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Schatten Aus Der Alexander Welt
March 2002
Released: 2001, Prophecy Productions
Rating: 1.0/5
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos

A few months ago I did a “Hidden Gem” review on Bethlehem’s awesome 1994 album, DARK METAL, which I still believe is one of the best doom metal albums I’ve ever heard. For that reason it breaks my heart to have to give Bethlehem’s new double disc not only a bad review, but a flat-out pan. I won’t dwell on it too much except to say that the way EvilG’s guide to the numbering system describes the rating I’ve given this album – “hideous and totally useless” – is, unfortunately, the most favorable description I can give.

SCHATTEN AUS DER ALEXANDER WELT is a gaseous and pretentious mess of spoken word and random noise vomited up from the bowels of a band that used to have a real talent for doomy, depressing, avant-garde metal. At this juncture I think Bethlehem just ought to hang it up. These two discs move at a positively glacial pace, and if you can actually make it to the end of the second disc, you should qualify for some kind of endurance award. There is precious little music here. Several tracks are extremely long passages of spoken words – no music, just talking. Oh, and it’s in German, so unless you happen to speak it you won’t understand a bit of it. All the lyrics are in German too, but that doesn’t matter because you wouldn’t be paying attention to them anyway. When there is music it tends to be tinny, washed-out Euro-techno with a few occasional angry blasts that sound more like gastrointestinal discomfort than doom metal. After a while the tracks all blend together, and SCHATTEN AUS DER ALEXANDER WELT becomes a very forgettable experience.

I don’t mean to kill someone’s creative baby here, because it’s clear a lot of thought and effort went into this material. Perhaps the language barrier is a problem; I understand some German but still could not catch onto the gist of what this was about. So it’s entirely possible I’m being unfair to Bethlehem. At any rate, I would be committing malpractice as a metal reviewer if I advised anyone to buy this album. It’s long, it’s weird, it’s dull and it’s bland. Enough said. This album does nothing to reverse my marked lack of enthusiasm for everything Bethlehem has done since DARK METAL. Der Band ist kaputt.
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