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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

The Berzerker

World of Lies

Review by Mike Korn

The masks have come off but the brutality remains. Up until this release, Australia's The Berzerker have always been enigmatic and mysterious, the members never revealing their individual names and hiding behind grotesque monster masks. But apparently the burden of wearing such stifling concealment (as well as endless comparisons to Slipknot and Gwar) finally got to the men beneath the hoods. As a result, the masks have been retired and The Berzerker stand revealed with their real names.

Does this mean their music has changed? Well, if so, it's for the better. The band is still one of the most pounding and over the top death metal bands in the world, featuring insane velocity on drums and distorted guitars to the max. But "World of Lies" does see the band letting up on the gas a bit. There are still bursts of super-rapid cybergrind but they are not as prevalent as before. The songs have a catchier vibe to them and have been allowed to breathe. The result, as you might expect, is a tremendous improvement. These songs have more going for them than just flesh-ripping ferocity, though that's still here in spades. The catchiness of Carcass (surely their biggest influence) comes to mind upon hearing this. The most radical departure is saved for the last, as the 10-minute plus "Farewell" is almost relaxing with its droning, warm riffing.

If you think you had The Berzerker pinned down before, guess again. "World of Lies" sees them broadening their furious sound while not giving up one iota of savage impact.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Committed to Nothing
This is definitely the Berzerker we know and love, bursting out of the gate with machine-gun drumming and super low tuned guitar. However, you can already detect a move towards more distinct, less chaotic riffing. But that still won't stop this from ripping your head off.
Black Heart
This cut has a kind of surging, tumbling feel to it that reminds me of the best from Carcass' classic Necroticism album. The combination of guttural growling and sick rasps makes this a real vocal holocaust.
All About You
This one just flat out destroys! It's got a real ominous stalking feel to the riffing; not complete speed but not slow, either. If you thought the vocals on "Black Heart" were sick, this will blow your mind completely.
Burn the Evil
This is pure grinding destruction at supersonic velocity. Some of the vocals sound like evil gibberish but the song just manages to keep from flying off the hook completely. I understand the drumming is indeed produced by a human aided by technology, but it's hard to believe that any flesh and blood being could produce the barrage we hear here.
World of Tomorrow
The slower rumbling riff that starts this off is really cool and unique. It soon speeds up to more frantic mayhem. The fast gibbering vocals again surface. I compare it almost to demonic "scat" singing. This track also features more electronic and industrial noise in addition to the crushing guitar assault.
Follow Me
This sounds a little bit like a generic Berzerker track...fast and furious but blazing no new ground and not offering much in the way of memorability. It just doesn't grab me the way some of the other stuff does.
V
This is pretty much the ultimate extension of "heavy." There cannot exist a guitar sound thicker or more massive than this. The track has a thrash-like feel to it merged with a catchy chorus, but the track is just insane! The autopsy sound bites bring the Carcass comparisons to the forefront, but this is right up there with the gore-master's own toxic output.
As the World Waits
An avalanche of roars like a herd of brontosaurs being roasted hits you at the beginning of this bone-smasher. Very precise guitar picking and drumming like a drill lathe at top speed mark this one. It's not a terribly memorable cut but the intensity is frightening here.
Afterlife
The riffing at the beginning of this one reminds me structurally of Norwegian black metal, which is another departure for the Berzerker. It mixes that feel with more typical carnage to create an exhausting example of grindcore excess.
Never Hated More
By now, the constant battering is starting to numb the brain and the tracks are starting to merge together. But this one stands out with some great "galloping" hooks that are a bit more distinct. One of the album's better songs, but amidst such a sea of slaughter, it's harder for individual tracks to stand out.
Free Yourself
The sounds of a raging mob kick this one off. It reminds me of the classic Swedish death metal sounds of the early 90's and could almost be a Grave or Dismember cut given a Berzerkerish twist. There's even a faint bit of lead soloing here, something which the band usually eschews.
Constant Pain
The Swedish/Sunlight Studios sound is even more pronounced here, but by the time this one hits, the human brain has probably reached its limit of The Berzerker. There's only so much pounding one can take before calling "Uncle!" and this cut represents my limit. I think this would have been the case no matter what song was in this slot.
Farewell
After a lengthy bit of silence, the band break all the rules they have previously established by unspooling this extended instrumental. Where the rest of the album is frantic to the point of madness, this is relaxed, starting with a slowly unfolding heavy bass riff. Soon warm guitar comes in to amplify the riff and then a procession of mournful, epic sounding keyboards adds texture. The song proceeds in this fashion with little variation for its length, creating a kind of engulfing drone that swallows the listener. This may bore many and will certainly confuse those who like the Berzerker's more violent output, but I found it strangely compelling and a good example of how this band can extend beyond its own parameters.
 
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