Bethlehem - _Reflektionen auf's Sterben_
(Red Stream, 1998)
by: Aaron McKay (
I am of the opinion that the longer I operate in the field of music the more (exquisitely) maddening it is. Look at how long a band like Bethlehem has been around -- almost a decade -- and I am only -now- discovering them! For shit's sake! I feel no need to waste a lot of time dissecting all six mostly superior songs on this emotionally powerful MCD. I -do- feel, however, that I would be remiss if I didn't mention a couple of things. For instance, "Yesterday I Still Had a Beer Today", or "Gestern Starb Ich Schon Heute" (from the previous _Sardonischer Untergang im Zeichen Irreligioser Darbietung_ (_SUiZID_) album); the latter, about two minutes in, exhibits some of the most crafted, hauntingly melodic guitar work I've ever heard. The music and lyrics of the song pull the listener from one end of utter uncompromising darkness to another without ever leaving the abandoned emptiness of Bethlehem's own particular breed of sickeningly black confusion. Since I mentioned lyrics, even though they are in German, the translation to English is worth your time. The "poems", as the band states, that accompany the music are horribly enthralling. To a somewhat lesser degree, the poems/lyrics Bethlehem invoke are mindful of early Dark Angel proliferations, a la master wordsmith, Gene "Drum God" Hoglan, only in Bethlehem's case, in German. The instrumental song, "Angst Atmet Mord" (English: "Fear Breathes Murder"), on _RaS_, just by itself, makes having this release completely worth it. Dark, bizarre, powerful and experimental. If any of these words tweak your interest and curiosity, definitely check out Bethlehem.
(article published 3/14/1999)
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