Being a fairly curious personality I, when confronted by a topic of which I know little of but am interested in, tend to do a little researching on such subjects and such is the case with BERSERK. More specifically Celtiberia, where the band draws it's inspiration and ideals from. Celtiberia was a term used by the Greek and Romans to denote the whole north-east of Spain. In that area a number of nomadic people resided in what could be called cantons and they are said to be the most warlike people in Spain. Originally these people were Carthaginian mercenaries and they fought the Romans with stubborn resistance. Eventually they were overtaken and made to serve as mercenaries (first of their kind) in the Roman army. Their infantry and cavalry were formidable and they fought in a wedge-shaped formation. But it was not until after many rebellions were they finally Romanised. It is assumed that the Celtiberians were called such because they were thought to be the descendants of Celtic immigrants who came from Gaul. All in all it's more of a geographer's theory than an ascertained fact but the numerous traditions and place-names support this theory. All of this have little or nothing to do with the actual music but it's still a nice read and does provide a bit of an inner sight here. But without further ado…
Ok, "Rites Of Supremacy" has every ingredient you need for a pagan Black Metal album. Pagan imagery and ideals and lyrics, some keyboards and some Folky guitars and vocals. Combine that with traditional Black Metal and there you go. Pagan Black Metal all the way down to appropriate production.
And BERSERK does it all with some skill too. There's enough of changes in tempo and rhythm to keep this from getting overly boring and the Folky riffs are pretty good. The keyboards are used sparingly and the usage of Folk-like singing on a couple of songs bring a bit of fresh air.
Unfortunately that is not enough. Apart from one or two tracks none of them really stands out or is memorable. Sure I can remember a couple of riffs but other than that, nada. Just decent, quite enjoyable but ultimately grey. On the other hand that means that there's no absolute fillers here either. However "De Este A Oeste" did manage to catch me completely off guard and caught my attention at the same time. It could be considered a mellower Folk Metal instrumental. Mind you, a brilliant one at that. It has that certain Celtic vibe that makes it pretty unique. There's some flutes, acoustic-like guitars and other Folk instruments. It's totally different from all the rest of songs here (I wouldn't be surprised if it was a traditional song) and that's what makes it the best of the pack. Even if I wouldn't care to listen to this again I could pop the CD in just to hear that one great song.
With "Rites Of Supremacy" BERSERK unfortunately falls in the middle. It's not bad, but it's not really good either and know what, a mediocre record is oft the worst you can come up with. Still worth checking into if you're a fan of BERSERK (well, doh!) or this type of music or you're Spanish and want to get back to your roots. Anyone else might as well pass this by.
Check-out tips: "Rites Of Supremacy", "De Este A Oeste", "Gaze At The Sky" and "Journey To Eternity" (Online September 21, 2003)