Black metal is full of singular weirdo bands, and few of them are quite as singular or weird as Germany’s Bethlehem. Formed in 1991, Bethlehem have progressed through a host of stylistic and personnel transformations in the decades since. Literal dozens of members have passed through the band’s ranks. Despite their chameleonic tendencies, this oddball unit’s chaotic mix of black metal, doom, goth-rock aesthetics, and histrionic vocals — best exemplified on their 1994 classic Dark Metal — has resonated hard with a certain crowd, inspiring such notables as Lifelover, Silencer, and Shining.
Bethlehem’s lodestar is bassist Jürgen Bartsch, whose puckish sense of humor constitutes the band’s other constant feature. (Consider, for example, his absurd press statement upon Bethlehem’s breakup last year, which obviously didn’t stick.) In classic form, Bartsch frames “Die Dunkelheit Darbt,” the second single from Bethlehem’s self-titled eighth LP, in comedic terms:
“Die Dunkelheit Darbt” (Engl.: “Darkness Starves”) breaks away from the once-strong trademarks of a unique subgenre destined for pure darkness and occultism.
Presently, the divide from the old is starving out, if not already dead. With that, this song is yet another farewell to the almost comical mishmash of the same old tricks and habits. Originally written by Karzov, his eight-string “Kraken,” and a full bottle of whiskey, as just an intentionally juvenile reject, “Die Dunkelheit Darbt” has progressed into a serious studio composition that flirts with a myriad of crossover elements this band is often despised for. The End is Nigh? Sure, why not? And we love it.”
But despite the snark, this tune is no joke. Built around a rollicking rock refrain but never sitting still for more than a few seconds, “Die Dunkelheit Darbt” provides a good sense of both Bethlehem’s remarkable versatility and just how bone-smashingly heavy they can get. Listen.
Bethlehem will be out 12/2 via Prophecy Productions.