Lebe Dich Leser


Chaos is the well from which wickedness is drawn.  While the light is predictable, darkness […]
May 14, 2019
Bethlehem - Lebe Dich Leser album cover

Chaos is the well from which wickedness is drawn.  While the light is predictable, darkness knows no pattern nor reason.  Madness is classified as such because there is no convenient pattern with which to categorize such actions.  Would not art - true art - then be born of chaos?  An affirmative response qualifies BETHLEHEM as emissaries of sacred gnosis.

Those familiar with these German legends know what to expect.  Lunacy.  Despair.  Catharsis.  Since forming in 1991, the band has been key in expanding the definition of darkness in music and shaped the realm of suicidal, experimental, Avant Garde, Black and Doom Metal.  BETHLEHEM, thus, can be many things; however, all are derived from the outer limits of consciousness and the periphery of sanity.

"Lebe Dich Leser," German for "live empty," is the ninth full-length from the band and will be released this week on May 17th via Prophecy Productions.  1998's EP "Reflektionen Auf's Sterben" was my first exposure to the band and it thoroughly ensnared me under their dark spell.  In over twenty years since, the band has been quite active refining their musical vision with Jürgen Bartsch, bass, keys, and guitars, being the one constant member.  Perhaps this is why the bass satisfyingly retains a prominent role in the music.

Beginning with "Verdaut in Klaffenden Maülern," the listener is introduced to the record's alternate realm of reality.  One is immediately taken by the insipid, volatile, and tortured vocals of Onielar (Yvonne Wilczynska).  Her sex is unable to be determined by her vocal performance.  "Ich Weiß Ich Bin Keins," the third track is led primarily by the bass, the main driving component of the song.  In many ways, if one were to remove the vocals, the song mirrors an 80s Goth track a la THE CURE or SISTERS OR MERCY.  With the addition of Onielar and a wide variety of synths, the song becomes a classic BETHLEHEM track, a compendium of lunacy and projected hatred.

The guitar work also plays a large part in the vibe of the record.  With a pounding, saturated, detuned sound, the fourth track, "Wo Alte Spinnen Brüten," spins.  The guitar is truly the center of focus as it hammers away driving giant nails methodically into the spine of the song with well-placed pinch harmonics, monstrous chords, and slow, churning, wide bends.  Also of note is the seventh track, "Ode an Die Obszöne Scheußichkeit," likewise led by the guitar and wielding the full arsenal of classic Black Metal magick.  This is the track linking most heavily to the band's left-handed, demented past replete with surprise stops, dissonant chords, and maniacal vocals.

One would expect nothing less than such a musical journey from BETHLEHEM.  Were one in search of a fitting soundtrack to their next psychotropic adventure, I would advise to look no further.  The mainstream will never understand such brilliance, a fact making the band only that much more endearing.  To those who choose to look beyond the obvious, walk beyond the beaten path, and expand the very definition of consciousness, BETHLEHEM will not guide your journey but rather widen it.

9 / 10

Almost Perfect








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"Lebe Dich Leser" Track-listing:

1. Verdaut in Klaffenden Maülern
2. Niemals Mehr Leben
3. Ich Weiß Ich Bin Keins
4. Wo Alte Spinnen Brüten
5. Dämonisch im Ersten Blitz
6. An Gestrandeten Sinnen
7. Ode an Die Obszöne Scheußichkeit
8. Aberwitzige Infrashcall-Ritualistik
9. Bartzitter Flumgerenne

Bethlehem Lineup:

Jürgen Bartsch - Bass, Guitars, Keyboards, Electronics, Lyrics
Florer "Torturer" Klein - Drums
Karzov - Guitars, Songwriting
Onielar - Vocals

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