BERSERK - Rites of Supremacy (OAKEN SHIELD - CD 2003)
I think that Spain has never really been known for great black metal bands… Actually, I don’t think that generally Spanish extreme metal scene has ever been known because of any more famous and spectacular bands. We can mention obviously some older death metal bands like Necrophiliac, Unbounded Terror, Sacrophobia, etc… and yes, they were all good, but not quite as good to be in the major death metal league. They were just one of many, second rate bands. Isn’t it weird? All in all, it is a big country located in Europe. So, we can mention some cool death metal bands, but black metal? I was never a fan of Cryfemal, Balmog, Ouija… I remember I liked Lux Divina, but I have heard only their one demo and it was over ten years ago. Same for Foscor. But here is a band, which I was quite surprised, when I played their album recently. They’re called Berserk and the album is “Rites of Supremacy”. I think I got this CD for review around 2003, but after completing my first review I just forgot about its existence. A coincidence made me play it few days ago again after 10 years and well, I can honestly admit that it is a pretty decent and worthy piece of black metal. Probably the best black metal I can think of now from this country.
OK, “Rites of Supremacy” will not be your most precious, innovative and killer piece of black metal. Berserk walks the paths, which were walked many times before, mainly by some classic Scandinavian bands. But somehow their music is interesting and good enough to raise my interest and enjoy it; especially as I just like the cold and harsh feeling it invokes and more so, I also like the epic and atmospheric sides of it. To get the things right, Berserk called themselves pagan black metal. I honestly don’t know what ancient gods they summoned or what were their lyrics about (Celts???), except that they were definitely antichristian. The name itself will obviously remind you Viking themed bands from Scandinavia, but I feel like here it may be a misleading trace. So, forgetting about the conceptual side of Berserk, I would rather focus just on the music.
And that is really OK. There is a good mixture of harsh, often fast, kind of primeval and barbaric heathen black metal, with an epic side, for which Berserk incorporates more atmospheric and melodic parts, some with keyboards, some with acoustics and even with few clean vocals. It is deeply rooted mainly in the old Norwegian scene, if you think of such albums as “For All Tid” for example, as well as such bands as Kampfar, Enslaved (to some point at least) and so on and on. There is some resemblance also to the early / mid 90’s Polish bands like Graveland, Sacrilegium, Abusiveness, Iuveness...with the difference that “Rites of Supremacy” is way better recorded. I’m far from praising Berserk for recording the best album ever, but I also won’t moan here at all. It is just decent and solid piece of music, with such great songs as “Rites of Supremacy”, “Berserker’s Blood”, „De Este a Oeste” (instrumental acoustic song, with kind of tribal drumming, flutes, etc), “Gaze at the Sky”. Sometimes the arrangements on the album could have been better, in stronger fashion, maybe there’s some lack of truly impressive and memorable ideas... And somewhere near its end, the album may feel more and more repetitive, but despite that I still think it is not so bad. And enjoyed listening to it. And while it is the only Berserk album I know, then I am quite curious what their last album “Cries of Blood and Hate” is like.
Standout tracks: “Rites of Supremacy”, “Berserker’s Blood”, „De Este a Oeste”, “Gaze at the Sky”
Final rate: 70/100