Berserk
Rites Of Supremacy

A few years back, Berserk’s debut album was a pleasant surprise, an excellent album from an unknown band. Obitus played a significant role with his synthesizers, so I was a bit concerned when I learned that he was leaving and was not going to be replaced. When I first head this new album was finished I started looking for it. Finally receiving it late this year, I have now listened to Rites of Supremacy straight through twice. The synths are not missed at all.

Once again these Spanish pagan black metal warriors have produced epic and majestic songs. Nazak’s vocals are a bit more enunciated but just as harsh. The overall pace is slower with fast passages, or more often, fast drumming with slow guitars. They have surpassed Graveland in simple artistry, particularly with Frozen Wind’s superlative drumming. Many bands try to write long songs, few pull it off as well. With Berserk the key ingredient is keep it unencumbered, the music is simple superficially with some complexity under the surface. Never does the music get lost in distortions and it is quite easy to pick out each instrument and concentrate on it.

The first time I listened to this disk, I thought some flutes or something similar would be interesting, and then “De Este A Oeste” started. The guitars are the central instrument, with minimal flute, but it is a very effective break it the heart of the album. Forjstorm, write more like this. “Gaze at the Sky” features a more vikingesque vocal style that fits the mood of the song. “Astapa’s Ashes” is about a massacre by the Roman army in which the townspeople put up a heavy resistance that has never been forgotten. The title track talks of hanging the heads of the conquered from their horse’s neck after embalming them with cedar oil. “Blood Of The Gods” proclaims “death is an honor in the Celtiberian land. The tour through the centuries, we’ll never forget our roots.” that sentiment is the basis of the whole album, Fight for your land and never surrender. If Berserk is not the preeminent Spanish black metal band today, they will be tomorrow. Another disc full of great war hymns.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
November 17th, 2003

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