Saturday, February 4, 2023

Scheitan - Berzerk 2000 (1998)

Berzerk 2000 hit me as quite a shock, as I found the Scheitan debut to be quite satisfactory and would not have expected them to pivot their style so soon. Scandinavian black metal was raging along, but not so much in the hearts of these guys, so they decided to transform the Nordic barrage into something resembling black & roll, or a blend of heavy metal and Gothic metal while maintaining the rasping vocal aesthetic. Normally I don't have a problem with this, as I enjoyed groups like Gandalf from Finland who were on a similar path with their debut, and truthfully, these Swedes are not so bad at it, but I imagine if you were a bigger fan of Travelling in Ancient Times you would have chucked this one out the window as soon as you cleared a couple tunes on the first half of this release.

The sound is still quite smooth, these guys had a grasp on studio professionalism and it continues through the course of their evolution. Simple, rocking chord patterns are layered with equally minimalist melodies to serve as a seat for the emotion of the vocals. Unfortunately, this particular rasping performance does not have a whole lot of range, which could have been more useful to hold the listener's attention when too few of the riffs can. There are some tracks here which actually do convey a greater sense of morose, spacious black metal, like "Soulside", but even there they toss in some female vocals which sound way too goofy, reaching for a sort of folk/Gothic metal mix. However, the snarls on that song sound quite nasty and protracted, and if they hadn't cocked it up with the guest vocal it would have been decent. "Sad to Say" is even more sparse and atmospheric, but here they make the same mistake with the female vocals...they're not awful, but just a little cheesy as they drift along.

I'm sure this was all calculated, as the band members had their hands in a lot of things going on at the current time, but it ends up sounding the track "Terror" which is just snarling, and then the return to fast black metal on the second half of the album, like they had had their fun and gotten it out of their systems?!? Had the whole thing sounded like "Bombraid Over Wastelands" or "Berzerk 2000", it would have felt like the natural, if underwhelming follow-up to Travelling in Ancient Times, but this sophomore is simply split down the center and incoherent, like a split EP between two separate bands, and it's not really good at either of its two this one is unfortunately kind of a bust.

Verdict: Indifference [5.25/10]

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