Sunday, February 7, 2016

REVIEW - BURNING BETHLEHEM - THE UNHOLY PATH TO HELL - CD


BURNING BETHLEHEM - THE UNHOLY PATH TO HELL - CD
DESOLATE PRODUCTIONS/DP01
RAW/MELODIC BLACK METAL
COMES IN A JEWEL CASE WITH INSERT.
BURNING BETHLEHEM IS:
SKORM - VOCALS/BASS
NOKTURN - GUITARS
HEXEN - DRUMS


I.) INTRO / II.) TO THE GRAVE / III.) THE UNHOLY PATH TO HELL /
IV.) BEHOLD THE BAPHOMET / V.) THE LAKE OF ETERNAL FIRE /
VI.) INTO THE SATANIC VOID / VII.) TO WALK THE SHADOWS /
VIII.) UNHOLY RITES / IX.) BLACK RITUAL (DEMO VERSION):

BURNING BETHLEHEM play 90's second wave style Black Metal worship.
Though they are not reinventing the wheel or the genre, They do
keep the flame burning and the spirit alive. What they lack in
originallity is made up for by their skill of keeping the tradition
of no frills misanthropic Black Metal art intact and in full swing.
Lyrically speaking, BURNING BETHLEHEM take a similar approach to 
the bands that created this genre. Satanic/Occult inspired themes
that may be juvenile and uninformed to a scholar of the dark arts,
but still have an impact and entertainment value. Very much along
the lines of how early innovators like BATHORY, VENOM, HELLHAMMER,
Etc. So though they may not be experts on the occult, They are great
musicians who play with the passion of decades past. We begin our
decent into darkness with a brief intro track where eerie pipe
organs play ominous tunes as rain falls and winds gain momentum.
Clean guitars and minimal drumming blend with clean bass guitar
notes that give this an early Doom Metal meets oldschool Heavy
Metal vibe. "To The Grave" really kicks things off as drum fills
fall into a mid-tempo groove that channels the earlier days of
DARKTHRONE once they went into Black Metal territory. Blazing
blast beats and fast riffing locks us into a solid classic 90's
Black Metal sound. The bass is actually pretty audible in the
mix which a lot of the original second wave bands lacked. The
vocals are witchy rasps and hateful croaks that once again sound
a lot like early DARKTHRONE. Musically speaking, This has much in
common with early SATYRICON, ENSLAVED, MAYHEM and even IMMORTAL at 
times. Overall, the production is bleak and Lo-Fi. Not overly raw, 
but not over-produced or polished by any means. Grim and to the point. 
This one is definitely a banger. Title track "The Unholy Path To Hell"
Fires off right from the short drum intro and leads into pure high energy
Black Metal that breaks into another stomper. The riffs are pretty solid
and definitely have an oldschool vibe to them. Drums and bass know their
purpose and serve it well here. Midway through the track we get a pretty
badass segment that has a bit of the old Peaceville Records sound to it.
Had this been released around 1993 it would surely be considered a classic
by today. "Behold The Baphomet" builds up in a similar fashion as MAYHEM's
"Freezing Moon." Dark, forboding guitars that slowly cast shadows in a 
chilling omen of darkness to come. The vocals come as rough grunts through
cavernous reverb that really makes this sound like an album from the glory
days. The DARKTHRONE worship is extremely obvious here too...But it's a solid
and effective formula. Basically, It sounds exactly how the cover art indicates
that it should. Again we have a pretty awesome mid-track segment that leads us
into a melodic, yet brutal finish that is very reminiscent of GORGOROTH on their
"Pentagram" and "Antichrist" albums. "The Lake Of Eternal Fire" comes as an all
out attack. Assaulting the listener at hyper speed and going straight for the
jugular. Fans of SARGEIST, URGEHAL, TSJUDER or early TAAKE will probably dig 
the fuck outta this. There is a strange almost Surf Rock meets Deathrock or 
Horror Punk segment that we go into for a minute. Not a bad thing, Just a 
little unexpected, But we quickly leave this behind and head right back 
into blackened warfare. "Into The Satanic Void" continues the oldschool
GORGOROTH sound. Thundering tom drums and excellent melodic riffs bring
the spirit of the forest alive as charred vocals ignite a fire that burns
throughout the piece. The bass is prominent and doomy and comes in a similar
tone to the classic Occult themed horror flicks from the 70's. The drumming
is particularly great here. Guitars similar to JUDAS ISCARIOT meets BLUE 
OYSTER CULT's "Don't Fear The Reaper" add a cool classic touch as well.
"To Walk The Shadows" arrives on an epic guitar melody that reminds me
of GORGOROTH's song "Sorg." Thrashy percussion's build and blast off
into high energy grooves that soon become blast beats. Eventually we
go into pure Black Metal badassery similar to old DISSECTION or DARK
FUNERAL. Killer hammer on riffs that are both melodic and sinister all
at once."Unholy Rites" starts slow with another "Freezing Moon" style 
intro. This time with low, spoken vocals that sound like a dark mage 
reciting an ancient incantation of evil. This one has a very similar
style to the old BEHEMOTH demos from back before they became Death
Metal superstars. Wailing lead guitars and some really cool palm-muted
riffs lead us into a slow and ominous break before kicking into a mid-
paced death stomp. The ending half of the track almost has a symphonic
quality to it as reverbed guitars similar to "Nightside Eclipse" era
EMPEROR finish things off. "Black Ritual" is more of a bonus track.
Since it's a demo it has a different production quality to it. It's
pretty basic and straightforward. Slow riffs are laid over mid-paced
drums and the vocals are a bit more distant. The bass is still pretty
loud in the mix so luckily that isn't lost here. Early SATYRICON style
guitars come in halfway and offer a nice classic sound. We get a cool
Doom Metal style interlude complete with icy synths that add a new
element. I kind of wish there was more of that throughout the album.
The ending riffs are pretty strong and have a very "Pure Holocaust"
era IMMORTAL type of sound. All in all this album takes the best
elements from the classics of the genre and uses them to create a
solid release.

FANS OF THE 90'S SECOND WAVE BLACK METAL SOUND SHOULD CHECK THIS 
OUT. EVERYTHING THAT MADE THOSE ALBUMS STAND OUT IS CHANNELED HERE.
A TRADITIONAL BLACK METAL SOUND IN A TIME WHERE MANY BANDS JUST TRY TO SOUND LIKE DEAFHEAVEN  SHOULD DEFINITELY FIND EAGER EARS:

7/10
-ABATTOIR-

desolateproductions.com


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