Berserker - Dark Worlds Collide - (8.5/10)
Published on April 7, 2015
With a band name like Berserker one would expect a sonic assault similar to the Viking warriors that would induce this almost trance like state of fury that would make them lose all inhibitions and fear and attack the enemy with reckless abandon. In the case of Lithuanian newcomers Berserker, though, this theory doesn’t quite manage to come to pass, because instead the listener finds female-fronted melodic/folk metal that doesn’t hold any of the “promised” fury, but offers an interesting take on the genre in its stead.
Dark Worlds Collide is the quintet’s debut album, released independently, and despite the sheer number of bands populating this particular sub-genre of metal, Berserker manage to rise above a good lot of their colleagues that have found label support. With the flute as only “foreign” instrument in use, the Lithuanians do not deliver the all-out folk attack, but delicately integrate it into their compositions. Compared to many bands of their ilk, Berserker mostly stick to the English language, which should help them with accessibility to a wider group of listeners.
Vocally the quintet mostly highlights Agnieška Volček deeper voice (as in not a soprano), which at times is complemented by guitarist Kšištof Jusel’s growl, which usually only acts as accent and rarely becomes an equal partner in this musical marriage. As mentioned, the folk content never pushes to the fore, hence rendering any attempts to compare the band to the usual suspects of this particular sub-genre useless, instead they focus more on melodic metal, which in turn is perked up by the flute and more mature sounding melodies that are not immediately catchy and aid their longevity.
The title track is anything but an in-your-face affair, but convinces with its darker atmosphere, whereas following “Warhell” shows the band more energetic and heavier, again with flute accents and a few longer growled passages, which works very well for the band. The catchiness of a chorus such as “Madness Machine” is offset by the darker atmospheres and it is the mix between all of these elements that make Dark Worlds Collide a very interesting affair indeed.
At the end the Vilnius-based band shows the most folk influence, with closing duo “Viking Ship” and “Mūšis už Žemę” (“Battle for Earth”), which at the same time are two of the, if not THE, best cuts of the album. The former is a nicely heavy, galloping tune with inspired chorus and excellent inclusion of the flute, while the latter stands in full tradition of the rest of the material on Dark Worlds Collide, just in Lithuanian, and the interplay between lead guitar and flute makes it stand out.
Not all that glitters is gold just yet, but for a debut album the Lithuanians show some remarkable maturity, which coupled with the very good song writing results in Dark Worlds Collide being one of the biggest surprises of 2015 in the folk-tinged metal world so far!