The Berzerker

Last updated
The Berzerker
Origin Melbourne, Australia
Genres Grindcore, death metal, industrial metal
Years active1995–2010 (Indefinite Hiatus)
Labels Berzerker Industries
Earache Records (1995-2007)
Associated acts Akercocke
Abramelin
Plague
The Wolves (band)
Mystic Insight
Devolved
Headkase
Man Must Die
KcaveMen
King Parrot
The Senseless
Website www.theberzerker.com
MembersLuke Kenny
Ed Lacey
Todd Hansen
Damien Palmer
Martin Germ Bermheden
Tim Aldridge
Past membersSam Bean
Dave Gray
Matt Wilcock
Gary Thomas

The Berzerker was an extreme metal band from Melbourne, Australia and was formed in 1995. The band's music, heavily influenced by older death metal and grindcore, can be characterized as a fusion of these with speedcore, and gabber. [1] The band's founding member Luke Kenny described the band's style as industrial death metal. [2]

Extreme metal is a loosely defined umbrella term for a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s. It has been defined as a "cluster of metal subgenres characterized by sonic, verbal and visual transgression".

Melbourne City in Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 9,992.5 km2 (3,858.1 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of approximately 5 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".

Death metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. It typically employs heavily distorted and low-tuned guitars, played with techniques such as palm muting and tremolo picking, deep growling vocals, aggressive, powerful drumming featuring double kick and blast beat techniques, minor keys or atonality, abrupt tempo, key, and time signature changes, and chromatic chord progressions. The lyrical themes of death metal may invoke slasher film-stylized violence, religion, occultism, Lovecraftian horror, nature, mysticism, mythology, philosophy, science fiction, and politics, and they may describe extreme acts, including mutilation, dissection, torture, rape, cannibalism, and necrophilia.

Contents

The Berzerker has produced five full-length albums, The Berzerker (2000), Dissimulate (2002), World of Lies (2005), Animosity (2007) and The Reawakening (2008). These were released through Earache Records, with the exception of the last album, which was self-released through Berserker Industries. During the early part of their career as a live act, band members were identified only as The Vocalist, The Guitarist, The Bassist and The Drummer, distinguishable on stage only by the masks they wore. However, the group eventually abandoned this device, after the masks became unhygienic with age, and to avoid unfavorable comparisons with Slipknot. [2]

<i>The Berzerker</i> (album) 2000 studio album by The Berzerker

The Berzerker was the first album of the band The Berzerker. There is no human drummer on this album, as a drum machine was used.

<i>Dissimulate</i> (album) 2002 studio album by The Berzerker

Dissimulate is the second album, released in 2002, by the death metal band The Berzerker. This is the only full-length album the band has released that features an actual drummer instead of a drum machine.

<i>Animosity</i> (The Berzerker album) 2007 studio album by The Berzerker

Animosity is the fourth album by the band The Berzerker released in 2007. As with the first and third albums, a drum machine was used on the drum parts.

A DVD documentary, The Principles and Practices of The Berzerker (2004), includes several hours of live concert footage, as well as the first public images of the band members without their masks.

Most of the band's music videos have been banned from broadcast for reasons such as the possible epileptic fit-inducing imagery contained in the video "Forever", and the horrific imagery of "Reality". [3] The latter features graphic images of cadavers and body parts.

Epilepsy human neurological disease causing seizures

Epilepsy is a group of neurological disorders characterized by epileptic seizures. Epileptic seizures are episodes that can vary from brief and nearly undetectable periods to long periods of vigorous shaking. These episodes can result in physical injuries, including occasionally broken bones. In epilepsy, seizures tend to recur and, as a rule, have no immediate underlying cause. Isolated seizures that are provoked by a specific cause such as poisoning are not deemed to represent epilepsy. People with epilepsy may be treated differently in various areas of the world and experience varying degrees of social stigma due to their condition.

