in the work of bass guitar here. In "Die anarchische Befreiung der Augenzeugenreligion" from 3:05, to the accompaniment of slow malleable chords, there is a bass fingerpicking, almost in the spirit of The Sisters of Mercy. "Tagebuch einer Totgeburt" begins with a rather "optimistic" part of bass, which is picked up by guitar, and from 1:34 bass produces some waltz-like melody, very yearnful.

The manner of switching to ambient / experimental episodes (just episodes, not self-contained long compositions, like, for example, by Burzum) was also adopted by subsequent generations of depressive black metal musicians – this technique enhances the feeling of coldness and emptiness. But, in truth, Bethlehem doesn't abuse this technique so much, a means for a melodic change doesn't turn into a fetish for them. On "Dictius Te Necare" these are the following episodes: in "Die anarchische Befreiung der Augenzeugenreligion" from 2:17 a despaired piano sounds; in "Verheißung – Du Krone des Todeskultes" at 4:04 there is some damned choir; in "Verschleierte Irreligiosität" at 3:46 there is an unexpected transition to the piano, it can be said too, that the hysterical vocals created the canon for depressive black metal here; in "Dorn meiner Allmacht" at 4:10 a guitar fingerpicking sounds, reinforced by solemnly funeral keyboards and whispering vocals, – such a method also became a classic of depression.

Not just dark, but also chaotic and insane - 100%

HviteGuden, April 5th, 2020

It's fair to call Bethlehem an experimental band. The sound of it has always been changing. And it was different even inside separate eras. The early era, which is united by the first three full-length albums, is diverse, because all of those three records differ from each other. An important factor for it is the fact of changing vocalists, as this place in a musical band is frontal. On "Dictius Te Necare" there was only one change in the lineup, that was exactly the replacement of a vocalist, as Andreas Classen left the band and Rainer Landfermann stepped in. So, "Dictius Te Necare" differs from the preceding album. Stylistically "Dark Metal" was a mix of black, doom and death metal (with the proportions descending from a one genre to another). All that stuff was even flavored with some gothic keyboard performance. And on "Dictius Te Necare" the band abandoned death metal, while black metal began to prevail even more. The main characteristic of Bethlehem's music - an impenetrable darkness - has remained among the dominant ones. Yet eventually "Dictius Te Necare" brought some own features.

"Dark Metal" contained multiple changes of themes and tempo. Those were the seeds of chaoticness, which became a one of the leading characteristics on "Dictius Te Necare". Bethlehem's music was emotional before, now it's highly emotional - hysterical. Both themes and tempo change in a constant, chaotic way. The music represents insanity. Extremely fast and aggressive parts alternate with dismal and eerie slow ones all the time. The album starts right in such fashion. "Schatten aus der Alexander Welt" begins with wicked shrieks and disturbing fast melodies, based on tremolo riffing, but then an absolutely apathetic picking follows, the atmosphere becomes openly delirious. After that themes and tempo continue to change again and again, and again. There's trademark painful lead guitar work of Bethlehem, there's canonical black metal tremolo riffing, there're shrieks, there're whispers and hysterical crying/laughter.

Yes, the vocal performance of Rainer Landfermann is a very important feature of "Dictius Te Necare". It is discussed widely for a reason. The vocals often drag all attention to them. And indeed, they are unique. High-pitched shrieking later became a common thing in black metal, especially in depressive branch of it, but still Landfermann's voice can be recognized easily. So, as it has already been mentioned, Landfermann's main technique is high-pitched shrieking. But, overall, his vocal performance is diverse, because he occasionally uses growls, whispers, crying, laughter, declamations and so on. He also changes the timbre of his shrieking. Thereby, his vocal performance is skillful and is filled with different emotions, which are generally linked with insanity. His shrieks represent unbearable pain. Thus, it is absolutely explainable, why "Dictius Te Necare" influenced depressive black metal so much. This album is always compared with "Death - Pierce Me" of Silencer, which is considered to be a one of the fundamental works for depressive black metal. But obviously "Dictius Te Necare" appeared earlier and with this record Bethlehem directly influenced Silencer in terms of both vocals and music.

