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Bethlehem were once one of the most influential German Black Metal groups, although their style incorporated Doom, Death, and Groove into what they called ‘Dark Metal,’ the extreme genre that never was. Their second album, from 1996, is “dedicated to all suicide victims,” and its title is Latin for ‘Thou Shalt Kill Thyself,’ or something like that. The band was formed in response to numerous suicides among its members’ friends, including that of bassist Jurgen Bartsch’s pregnant girlfriend.
Yes, this was an influence on the development of the Depressive-Suicidal sound but it’s heavy in a way a lot of that music is not. Bone dry guitars cutting perfectly cold and desolate riffs, skeletal drums, ghostly keyboards (sometimes!), deathrock basslines, and the most amazing, batshit-crazy sounding Black Metal screams of all time. Session man Rainer Landferman gasps, shrieks, chokes, sputters, growls and rants through these songs like he’s hearing the music at low volume through one headphone to make room for the voices in his head dictating the words. It’s all in German, but I can make out references to stone chains, blood, death, snakes, darkness and “animalistic blasphemy.” Apparently the lyrics are pretty hard to follow even if you do speak the language. Pass the thorazine.
T.5 appears on the soundtrack to Harmony Korine’s film ‘Gummo,’ for which the band also contributed one original song.
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