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Bernth - Elevation

Bernth
Elevation
by Mark Machlay at 15 June 2021, 6:38 AM

Bernth Brodtrager may be better known for his online guitar courses such as “10 Steps to Modern Shredding” but has taken his prodigious amount of technique and skill to now release his first solo guitar album “Elevation”. Bernth started playing guitar at the age of 13 after signing up for private lessons at a local music school. As soon as he finished his initial schooling, immediately went out on the road playing concerts and festivals in the USA, Canada and South America as well as all over Europe with extreme metal bands such as BELPHEGOR and BLED DRY. After a couple years in the metal world, he wanted to broaden his horizons and went to study jazz guitar and instrumental pedagogics at the Vienna Music Institute. In his final years at the university, he started working with Austrian band SEILER & SPEER and would eventually finish with honors after a hectic four years. With SEILER & SPEER, he would put out #1 records in Austria, a series of top 10 hits, and play sold out concerts across Europe. Bernth has also worked on several projects as a session and studio guitar player. One such guest appearance on the album “Arson” by post black metal band HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY saw him supporting for the band at a concert in Switzerland in November 2017.

It seems the ideas for “Elevation” had been germinating since even before his Bernth’s concert with KARAKIRI FOR THE SKY. Bernth explains, “four years in the making, “Elevation” is full of signature high adrenaline shredding and embodies the absolute dedication and perfectionism Bernth’s viewership is already accustomed to.” He actually created a full instrumental album before this but ended up scrapping it in the end, citing that there was nothing unique or special about it and didn’t want a another by-the-books instrumental record to be released. After a long tour with a well-known Austrian pop/rock act and a secluded vacation on a Colombian island with his girlfriend, he had an epiphany and began to imagine new and different sounds to help the record sound unique and stand out. Bernth adds, “There are so many articles online claiming that rock music, especially guitar music, is dying and becoming more and more irrelevant nowadays. Thankfully, many aspiring players proved the world wrong since they took over social media with their amazing skill! This is what re-kindled my passion for the instrument and led me to build my own presence on Instagram and Youtube.”

Full disclosure, I had never heard of Bernth even though I follow many solo guitarist’s Youtube channels and upon playing the opening of the first track, I thought I was in for some horrible basement mix from some chump trying to get famous doing flashy guitar tricks. To be fair, “The Kindling” starts off intentionally rough sounding in its opening seconds, but quickly kicks into high-wire dual guitar lead runs, creative use of electronic music production techniques and compelling melodic components. It serves as a perfect introduction to what is probably the first guitar album of 2021 to realize there can be more to a solo guitar instrumental album. Then there is a dip into the neoclassical world with his djent filled take on the famous violin piece “Caprice 24th (Paganini)”. The closest contemporary I can think of that fits Bernth’s frenetic, eclectic style is the enigmatic BUCKETHEAD but mixed with the compositional techniques and sheer knowledge of theory of JASON BECKER. This album hits hard, there is a lot going on and at times it feels like too much. That’s when he feels the need the take down a notch and go into a clean flamenco guitar-like section. All the more reason to give the album a second, third, fourth or even fifth spin until you’ve collected it all. Unfortunately, I wish there was less breakneck speed and more melodic flare to help boost its memorability but compositionally, it’s nearly flawless.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 6
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Kindling
2. Caprice 24th (Paganini)
3. Séance
4. Dopamine
5. Orbitoclast
6. Monolith
7. Hourglass
8. Yog Sothoth
9. When it Rains, it Pours
Lineup:
Bernth Brodtrager – Guitars
Record Label: Independent
     


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