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Released in 1998, 'Sardonischer Untergang im Zeichen Irreligiöser Darbietung' (SUIZID) is german avant-garde dark metal band Bethlehem's follow up to the manic and deranged synthesis of black metal and doom that was their 1996 album 'Te Dictius Necare'.
SUIZID is in a similar style, but whilst 'Te Dictius Necare' is very much focused on ferocious aggression/depression, SUIZID is generally speaking more of a despondent and reflective album. There are still frequent passages of spindly, perversely melodic tremolo riffing, galloping, cavernous drums and icy, alternately chugging and crawling doom between which the songs leap in a manic and unpredictable fashion, but there is a much greater emphasis on lethargic and drawn out depressive rock sections, disquieting monotone basslines and melancholy and subdued passages of clean chords this time round.
There are also frequent sections of sombre and drawn out guitar leads culminating in powerful, beautifully sad melodic solos that give the album a real emotive punch, particularly on the tracks 'Gestern Starb Ich Schon Heute' and 'Nexus'. The songs also incorporate ambient, avantgarde passages that merge the sound of wind-up music boxes, tinkling piano, ticking clocks, and chiming bells with echo-heavy, female spoken word vocals performed in german (as are all the vocals), culminating in a very eerie and unsettling atmosphere. The album is forever flying off in new directions, and despite its eccentric nature it never sounds disjointed, with the songs merging their disparate styles beautifully in a way that never sounds forced, with frenzied, up-tempo black metal riffing sharing space with spaced-out ambience, ragged doom and cold-yet-soaring melodies.
The main vocals on the album are performed by Marco Kehren, who replaces 'Te Dictius Necare's Rainer Landfermann with his own similarly styled but subtly different mix of sobbing wails and growls, demented, high-pitched screeching and subdued spoken-word backing, all of which is fitted appropriately around the schizophrenic music. Whilst not as insanely intense as Landfarmann's, Kehren's vocals are neverthess seriously disturbed and unhinged-sounding, and completely in keeping with the eccentric nature of the songs. Often the low rasping growls and ear-splitting shrieks are layered over the top of sobbed vocals or even deranged crooning, contrasted against subtle menacing whispers as well as murky female spoken word interjections courtesy of backing vocalist Cathrin Campen. The varied vocals fit well alongside the unconventional music and noise/ambient samples, all of which come together to imbue the album with a strong sense of manic delierum, abyssic despair and dark humour.
This dark, avant-garde humour is also expressed through the strange artwork and band pictures. The cd cover is a grimly humorous depiction of two horse skeletons stood upright with their heads together as if engaging in conversation, whilst the cd itself is covered in a a bizarre and mundane axeminster carpet design, which is also reproduced within the lyrics booklet. The booklet also contains some very eccentric, so-avantgarde-it-hurts photos of the band-members, incuding vocalist Kehren staring out from behind a set of kitchen taps held up over his face and bassist Jurgen Bartsch sitting staring enigmatically away from the camera with his hand outstretched revealing.... a set of multicoloured plastic clothes pegs.
'SUIZID' is an unpredictable, darkly entertaining, powerfully atmospheric and often hugely moving album with its own unique sound, and is an absolute must for fans of suicidal and avant-garde black metal.
1. Durch Befleckte Berührung Meiner Nemesis 05:28
2. Du Sollst Dich Töten 04:20
3. Gestern Starb Ich Schon Heute 05:11
4. Teufelverrückt Gottdreizehn 09:32
5. Tote Weisse Marder 03:52
6. Nexus 05:01
7. Luftstehs'Ibläh 05:10
8. Als Ich Noch Caulerpa taxifolia Erbrach 04:36
9. Tod Ist Weicher Stuhl In Gar Fleischlos' Gift 01:13
Total playing time 44:23
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Durch Beflekte Berührung Meiner Nemesis
2 Sollst Dich Töten
3 Gestern Starb Ich Schon Neute
4 Teufelverrückt Gottdreizehn
5 Tote Weike Marder
7 Luftstechs' Ibläh
8 Als Ich Noch Caulerpa Taxifolia Erbrach
9 Tod Ist Weicher Stuhl in Gar Fleischlos' Gift