The Italian duo, BEATRIK, might not be as well known as their countrymen FORGOTTEN TOMB, but with two now classic albums in their back catalog, they have remained a strong presence in the underground. The first of these albums, "Journey Through The End Of Life", has now received a well-deserved re-release treatment in digibook-format, which is a great chance for new fans to get acquainted.
For those of you not familiar with BEATRIK, their music is best described as BURZUM-inspired depressive Black Metal charged with cold and melancholic atmospheres. Right from the very beginning of “Buried Among Skeletal Woods” the band subjects you to torturous vocals and strangely melodic strumming, which comes together to form a beautiful but raw experience. Most of the riffs throughout the album are memorable, and stick with you after just a few listens, with the despair having a stranglehold on you the whole time. The BURZUM-influences are very apparent at times, for example in “The Charon's Embrace”, where a passage sounds like it is taken straight out of “War”, and obviously in the excellent cover-version of the iconic “Spell Of Destruction”.
The great balancing and dynamics of the riffs is what makes every song on "Journey Through The End Of Life", and thus also the album as a whole, stand out in their own right. In contrast to a lot of other depressive Black Metal bands, BEATRIK does not rely on monotonous and tiresome repeating of the same melancholic riffs to create a disheartened mood, but rather keeps the listeners interest up with an ever-changing sound. Even the title track, which is the only consistently slow-paced song, creates such a gripping vice of sadness that it's hard to let go, and actually surpasses the other songs with its superb doomy vibe and crushing desolation.
If you are a fan of depressive Doom Black Metal, "Journey Through The End Of Life" is essential listening and a true classic in every respect. You can literally feel all appreciation of life being drained from your body as the record is playing, and thus I could not recommend it as music for the dancefloor or a romantic evening. Still, for the times where everything seems bleak and hopeless, BEATRIK hits you right where it hurts, and stays with you for a very long time.
(Online April 27, 2008)