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Bethlehem - Reflektionen Auf’s Sterben (-/10) - Germany - 1998/2006

Genre: Black Metal
Label: Red Stream
Playing time: 28:44
Band homepage: Bethlehem

Tracklist:

  1. Wolfstunde (Vargtimmen)
  2. Yesterday I Still Had A Beer Today
  3. Angst Atmet Mord
  4. Wo Alders Wagen
  5. You Must Play With Yourself
  6. Vargtimmen
  7. Reflektionen Aufs Sterben
Bethlehem - Reflektionen Auf’s Sterben

“Reflektionen Auf’s Sterben” was released back in 1998 and has become somewhat difficult to track down circa 2006. The EP contains a fair mix of tracks featuring alternate mixes and different vocalists spanning the project’s early career. Does this in and of itself warrant a reissue? Difficult question.

 

This release rubs me somewhat the wrong way due to information pertaining to the tracklist and specific changes being impossible to track down. The description offered by Red Stream paints broad strokes, highlighting the fact that the release contains two re-named tracks from “S.U.I.Z.I.D.” (one substantially remixed for this release), two unreleased re-recorded versions of “Vargtimmen” with different vocalists and a previously unreleased instrumental. Off-hand, this sounds like a pretty hefty disc offering a good deal of bang for your buck and a bit of material which you may have never heard previously. This is, of course, not the entirety of the matter and the end result is indeed a mixed bag.

 

The two versions of “Vargtimmen” do not stray far from the original nor offer much of a surprise. The first version, incidentally the album opener, features a straightforward approach which is a bit less manic than the typical BETHLEHEM spouting, yet sticks to the Black Metal roots of the band. It features a moderate ambient/synth intro with subtle electronic elements hidden low in the mix; which is not found on the second version appearing later in the album. The second version also features a bit harsher vocal work which actually reminds me a bit of Malefic of XASTHUR. There is a nice layered/delay effect which adds a touch of eerie atmosphere. This is primarily where the two tracks differ and thus is a bit of a let-down that the mixes do not offer us more in differentiating the compositions from the original.

 

Appearing from the glorious “S.U.Z.I.D.” are the tracks “Du Sollst Dich Töten” (found here as “You Must Play With Yourself”) and “Gestern Starb Ich Schon Neute” (“Yesterday I Still Had A Beer Today”). Despite the fact that Red Stream is claiming at least one of the mixes is substantially different, I fail to detect much of one at all. I must admit that while being an early BETHLEHEM fan, I have not listened to “S.U.I.Z.I.D.” nor “Dictius Te Necare” nearly as much as I should have and thus may not be as apt to spot the intricacies as someone who has destroyed their LP’s through continually spinning them. I have compared the tracks and played the different versions back to back but have not noticed anything major, a couple of subtleties in the mixing appear to be altered but that is all. Sadly, you must take that for what it is.

 

“Angst Atmet Mord” is the up-tempo instrumental which was found on the original release of this EP. This is the only release in BETHLEHEM’s discography where it may be found and subsequently is one of the main reasons to lend your ears. The track features a nice mix of tempos and some excellent drumming to fuel the band’s penchant for manic yet oppressive atmosphere. The other high point of “Reflectionen Auf’s Sterben” is the MAIDEN cover of “Where Eagles Dare” (“Wo Alders Wagen”). This was previously found on the special 2-disc edition of “Dictius Te Necare” and featured in the background of this EP’s title track. It is an absolutely astounding cover in which BETHLEHEM make ample use of the stellar NWOBHM melody and twists it into this frightening form which will haunt your goddamn brain. The insane wailing and odd color is absolutely phenomenal and proves to quite possibly be the best cover I have ever heard.

 

The album closes with “Reflektionen Auf’s Sterben”, which the label entitles a “fight amongst the band.” I would not be terribly excited about listening to a band scuffle in English, much less German. The track is quite gimmicky and can only be forgiven when one takes into consideration the relatively low price tag on the disc and the fact that we were at least offered 6 other tracks of solid music. The sad part is, most of the material has been heard previously or offers so little new, one may be hard pressed in justifying its purchase. I absolutely love the MAIDEN cover but already possess the deluxe edition of “Dictius Te Necare”. The alternate versions of “Vargtimmen” are interesting but nothing more. I already own “S.U.I.Z.I.D.” and do not need slightly altered mixes of said tracks. I must admit “Angst Atmet Mord” is stellar, but that would not reason enough for this reviewer to lay down the cash. Ultimately, I don’t see this passing for more than a completist purchase. (Online June 16, 2006)

Charles Theel



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