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Asenblut – Berserker

by Anton Sanatov at 12 September 2016, 10:02 PM

All hail the mighty warriors of foreign lands who bring upon their monstrous shoulders the glory that all men seek…

Too much? Perhaps. Alas, sometimes you are faced with a level of machismo so potent that you have to reach for elaborate allusions in order to do its musky presence justice.

Masculinity has always been a delicate and complicated topic - ironically, men can be quite sensitive about such matters - and although its accepted forms and depictions have evolved beyond the images that it had once been associated with, you can always recognise that infamous virility when you see it. The beards, the strong axe-wielding arms, and the throaty calls to battle let you know that the fellas in question take their manhood seriously. And it just happens that the aforementioned character traits also happen to be some of the quintessential attributes of a contemporary Metal band.

And yet much like it takes more than a few superficial hair follicles to be a real man, it also takes a lot more than a burly image and a carnivorous attitude to play reputable Metal. And on “Berserker”, the German Blackened Thrash Metallers ASENBLUT demonstrate that inside their protruding chests of male bravado they are packing more than just testosterone.

ASENBLUT ride in with the wind in their locks on a Thrashy, extensive, riff-based gallop with “Berserkerzorn” (Berserker Rage) and unleash a melodically inclined strategic Metal assault in the likes of ARCH ENEMY. Such tactics are further applied on tracks like “Drachenborn”, “Bittere Wacht” and (the surprisingly groovy) “Schatten über Arkham” where the Nordic sound is instantly recognisable as the drum tempos switch from Viking marches to the pounding of war-hammers and the guitar leads make use of the interludes to soar with Celtic melodies.

However, all of those are the rather familiar stylistic traits of a hoard of other similar Metal records - ones that undoubtedly colour this album with a few strokes of tedium. Nevertheless, what sets “Berserker” apart is its progressive edge; which they cross one foot after the other. Be it the implementation of saw-wheel quick 16th note Heavy Metal riffs on tracks like the Leviathan Metal giant “Titanenerbe”, the arrangement of the epically arpeggiated “Offenbarung 23” -where even the bass strings get some scalar action - the mystical Prog number “Des Alchemisten Elixier” or the straightforward CHILDREN OF BODOM-inspired Thrasher “Auf grauen Schwingen”, ASENBLUT are not afraid to explore the boundaries of their genre.

The production is great. Although there are touches of excessive compression throughout the album, the sound is nonetheless fantastic. In terms of instrumental performances, the rhythm section steals the show. The tight percussive battery and the smooth, heavy bass tones carry every track with a collected gait. The guitar work, however, could do with a bit more work; for the thin tones although apt in their delivery of melody feels far too frail in the context of the other instruments and the execution of the licks often seems to lack confidence. Yet the main highlight on “Berserker” is most certainly the songwriting. Every track has a story to tell, and does so with raging eloquence through a masterful correlation between delicate melodic scenery and harrowing brutality that will undoubtedly gain appreciation from any serious Metal fan.

Overall – “Berserker” is a Metal stud of honest value, and ASENBLUT have proven themselves to be men of pure virtue. This record is by no means ashamed to show brute strength but it is also smart in its application. For any fan of Pagan Metal with experimental pursuits, “Berserker” will most certainly be a worthwhile endeavour.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

  1. Berzerkerzorn
  2. Titanenerbe
  3. Offenbarung 23
  4. Helden des ewigen Sturms
  5. Auf den Feldern von Flandern
  6. Drachenborn
  7. Des Alchemisten Elixier
  8. Bittere Wacht
  9. Berserkers Ruhmeserinnerungen
  10. Schetten über Arkham
  11. Horizonte
  12. Auf grauen Schwingen
  13. Berserker Rage (English Version)
Tetzel von Asenblut - Vocal
Claus Cleinkrieg - Guitar
Balrogh – Drums
Yuri – Guitar
Deimos – Bass
Record Label: AFM Records


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