Live From the Woods

Battlelord Productions 2004

I am surprised that I have never heard Berserk before.  I know they have been around for a while.  But I just never took the time to seek them out.  That was a mistake.  I just received their live album and this has to be my introduction to their brand of black metal.  This album contains 7 tracks recorded in Bilbao in February of 2004.  6 of them are Berserk's own material and the last track is a commanding cover of Burzum's Lost Wisdom.  Based on their name I was expecting something along the lines of blasting black metal similar to the likes of Bestial Warlust or Destroyer 666 but it turns out that their style is more like that of Kampfar.  They have a similar melodic style that is somewhat catchy and sometimes even has a hint of a folkish quality.  The main riff that is used in Forgotten Kingdoms illustrates this point perfectly.  When they operate on the more melodic side of their riffing style I feel a sense of triumph and sorrow at the same time.  One thing I really, really like is the fact that you can really hear the bass guitar.  It adds a lot of depth and emotion to these songs.  With this being a live album there are some drawbacks from a that of a studio release.  The main problem I have is how upfront the vocals are in the mix but I guess that is to be expected.  If you can live with the vocals on Darkthrone's Panzerfaust you can survive these.  And the clean vocals aren't as convincing in the live setting as I believe they would be on a studio release.  In Gaze at the Sky you can see what I mean.  The good thing is that the clean vocals are not sued often and even when they are they do not really take away from the overall listening experience.  I am fairly certain this was pulled straight out of the soundboard as there is almost no crowd noise except after the music has ceased in between songs where you heard some shouts and clapping.  My overall feeling is that this is a great band and their superior song writing abilities are perfectly exhibited by this live experience.  I look forward to hearing more by Berserk.