1. Committed to Nothing 2. Black Heart 3. All About You 4. Burn the Evil 5. World of Tomorrow 6. Follow Me 7. "Y" 8. As The World Waits 9. Afterlife 10. Never Hated More 11. Free Yourself 12. Constant Pain 13. ......... 14. Farewell
Alongside Napalm Death, Nasum, and Pig Destroyer, The Berzerker are perhaps the most well-known troupe in the modern grind scene. Famous for their super-sped drum programming as well as their roiling precision, The Berzerker also were one of the first to employ the use of spoken word samples as prelude to many of their tracks, a technique later used (and abused) extensively in the gore/grind scene. The band also gained renown for the repulsive masks the members would wear during live shows, and also from a rumor regarding their one-time drummer supposedly holding the world record for beats per minute. The Berzerker’s reputation became a formidable thing, and the mystery surrounding their actual musical identity became arguably more well known than the songs themselves.
The bpm record rumor was eventually debunked, and with the release of the band’s third album ‘World of Lies’ the masks came off, exposing rather scruffy but decidedly human faces. While there is much to be said for reputation and atmosphere surrounding a band, perhaps it is best that as The Berzerker take the main-stage for grind and Earache Records that they shed some of the more extraneous elements of their image to better direct attention towards their music.
Listening to this album, though, I am wondering whether the shedding process cut a little too deep. While ‘World of Lies’ is an extremely solid album and a worthy addition to The Berzerker’s discography, sometimes it sounds as if part of it is still lying on the editing room floor. Riffs seem incomplete, drumbeats lackluster (which is at this point inexcusable, since they have returned to the use of a drum machine).
At the same time, there is definitive progression that took place between 2002’s ‘Dissimilate’ and ‘World of Lies’, which is a rarity in the grindcore field. I hear more tonal modulation from track to track, though I still half-seriously wonder whether the spoken word intros are more to help the audience quickly distinguish one song from the other than to create an atmosphere. That aside, this album certainly takes new steps, particularly on tracks like ‘Afterlife’, which opens with an undeniably black metal harmony before cutting to a trademark brutal hook, which, in another nice touch, phases from speaker to speaker. Other tracks, such as the standout ‘Follow Me’ exude confidence and mastery. The Berzerker have undeniably realized their potential as the industrially tinged speed grind band of the world, and have the hooks and tricks to prove it. Luke Kenny, the group’s foci and main songwriter also does an excellent job on vocals, choosing his spots to layer gurgles over growls and vice versa.
The album even has an instrumental outro track, which is likely the slowest song ever written by The Berzerker. It is a heavily atmospheric piece of synthesized strings and a repetitive guitar lead that meanders along for more than 20 minutes. While well intentioned, it is indeed far too long, and does not merit much listening beyond the first time, though its presence is noted as a worthy effort at capping a new direction taken for this group.
Once all is over, and ‘Farewell’ has finally ended, I deem ‘World of Lies’ a quality album that for the most part lives up to its hype. This album’s success and shortcomings are likely heavily influenced by the departure of guitarist Matt Wilcock, who tossed in his lot to move to England and was quickly picked up by Akercocke. To replace him, The Berzerker now boast five core members, including three guitarists; a sixth member also exists, named Ivan, who, for the life of me, I cannot place nor explain. This shuffling of members from one album to the next is bound to slow down the pace and progress most any musical group, and while this effort is perhaps not so frenzied as previous efforts, it is still a quality release and top contender for grind album of the year.
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