Bethlehem - _Stonkfitzchen_
(Red Stream, 2010)
by: Chaim Drishner (8 out of 10)
If one has to describe Bethlehem's music in one sentence, it would be: quirky music that grows on you. Throughout the band's long musical career, it has produced music in the same line of sounds, almost devoid of a cohesive structure; music which offers almost no hooks. Hence the multiple listening sessions one has to endure in order to comprehend what's been offered by the band with each and every release for the passing decade and a half.

_Stonkfitzchen_ is the latest Bethlehem offering, a 30 something minutes excursion through the unique minds of these dark geniuses, featuring Kvarforth of Shining on vocals. You must admit, there's no one more suitable nowadays to take over this position. He is the epitome of Bethlehem's music circa 2010. Displaying a frenetic performance, with a schizophrenic essence and an endlessly oscillating pitch, Kvarforth's theatrical performance is as uncanny as Bethlehem's music, thus complementing it well.

Bethlehem v. 2010 has managed to keep its familiar searing and sharp guitar sound; dissonant and Stygian, and in that sense the band sounds pretty much as if it had recorded _Stonkfitzchen_ right after, or before, recording _Dictius Te Necare_ or _S.U.i.Z.i.D._. Some piano interludes, mental asylum shouts and hissing vocals present in the numerous track prologues enhance the insanity factor which is all over the place, an attribute that plays an additional instrument in Bethlehem's profoundly dark and mysterious music. From ultra slow, torturous moments to faster outbursts of blind madness, _Stonkfitzchen_ displays the best of the band's potential; raw suicidal metal abundant with emotions and somber spirituality.

Contact: http://www.angelfire.com/ego/bethlehem/

(article published 15/1/2011)


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