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Beserker - Dark Worlds Collide

Beserker - CD Review
Dark Worlds Collide

Dark Worlds Collide



CD Info
9 tracks
Lithuanian and Polish lyrics
Self released


Berserker is a symphonic Gothic band from Lithuania with Polish roots. They also seem to have a predisposition to play “biker” events; you have my full and undivided attention. Now, you may ask yourself, what’s a Symphonic Gothic band doing at a biker event, and I would be the first to agree that is something of an unnatural pairing of interests, at least at most of the biker events I’ve attended. And I have been a regular for years at little two wheel get togethers like Bike Week in Daytona and that little annual affair in the Black Hills of South Dakota among others. And, somehow, I just don’t see Tarja or Simone being big sellers with a bunch of wildly drunken, heavily armed, Hells Angels. But, that’s not where Berserker plays. They work a different part of the world, extreme Northern Europe and they do a version of Viking Metal that would probably appeal to a fair number of Angels. Just remember, the Doobie Brothers were the House band for the Angels for many years and they weren’t the hardest rockers in the world. And, frankly, the music delivered by Berserker is such that it would probably fit in with a lot of the bikers of my acquaintance, I do ride European bikes in addition to the occasional Sportster.

So, what do we get with Berserker. Well, give this one a listen and get back to me. Lead vocalist Agnieška Volček is clearly not trying to do a Tarja impersonation. It’s a harder vocal style, almost at odds with the stylish symphonic that backs it. She’s not a soprano, not much like a lot of the vocals we get on this site. And, maybe that’s what I find interesting. The backing music seems to be dichotomous, one moment we hear lovely keyboard sounds, the next the guitars are doing material that would put a smile on the face of any heavy metal fan. Then we get that flute, where the fook did that come from? This is a multidimensional sound, one that takes aim at a lot of directions and clearly has a lot of musical paths. I asked the band to provide some thoughts regarding the music and their interests. Got some interesting responses: “We cannot designate our music to one specific style. Overall sound has a lot of common with melodic power metal, but it isn't only substyle we experiment with. We also experiment with melodic death metal and folk, heavy metal, we just play what we find nice sounding, so that's what we have as a result.”. Maybe the best example of this is a track called The Day Human Died. This is a no holds barred rocker, we get a harder than usual femme vox paired with a harsh male death vocal. The background metal is pounding in the best tradition of the genre. Not a lot of extraneous symphonic here, although there is some towards the end. The message is hard, the sound is harder. This is where Volček is in her element. She snarls, she threatens, she sounds a lot like my ex. Both of them, actually, and both were Eastern European, must come with the territory. But clearly, Berserker is at it’s best when the storm clouds gather, when the anger mounts and when the Viking blood boils.

Wolf lets us know the band can handle a ballad, if in a somewhat sinister way. Again, the subject matter takes a different direction, something that happens with some degree of regularity. The band commented on this range of interests. “It's quite hard to describe lyrical material in general, because we describe different things, topics in our lyrical world. Some songs are about Norse mythology, Viking battles. In other ones we ‘return’ to our current world, and put an accent on actual global issues - humanity's mistakes, principles, corruption, immorality - which results unnecessary warfare, slow extinction of mankind, damage to the nature - ecological contamination. Of course we also do not avoid to express personal struggles, fears and bravery, weakness and strength. We have chosen ‘Berserker’ name as a symbol of fierce, fearless fight with personal struggles and with all of challenges we experience.” Again, the vocals are pleasing, if something less stylistic than what we would get with, say, Within Temptation But, how many biker events does Within Temptation get invited to?

I often like to ask bands where their inspiration comes from. Some just like one style of music, they may listen to a lot of different sounds but they don’t necessarily take inspiration from any one type of sound. Others clearly focus on a sound they think will make a difference for them. In this genre, it’s amazing how many bands take their inspiration from Nightwish, and they often sound pretty similar, to the distaste of many a music reviewer (not me, by the way). With the bands in Eastern Europe, we tend to get a wider range of interests, especially those from the northern part of the continent. Again, I put the question to Berserker and the response was interesting, “We gain inspiration from as many artists/projects as possible, but biggest influence made Scandinavian Viking, symphonic power metal and melodic death metal artists like Sabaton, Ensiferum, Nightwish, Sirenia, Kalmah. Movie soundtracks by Hans Zimmer, Brian Tyler and James Horner also left their marks.” Can’t say I know all of them, well, other than Nightwish and Sirenia, maybe a little Sabaton. But, it’s clearly a Viking thing with Berserker, cut with some interesting side ventures to the flute and those occasional soaring keys.

Couple more tracks that need to be mentioned. The first is Viking Ship, for obvious reasons. We begin with the flute. But the sound evolves into Viking metal to stir the soul. The guitars take the lead and our vocalist lets us know the Viking ships have sailed. If you like epic sound tracks, this one will work for you in every way. Leaves Eyes is the only band I’ve head that can match this type of music, this is a solid interpretation of a musical style found only in the Northern part of the continent. And, the flute, paired against the screaming guitars brings a level of interpretation that I’ve not heard before. Well composed, solidly performed, a wonderful track in every regard.

The final track is Mūšis už žemę. Again, we get to the beautiful with this one. At least at the beginning. It then evolves into maybe the most complete track on the release. Don't ask me what it all means, no idea. The track is performed entirely in Lithuanian. Don’t understand a word but you don’t need to. This is as emotional a track as I’ve heard in a long time. Sometimes a band just sounds so much better in their own language and this one rips up the sky. The vocals are completely beyond our understanding (unless your Lithuanian is better than mine), but this one just sounds right. Our vocalist does her best work here, the sound is almost a bit o’ the Green, certainly a folk metal sound of the highest caliber. The band talked about this one a little saying, “it is from the latest project  and is partially funded by Polish ministry of foreign affairs.” Glad to see the Poles are supporting music of this type, somehow I can’t see the American Congress supporting anything beyond “Onward Christian Soldiers” by the Tea Party Chorus of Jesus.

It’s a little different style than what we often cover here. We often focus entirely on a beautiful femme vox to the detriment of all else. I’m not saying these vocals aren’t solid, they’re just working a different terrain. This is a vocal that sails the 7 seas at the front of a dragon ship. It’s harder and the material that backs it is harder, and that’s the way its intended. You don’t get invited to biker events doing Mozart all that often. But this material would work for me at the Iron Horse Saloon in Daytona any day. Even in Lithuanian. Maybe especially in Polish.