The Berzerker – Animosity

I know that numerous people would disagree with me, but I’ve always found one of the most endearing aspects of The Berzerker is their ability to change with every album. God knows that they’re clearly a radically different band from what they were originally. Just look at the path they’ve traced: from early vinyl EPs in the gabba/speedcore style, to the experimental band that seemed just as interested in noise as metal on the self-titled debut, to the pure industralized death/grind of ‘Dissimulate’, and then shocking everyone with ‘World Of Lies” shift to oldschool death metal stylings, albeit more technologically advanced. So, what could The Berzerker do to surprise everyone? Well, exactly what they always do: turn their winning formula right on its ass.

The first thing that struck me as opener ‘Eye For An Eye’ hit was how much more furious it is than the material on ‘World Of Lies’. Whereas that album presents the most conservative, measured side of The Berzerker, this album contrasts by being completely unhinged and pummeling. A cursory look at the track listing can tell you how different it is: there’s no twenty-minute instrumentals to be found here. The total running time clocks in at under a half hour, but damned if it isn’t a half hour that’s used to its fullest. The material on here absolutely never stops; it just give a periodic reprieve to make the return to brutality that much more devastating (‘The Cancer’). Also unlike the previous album’s emphasis on guitar, the sound here seems to be based on everything working together in an assault that would almost remind you of the focus of Sweden’s Aeon were the kick drums not distorted 808s. And man, when it slows down, you know it: the closing death march of ‘Lonely World’ isn’t something I’m going to forget for a while.

However, the loss of emphasis on guitar as the major medium of musical expression doesn’t signify that it’s gotten any less potent; quite the opposite, in fact. The fulminating invective of the riffs on tracks like ‘Purgatory’ shows an entirely new bite to the strings here. Much like the riffs on the self-titled album, they swing wildly between pitches and keys, but possess more fire and misanthropy than that album. It is indeed a fiery album, where everything seems ready to explode at any given moment (and it usually does). Luke’s vocals have become even more extreme than before, and on tracks like ‘Eye For An Eye’ the speed of his delivery might eclipse even that of his legendary performance on ‘Reality’. And on top of music as unendingly brutal as this, his words, always potently constructed, become that much more devastating.

As one could expect, The Berzerker have in no way disappointed on this album. Fans of the band, one of the most dedicated lots of any metal band today, should have snapped this up (especially the limited edition with an entire live set on a bonus disc) long ago, and any other fans of extreme music would in no way be dissuaded to do the same. Highly recommended.

(Originally written for http://www.vampire-magazine.com)

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~ by noktorn on February 25, 2007.

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