(Red Stream) Enslain Magazine Volume 2, Issue 1 Bethlehem has been a consistent player in the underground now for quite some time. Having released various demos, EP's, and a CD-ROM, they present us here with their fifth full-length. On "Mein Weg", German for "My Way", they continue to walk an unusual yet intriguing line between avantgarde black metal and melodic gothic rock. At any given point, there's no way to expect what's coming next. Could be blast beats, electronic-mechanical samplings, a pianic interlude, or a clean doomy passage. While some songs keep one mood throughout, especially the slower, doom/goth tracks, others alternate between styles, as does "Aalmutter" which sounds like black metal during the verses, and is catchy and melodic through the chorus. Then you have "Felbel Fittich", which starts off almost like "Nothing Else Matters" and stays slow and clean, meeting up with keyboards to create a very solemn and heartfelt song. Thankfully, this is followed by "Dr. Miczo" which begins with an all-out assault of drum battery and anguished vocals, which gives a much needed balance. Despite all the mood changes, the transitions are never discordant, and the guitars seem to lead into the next passage by remaining consistent, yet changing tempo.
Bethlehem's vocals have always been, and continue to be sung in German, with all the nasal accompaniments and utterances expected from the language. The vocal style also varies throughout, usually melodic and clean, but sometimes spoken, or growled, or yelled. This act is unique in their ability to combine so many different elements and still manage to have an identifiable sound that is always dark and meaningful. While not as heavy or black as some might be hoping for, this will be an exciting album for fans of dark metal.