"Dictius Te Necare" is a genial work without any doubts. It's diverse, innovative and highly influential. The album is filled with outstanding compositions, yet there's a highlight - "Tagebuch einer Totgeburt". This composition starts with melodic, but piercing lead guitars, then no less painful shrieks accompanies them. Then there comes melancholic picking with nearly crying vocals, after what lead guitars come back in even more depressive fashion, while the vocalist underlines the tragedy with his performance, as the vocals become more hysterical. And then the composition finishes with melancholic picking, which symbolizes post-agonal relief. That's when an oppression becomes beautiful. That's why "Dictius Te Necare" is a genial work. Guitarist Klaus Matton and bassist Jürgen Bartsch both deserve a huge credit for sincere and convincing transformation of their personal tragedies to music. "Dictius Te Necare" is dedicated to all suicide victims and it's pretty clear why.

Dictius te Necare - 100%

Tomb_of_Cunt, March 28th, 2014

Most people were put off by the extreme vocals on this album. I could never understand that. From the beginning Bethlehem was never a band who wanted to conform to any sort of conventional ways or values. Bethlehem’s music has and will always be about suicide, madness, mental illness etc. and you simply can’t expect a band that addresses such dark subject matter in their work to sound like every other outfit out there.

The vocals are tormenting, uncomforting, cold and insane. This is one of the main aspects that make this album such a legendary masterpiece. Just by listening to the moaning, screams and utter desolation within the vocal style, you can already feel the uncanniness and total loss of hope that is ever-present within the music and lyrics. The guitars are very basic most of the time – it seems that it is mostly power-riffs that are played, but the band uses this very effectively. This proves once again that the simplest things in art can turn out to be metamorphosed into a complexity that outsmarts any kind of purity-obsessed individual.

As always, Bethlehem used keyboards in the background. The keyboards contribute a very melancholic kind of atmosphere, whereas the guitars function more as a contribution to the cold-heated aggressiveness that is present in the music. The guitar riffs differ from low-tuned to high-pitched. On the third track there is an intro filled with high-pitched riffs that goes along very well with the opening scream uttered by the vocalist. For those who are musical purists, the way in which Bethlehem switches between low-tuned and high-pitched riffs, as well as faster and slower pieces might seem boring, but in that case the purists are totally missing the point.

Towards the end of the album there are much more mellow and dreamy parts in the music. This consists of pieces that are played on keyboard and very slow guitar. It is beautiful in its own sense, since the melancholy and loss of hope is still ever-present.

In contradiction with the highly paced piece of madness that the album started off with on the first track, it ends with a slow fading piece on the last track that feels as if it is leaving you out there in the cold to despair until the angel of death comes to take you.

Along with “Death – Pierce Me” by Silencer, this is certainly of the greatest masterpieces of madness in the dark bowels of metal history.

Dictius Te Necare - 78%

Noctir, September 27th, 2011

Dictius Te Necare is the second full-length album from Bethlehem, and represents somewhat of a departure from the sound that they established on 1994's Dark Metal. The title is Latin and translates to "You must kill yourself". Inside the booklet, one can see the dedication to all suicide victims. Released in Aprl 1996, through Red Stream, this record introduces a new member of the band and a different approach to creating the same type of atmosphere as before. Replacing Andreas Classen as vocalist is a character by the name of Landfermann, whose style is quite different and much more extreme than what most were doing around that time. This is most notable because it is the vocal performance, more than anything else, that has managed to polarize the opinions of listeners for the past decade and a half.

"Schatten aus der Alexander Welt" was the first song that I heard from this album, and it begins things with a high level of intensity. From the opening moments, the terrifying shrieks of Landfermann grab your attention and one only notices the musical differences after taking time to digest this shocking change. For those familiar with Varg's vocals on the early Burzum albums, this is still a little much to take in, as it is far more over-the-top. There is some variety in the vocal delivery, but the insane screaming and demented howling dominate the sound. Musically, this track sounds more like Black Metal than Doom, sort of like Dark Metal in reverse. The fast drumming and tremolo riffs, along with the tortured wailing gives one the impression that this is a different band, altogether. There are brief sections that are very calm, utilizing clean guitar to create a dismal feeling, but these serve only to bridge different parts of the song, really. Near the middle, there is a riff that sounds as if it was inspired by Hellhammer / Celtic Frost, so there is even more of an argument for the Black Metal material that is present on this record.

