You just have to wait for seven years and you get the CD of a band, which’s demo you had bought back then and which you had completely lost track of for just as long. I am talking about LITTLE DEAD BERTHA, who in the mean time had been only BERTHA, a Russian band that plays a kind of Gothic Metal, Gothic Metal with growls or Doom Metal, I should maybe add.
Now I have a certain weakness for Russian bands and Gothic Metal so far had not been among it too often, FORGIVE-ME-NOT with their mix of Melodic and Gothic Rock/Metal are pretty alone there, apart from GORESLEEPS and to some extent also GREAT SORROW. So one thing we cannot accuse LITTLE DEAD BERTHA of is to have chosen an all too much populated genre in their home country. Even if you decide to categorise them as Doom Metal there are not THAT many more.
The septet from Voronezh already has been founded in 1994, where from we only have guitarist Sergey Galushko in the current line-up. Apparently they started out as Thrash Metal, before after two rehearsal demos they re-orientated towards Doom Metal. In this style they recorded the demo “The Reflection About Angels“ (1995) and the tape album “In Memorium Premortis“ (1997), before they moved into the Gothic/Doom genre, followed by “Two Sides…“ (2000) as tape album, which now is getting re-released on CD, while the 2002 album “Light And Shadow” apparently had been more Gothic Metal again. And according to the band info they now are working on new material, which goes into the Melodic Death Metal direction, so let’s see. Oh, and between 2000 and 2003 they had shortened their name to BERTHA, only since September 2003 the LITTLE DEAD is part of it again.
But on to “Two Sides…“. After the not all that usual intro “Intro Sunrise”, which has less of an intro, but more of an instrumental character, “Two Sides Of…” offers us a quite interesting mix of Gothic, Doom Metal and especially vocally also some Death Metal, which is nothing really new, but still awoke my interest in this with more than 60 minutes pretty opulent album. And this positive first impression continued right away with “Frosties’ War“, where especially the guitar leads can shine, something that turns into something like a trade mark of the LITTLE DEAD BERTHA sound.
Vocally Dmitriy Zamaruev covers the spectrum between grumpy and clear, where I have to say that I personally prefer his Death Metal voice as it just sounds more convincing, even though his clear voice is not bad, don’t get me wrong. But he is supported by violinist Veronica Belyaeva and keyboarder Maria Sotnikova, as on the very good “Indifference“, which covers almost all shades of the LITTLE DEAD BERTHA sound, vocally as well as musically, for the first time also with really audible keyboards and also the violin, which either had completely gone under in the first tracks or just had not been used, which is a pity as it brings in it’s very own touch.
“The Timelessness“ clocks in at more than 12 minutes and starts out slow and melancholic, with clear dual vocals and some violin, which somehow reminds me of older LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE (minus the female vocals), which is an exclamation mark here. Then the song suddenly speeds up a lot, before falling back into the original Doom, with a great solo violin, just to unleashing the double-bass again, with fast leads/riffing, a combination of both, which are not that easy to tell apart in this case, altogether a good bit faster than before, with some great dynamics, clearly showing that LITTLE DEAD BERTHA have a lot of potential indeed. And also “Furtive World” proves this with its entwining acoustic and electric guitars and the medieval melodies from the keyboards.
The production not always is fully balanced and the grammar at times is outrageous, but this music is not calculated, but comes from the heart (also because I can compare it to their first release from 1997 first hand), which always is a plus nowadays. Once more a very interesting band from the vasts of Russia. (Online June 6, 2004)