Biography

Beginnings and the first album (1995-2000)

The Berzerker gained the attention of worldwide metal audiences through remixes of songs by death metal bands Deicide and Morbid Angel. They did this by remixing the song with the screams of mentally ill patients with their good friends Stalaggh. Earache signed the act, then consisting only of Luke Kenny as a one-man DJ/programmer. Kenny had previously been a drummer in various Melbourne bands, including an early death metal group called Mystic Insight, but after suffering injuries in a motor vehicle accident which involved twenty 18-wheeler trucks, was forced to give up playing. Earache Records' website suggests that the album was supposed to be recorded at Devin Townsend's Vancouver studio with contributions from well-known metal artists David Vincent (Morbid Angel), Kevin Sharp (Brutal Truth, Damaged), Dan Lilker (Brutal Truth, Nuclear Assault), and Jed Simon (Strapping Young Lad, Zimmers Hole) until they were all injured in a mysterious event. After disagreements and financial issues, Kenny returned to Australia and worked with friend Sam Bean, who recorded guitar parts, as well as backing vocals. Also enlisted was another Sam contributing backing vocals, dubbed "Toby" due to Bean's seniority. Guitarists Jason and Ed Lacey from local metal band The Wolves were also recruited, and after a lengthy recording session, the band's first album, The Berzerker , was released. The album received wide praise in underground metal magazines, and the band was compared to Napalm Death and Strapping Young Lad. [4] The band's masks and live performances earned them further publicity. Videos for the songs Reality and Forever were released, but were rarely aired on MTV and other mainstream outlets. MTV refused after they received threats for "heads to roll."

Deicide (band) American death metal band

Deicide is an American death metal band formed in 1987 by drummer Steve Asheim and guitarist brothers Eric and Brian Hoffman as "Carnage", then hiring bassist/vocalist Glen Benton and becoming "Amon". They would later change the band name to Deicide in 1989. The band rose to mainstream success in 1992 with their second album Legion, and is credited as the second best-selling death metal band of the Soundscan Era, after Cannibal Corpse. Since their debut album in 1990, Deicide has released twelve studio albums, one live album, two compilation albums and two live DVDs. In November 2003, their first two albums, Deicide and Legion, were ranked second and third place respectively in best-selling death metal albums of the SoundScan era. Deicide is known for their lyrics, which cover topics such as Satanism, anti-Christianity and blasphemy. Their lyrics have resulted in bans, lawsuits and criticism from religious groups and the public.

Morbid Angel American band

Morbid Angel is an American death metal band based in Tampa, Florida formed in 1983 by guitarist and sole remaining original member Trey Azagthoth, vocalist and bassist Dallas Ward, and drummer Mike Browning. Widely considered as one of the most influential bands in the genre and important in the transition of death metal from its thrash metal roots, they were one of the first bands to incorporate guttural vocals, up-tempo blast beats, multiple tempo changes and dark atmosphere. They have been described as one of "the most influential and emulated bands in death metal", alongside Obituary, Death and Cannibal Corpse, and have been cited as an influence by many later bands. They were also the first death metal band to experience mainstream success in connection with being signed to Giant Records in 1992, heavy rotation of their music videos on MTV, and having the music video for the song "God of Emptiness" shown on an episode of Beavis and Butt-head. Their first four albums – Altars of Madness (1989), Blessed Are the Sick (1991), Covenant (1993) and Domination (1995) – are considered classics in the genre.

Earache Records is an independent record label, music publisher and management company founded by Digby Pearson, based in Nottingham, England with offices in London and New York. It helped to pioneer extreme metal by releasing early grindcore and death metal records between 1988 and 1994. The label roster has since diversified into more mainstream guitar music, working with bands such as Rival Sons, The Temperance Movement, Blackberry Smoke and The White Buffalo. The company also hosted the 'Earache Express' stage at Glastonbury Festival in 2017 and will be hosting 'The Earache Factory' at Boomtown Fair 2018.