The next song is "Die Anarchische Befreiung Der Augenzeugenreligion", which starts out with a much slower pace while retaining the tormented screams and the overall depressive feeling. With that said, this does not come close to the darkness found on the previous L.P. There is a decent amount of variety in the riffs and tempos, but they do not work together to create a cohesive feeling. Instead, it seems very inconsistent and each riff has a purpose all its own, having little or nothing to do with the track as a whole. The song is not bad, but it does not accomplish enough to justify the fact that it stretches beyond nine minutes in length.

"Aphel - Die Schwarze Schlange" is one of the highlights of the album. It begins with a tremolo riff that instills a sense of tension and dread in the listener, with distant howls that soon come to the forefront with a venomous fury. This tempo does not last long before a thrashier riff comes along and alters the vibe for a few moments. As this schizophrenic piece continues, a calm section with only clean guitar and the ravings of a total maniac soon explode into a Black Metal-inspired frenzy. This carries on, with the pace changing quite often, until the latter half of the song. Things get very quiet and subdued, with a clean melody that comes to you like a cloaked figure offering a fresh blade. The almost muffled vocals urge you to take the knife and to caress your flesh with the cold steel. And then, it happens... all conscious thought fades as you are overwhelmed by the utter misery of the riff that follows. With ease, the blade slides into your skin and the blood comes gushing out. The wound is deep, and the tormented howls and anguished cries echo those that reside within your feeble spirit, as your body collapses to the ground in a crimson pool.

The pace picks up a bit with "Verheißung - Du Krone Des Todeskultes", which is absolutely necessary to ensure the listener is alive long enough to hear the entire album. There is some odd effect on the vocals, and the riffs are not as overtly bleak, but it improves as it goes along. The main feeling is negative and somewhat sombre, but not to an agonizing extent.

"Verschleierte Irreligiosität" is a re-recorded version of "Veiled Irreligion", from Dark Metal. As with the rest of the album, the lyrics are in German this time, which actually adds something to the atmosphere. There are some changes in the arrangement, helping to accentuate the style of this album, but in the end the original possessed a much darker and more depressing atmosphere.

The next song is "Tagebuch Einer Totgeburt", which is one of the other highlights of this record. From the acoustic intro to the mournful guitar riffs and woeful cries, this is utter misery and hopelessness captured on tape. Whereas many of the songs feature sections that do not mix well with the rest, everything here comes together to build a sense of despair and sorrow. Rather than being filled with the urge to end your own existence, this inspires more of a feeling of laying in the floor, lifeless, waiting for death to come to you instead.

"Dorn Meiner Allmacht" brings the album to its conclusion, utilizing much less despondent riffs and going for a heavier doom approach, in a way. It is the second-longest track on here, and is somewhat disappointing. While it works well as a Doom Metal song, it does not convey any powerful feeling, so it comes across as a bit of a letdown.

Dictius Te Necare is a good album and contains some of the best songs of Bethlehem's career. As opposed to the last album, where there was a mixture of Black, Death and Doom Metal, this is mostly a combination of Black and Doom. However, when all is said and done, it lacks the oppressive atmosphere of pitch-black darkness that characterized Dark Metal. It is almost as if they counted on the vocal performance to take care of that moreso than the music, itself, and did not put the same effort into all of the songs. At any rate, this is a solid album and well worth picking up, though it could have been even more essential had it possessed a similar vibe to the previous record.

Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com

Hard to be this evil - 84%

TheSunOfNothing, May 4th, 2009

Dictius Te Necare is fucking evil. Really, there is no doubting that. Just listen to the first song on the album, and you'll know what I mean.

