(Red Stream records)

MARK: 77/100


Not to be confused with the Japanese band under the same monicker, this Bethlehem is the more popular and older of the two, with a vast discography and countless line-up changes, that have left the bassist as the only survivor of the original nucleus. This mini-CD reprises an old song and re-presents it in a different version along with another 5 unreleased tracks.
The opener "Was irh seid, das waren wir - Was wir sind, das werdet ihr" reminds me of Dark Millennium in the somber beginning but a tad more majestic, but afterwards the act's early Black metal roots still come out in some vocal passages, although most of the vocals are more Progressive Goth rock now; the guitar and drum parts in the final part before the reappearing calm are a sort of Thrash/Dark metal in the vein of some Celtic Frost.
For those who've never approached Bethlehem before a track such as "Kalt regelt ab die Krankgeburt" could be a good start, including all of their facades, gloomy, distorted or disquieting parts devoid of vocals, still the ace in the sleeve of this combo is just in the very vocals, as black as pitch or expressive like few, just like in Shining (one of the several bands Niklas Kvarforth is in), but here we've got German vocals in most of the songs, and that's another plus owing to Niklas' perfect pronunciation and to the suitableness of the Teutonic language itself. The riffs are absolutely unforgettable and that's why I repute this composition a classic already.
The brand-new rendition of "Yesterday I Already Died Today" boasts added melodies that divide fans between those preferring the original and those the new version. What's certain is it's more Gothic rock now, yet still a surreal song like a great deal of their past production.
"Kandierte Verlosung zu Ross" is bound to excite everyone after listening to the heartfelt and hypnotic vocal interpretation and the weird central part, whereas "Pillerthrillaren" once again sails close to Celtic Frost's and Shining's musical shores; in addition some clean declamatory vocals opposed to the schizoid typical ones remind of Vintersorg, making it an as insanely evil as original blend.
The closing bonus track "The 11th Hour" is probably the track containing some of the most connected riffs to the farthest past of the German/Swedish outfit, fusing Black metal, Funeral Doom metal and a few Progressive Thrash metal parts as well.
In conclusion, this is not material to start for Bethlehem's neophites, but it reveals itself as a must for old fans wanting to celebrate the 20th anniversary with the musicians. The sounds are excellent in the soft passages but there's always a veil of unwelcome cracking background distortion in the tight parts, and that's a surprise to me, as I don't expect such faults from an experienced act, all the more reason if they're going through a process of revisiting some old tracks, which should of course presuppose stylistic and sonic improvement. An EP which doesn't help guess what the future will bring, what directions will be taken, notwithstanding a record that raises the 4-piece's quotations high again after the critics' flop following its latest full length. An untranslatable title (does anyone know what Stönk means?), a mysterious cover. Haven't Bethlehem always been so abstract and surreal after all?

MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - December 20th, 2010

Line-up on this record:
Niklas Kvarforth - Vocals (2009-) (also in Diabolicum, Funeral Dirge (Swe), Ondskapt, Den Saakaldte, Skitliv, Hjarnidaudi, Shining (Swe), The Sarcophagus, Manes, kkoagulaa)
Olaf Eckhardt - Guitars (2001-)
Jürgen Bartsch - Bass, Electronics, Keyboards (1991-) (also in Deinonychus, Stahlmantel, Morbid Vision)
Steve Wolz - Drums (1999-) (also in Deinonychus, Imperia, Silencer (Swe), A-Rise, Angel (NL), Halgadom)

Grevenbroich, North Rhine-Westphalia - Germany

Official sites:




Demo, 1992


Thy Pale Dominion

Demo, 1993


Dark Metal

Video/VHS, 1993


Dark Metal

Full-length, 1994



Dictius Te Necare

Full-length, 1996



Gepriesen sei der Untergang

Video/VHS, 1997



Sardonischer Untergang im Zeichen Irreligiöser Darbietung

Full-length, 1998



Reflektionen auf's Sterben

EP, 1998



Profane Fetmilch Lenzt Elf Krank

EP, 1999



Schatten aus der Alexander Welt

Full-length, 2001



Wraithen / Bethlehem

Split, 2002



Suicide Radio

EP, 2003



Alles Tot

EP, 2004



Mein Weg

Full-length, 2004



Gestern Starb Ich Schon Heute / Have a Nice Fight

Split, 2009



Suizidal-Ovipare Todessehnsucht

Split, 2009



A Sacrificial Offering to the Kingdom of Heaven in a Cracked Dog's Ear

Full-length, 2009




EP, 2010