Sometimes, after days of aural pulverisation from extreme metals finest you just want to sit back, close your eyes and drift away to somewhere far away. For some of you that might be rolling green hills, warm sunshine, birds singing, soft white fluffy clouds floating by. Same for me really, except that I want snipers in them thar hills, WWII fighter planes coming out of the sun, vultures screeching and acid rain falling from those thunderheads. “Mein Weg” gives you that warm trance-like state of being, but also has things lurking within to bite you should you get too relaxed.
BETHLEHEM here I will just call Metal, I’ll leave it to you to decide what hole you want to peg them in. “Mein Weg” has elements from many aspects of Metal, though for the most part they concentrate on dark reflection. They have a quiver full of quirk at the ready which they fire in from stage left with abandon. The production is clear which allows the guitars to soar at hypnotic heights and it is that altitude that features foremost on this album.
“Mein Weg” has punch aplenty, with solid granite foundations, but there is always gossamer guitar gliding above. I am frequently reminded of “The Outer Limits” VOIVOD, especially on “Einsargen.” If you’re looking for the Ghost of Black Metal past, he puts in a brief appearance on “Dr Miezo” but that’s about it. The pace lifts on “Im Sog” as well, which also features some cracking bass lines and there’s that air of VOIVOD again. For the most part though BETHLEHEM provide anthemic Dark Metal which is given abrasion by the German lyrics, which are delivered with growled vocals, strong, clean singing and the ghost of FRANK SINATRA! There are numerous other vocal techniques employed as well, on this promenade along the peculiarity path.
“Mein Weg” is, above all, a collection of SONGS. There is a common thread to all the tracks, but each of them relates to the next in second cousin removed fashion. Variety falls off the back of the camel in baskets fit to burst and invention is just one contraption short of an Edison. Of note through the entire album is the ethereal signature of the guitars. Expressive they are, frequently hinting at twisted romance, introspection and the occasional magic carpet ride. Mind you, whilst you drift away on that breeze, big brother guitar is on his way back from the pub, having failed to achieve his shag and looking for someone to beat upon, be careful it’s not you. On the whole though everything here is in balance, with no one instrument in the ascendant. Make no mistake though, this is a guitar based effort, this is a Metal effort, though at times it demands you ignite your lighter and wave it in the air, it is only to rob your neighbour of oxygen.
So, “Mein Weg” is a collection that uplifts, insidiously corrupts, trips the unwary and that possesses a mesmerising quality which often lulls you along until BETHLEHEM deliver a frying pan to the face to prevent complacency. Having had nothing but praise for this album, I have to say that I found something missing. I have tried to put my finger on it but it escapes me. Undoubtedly this is worthy, having plenty to commend it, especially if you are in the right mood, it’s just… (Online December 30, 2004)