This is because of Rainer, the vocalist. The old vocalist for this band mixed low death grunts with high shreiks, but put emphasis on the words to give himself his own style, sounding somewhat "evil", behind emotional and at times fairly melodic riffs that gathered influence from doom metal, black metal, and death metal. Here, the riffs and music are more or less the same, I suppose with less doom influence, but it's not really important. What's really important is that Rainer literally sounds like none other. The only vocalist that can immitate him is Mike Patton (probably his influence). Rainer doesn't do the black metal shreik, rather adopting his own style of shreiking. A style all his own. This vocal style is not unlike that of what Mike Patton does at the end of the Mr. Bungle song "My Ass Is On Fire", and also baring similarities to the former vocalist. Rainer's vocals are literally the ravings of a mad man, and during the softer sections his vocals sound like he is switching off between the rapist and the child about to be raped. Haunting. To add to the sound, he also performs the now famous and extremly popular death grunted vocal style, not quite as much as the last singer, who adopted it as his main style, but it still appears quite alot here, and when it does, it sounds like it was the same man who sung on "Dark Metal". He's got an amazing growl.

Unfortunatly, with all the insanity in the vocals, the other instruments are forgotten. I remember many of the riffs and that most of the songs contain haunting clean guitar passages, and I also remember really liking the drummer, but other than that, not very much stands out, unless your really searching for it and not just casually listening. I mean, they are there, it's just hard to notice them with...the vocals...doing what they do.

The best song on the album is "Tagebuch Einer Totgeburt" (awesome song title, by the way) due to it's extremly emotional surrounding and how haunting the song is, very clean and at times very soft and somber. Extremly well made.

All in all, this is one of the most evil albums ever created. It's REALLY fucking hard to be this evil. Other band's have vocalists that can send shivers down your spine, but none are like this guy. It's unfortunate that he's the only real highlight of the album. The lack of highlights besides the vocals doesn't really bring down the album down at all, I'd give them a 50 if I was to listen to the album without really studying them, and just pay attention to the vocals, they do definatly compliment the vocals well, the vocals alone get a 34.

I expect I'll redo this one eventually, once I've fully examined everything, but for now, I'll just leave it at a 84. Strongly suggested to anyone in the mood for extremly dark or unique music. I expect you'll hate this band if not. I suggest the former release, "Dark Metal", to people who want to get into this band but just can't get passed the vocals, it's WAY more...conventional than this.

An underrated classic - 93%

reclusivemrantiscene, January 25th, 2009

If you’re a fan of Bethlehem, chances are this album is your least favorite—unpolished, outrageous, and just generally more of a black metal album than anything else these guys have released over the years, fans tend to look on this album as an unsuccessful experiment: a vestigial appendage, a sterile mutant.

Judged by Bethlehem’s own standards, this album is a joke—but to black metal fans in general (and this is excluding the regressive kult-culture and all its ill-conceived snobbery) the rest of Bethlehem’s releases are jokes and this one is the diamond in the rough. The only comparison that comes to mind is Ulver’s early BM albums—hailed by fans of folkish BM as pure genius and derided by contemporary Ulver listeners and even Ulver themselves. As hard as it is to believe, BM was once all the rage and many outfits, like Bethlehem here, jumped on the bandwagon only to later regret it—for the most part their fans followed suit.

To my taste this album positively exudes creativity—track 2: Die Anarchische… is a friggin’ masterpiece of atmospheric, experimental black—slow, agonizing, and recorded atop the sound of water lapping against some distant shore: this is the sergeant pepper’s of BM—it redefines what a BM album can be without abandoning that characteristic rawness. My recommendation for this album doesn’t come with any reservations about a lack of “feeling,” intensity, or authenticity.

The recording quality isn’t uniform throughout the album, and that’s always kind of jarring—but that caveat aside, the music is great. Riffwork, vocals, harmonized duets, all just lovely… in a hideous sort of way… and the musical variation throughout is truly a rewarding listen. The vocals range from an ultra-high pitch shriek to a Death Metal growl and so to the guitar work varies from symphonic, hypnotic melodies to chunky, distorted heaviness. Silencer’s one-and-only album Death Pierce Me owes a great deal to this album (and possible copyright infringement—some of the riffs were directly “lifted” from Dictus…) and if you’ve ever heard Silencer then you can use your experience with that album as a barometer for how much you’ll enjoy Dictus Te Necare—if that gut-busting vocal style isn’t your cup-of-tea, or you despise sparsely composed, slow-tempo songs… then stay-away!

If however, you like the weird, obscure, and overweeningly ambitious entries in the history of all-things black and doomy, then this album rightly belongs in your collection. Dictus Te Necare is anything but an incomplete experience—highly recommended—to the right listener this stuff is like potato chips sprinkled with crack.

Their High Point - 95%

antipath, July 27th, 2007

When I think of deranged sickened metal, I think of this. I am cautious to call it black metal, though it shares many important features with black metal. Perhaps their self applied title as "Dark Metal" is best for this band. I'm not sure where to begin in my praise fo this incredible record. The most obvious place is the vocals, as they grab the listener litterally right away, as if to tell you what you are in for with out pretense or omission. But to give all attention to the vocal performance would be taking away from the great guitar work, drumming, and song structures.

The guitar picks up right where their first effort "Dark Metal" left off, and there is even one song from that session re-recorded here with the venerable Lanferman on vocals. Musically, the similarity between the first two albums is uncanny, and there is some times the feel that Dictius Te Nacare is an updated, perfected version of Dark Metal. I like both records, but Dictius Te Nacare seems more like what the band was going for, a truely disturbing vision that is more felt than heard. The guitar work varies from ultra fast to plodding and tentative, to distant and haunting. The acoustic parts work perfectly to convey the manic switching of temperments in the mind of a seriously disturbed person. One moment, raging, insane, and the next calm and despondent, lethargic and dying. I constantly think of that German movie "Downfall" (Untergang) when I listen to this record.

The drumming suits the guitar perfectly, blasting away and rolling like thunder in the raging moments, and fallling to near silence in the aftermath. The skins help to make the music swell, and ebb, adding a great deal to the way one feels the emotions in the record rather than just listening to a metal CD. There are subtlties when there need to be and often a distant sound is achieved by the druming that makes you feel like you're locked in an insane asylum and you think you are hearing things through the torn pandded walls.

Lanferman's vocals are probably the most often discussed feature of this album. And though I love them, I feel its unfair to focus just on the vocals. I would say that the voices here are in the top 3 most bizzare, sickened, demented, and satisfying vocal performances I've ever heard. For those who have heard his real band Pavor, you would know that he is multi-talented, being one of metal's greatest bass players, and at the same time, the most underrated. No other vocalist in the darker metal forms has conveyed such torment, such glee in his own insanity as Lanferman in this release. Switching one moment from screeching, to low deep growls, to twisted and demonic laughter, Lanferman loves what he is doing. The voice is from the deepest pit of his soul and is the perfect foil for the music contained in the record. There are periods of quiet whispers that are just as effective as the screams and roars. The vocalist on Dark Metal was similar, but Lanferman took it to its logical conclusion, improving on the technique in every way.

Few records can have such and effect on the listener as this one. Fewer can set out with a particular effect in mind and achieve it. This is not for the faint of heart, surely if you are fond of Dimmu Borgir, Avantasia, or Six Feet Under, this will terrify you, and you will not understand it at all. But if dark things, not just in music, appeal to you, and the sound of a man falling away from sanity behind a microphone piques your curiosity then by all means look for this.

vocalized trauma - 88%

odradek, February 20th, 2007

In the late 1960s, Arthur Brown introduced "over-the-top" vocals to rock and roll; rather than merely singing, he whispered, screamed, and interjected all manner of unbridled vocal expression into his music. Bethlehem's vocalist Rainer Landermann here performs as the black metal analog to Brown; not to say that he sounds much like Brown himself, but that he performs with a comparable extravagance.

Suffice it to say you'll either love or hate the vocals on "Dictus Te Necare". Landermann's style is so far removed from any convention, even for such an extreme art form as black metal, that opinions of his work are sure to be polarized. The very basis of this album is the tortured wailing of an outright lunatic, drifting one second to the next from hateful growling to moans of utter despair, and the occasional shriek shrill enough to stand hair on end.

The tempos are slow, but this isn't the typical plodding metal sludge. The music is airy, bordering on minimalistic at times, and songs have an almost freeform quality. Various passages feature droning guitars, sparse piano melodies, and delicate drumming, simultaneously freeing up sonic arena for, and lending weight to, the vivid vocal performance.

The combination of Landermann's terrifying delivery and the ethereal song structures make this a one-of-a-kind album. Bethlehem's follow-up album "Sardonischer ..." does bear some resemblence to this work, albeit with a different vocalist who approximates but never completely attains Landermann's dramatic range.