New members, the second album and touring (2001-2003)

The Berzerker had their first full U.S. tour after performing fewer than half a dozen shows, touring with other underground bands Dying Fetus, Gorguts and Skinless. Although the shows were well received, the band did not function through the rigors of touring as a unit and at the end of the tour the session musicians, drawn from Melbourne band Alarum, departed. For some months it seemed doubtful that The Berzerker would last for long. There had been constant setbacks at every stage and any momentum gained was now lost with the departure of the live act. However, the arrival of two replacement members injected new life into the band drummer Gary Thomas from Perth band Plague and guitarist Matt Wilcock from Melbourne death metal band Abramelin, currently in Akercocke.

Dying Fetus American death metal band

Dying Fetus is an American death metal band originally from Greater Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Formed in 1991, the group is known for their consistently hook-laden song structures, characterized by blast beats, complex riffing, slam riffs and heavy breakdowns. Additionally, their reality-based lyrics characterized by political/modern themes are notable in death metal. Various line-up changes throughout the years have left John Gallagher as the sole remaining original member, as well as the band's driving force. According to Gallagher, the band name was chosen while the members were of adolescent ages and was intended to be offensive. To date, Dying Fetus has released eight studio albums.

Gorguts band

Gorguts is a Canadian extreme metal band from Sherbrooke, Quebec, formed in 1989. The band has been through many personnel changes since its inception, and its only constant member has been guitarist and vocalist Luc Lemay, who remains the primary creative force in the band. To date they have released five full-length albums and one EP. Their most recent release is the EP Pleiades' Dust, released on May 13, 2016. Their latest full-length album Colored Sands was released in 2013 and was nominated for a Juno Award. Musically the band is known for its complex, musically dense form of technical death metal, and has become "one of the most advanced, experimental, and challenging groups in the entire genre."

Skinless is an American death metal band from Glens Falls, New York. The band formed in 1992 and disbanded in 2011, but reformed in 2013.

With the arrival of these new members The Berzerker set about recording their follow up album Dissimulate . The song 'No-one Wins' was also released as a video. It was claimed that Thomas' drumming on this song was considered for submission to the Guinness Book of Records as fastest drumming performance and while the band has since dismissed this as a fan-fueled rumour, it was included in official press releases at the time. [5] Around this time the band's dragon logo was redone by designer Ivan Kenny-Sumiga. The band celebrated by playing live shows which resulted in onstage violence in Melbourne for months [ citation needed ] before heading off for a world tour lasting from 2002 to 2003.

After covering Australia, The Berzerker toured the US with Immolation, Vader and Origin, then travelled to the UK for a headlining tour with Labrat, Insision and Red Harvest. This culminated in an infamous Earache Christmas Party appearance, where the band terrorised both record label and the audience. This exceptionally violent and drunken performance was captured on the DVD Principles and Practices of The Berzerker. The band continued on to the US after a brief Christmas break to do another full US tour with Nile, Napalm Death, Strapping Young Lad and Dark Tranquillity. Disaster struck in New York however when Thomas had an altercation with a bouncer that resulted in a broken foot and cracked vertebrae. The band could not pull out of the tour as there was still a week left, and each show had to be played to allow them to afford to make plane flights to the next tour because members of the band were poor. To solve the problem, Kenny took on playing the drums as well as vocals. Nile drummer Tony Laureano played the Carcass cover "Corporal Jigsore Quandary" each night. The footage of this would later be added to the DVD "The Berzerker".

At the end of that tour, the band spent ten days in Florida before their headline tour of the UK and Europe began. With no drummer, auditions were organised and the band selected a local drummer to take on tour. The new drummer was required to learn the full headlining tour set in six days[ citation needed ]. The Berzerker hit the UK for its next round of headlining shows featuring snuff footage, locals being abducted, and audiences getting punched in the face, then headed out to Europe for their first-ever appearance there. Finally after five months of touring the band headed home.

First DVD, unmasked for the first time (2004)

Luke Kenny decided to focus the downtime into compiling all the footage he had recorded of the band, producing a DVD titled The Principles and Practices of The Berzerker. This DVD ended up being over four hours long, consisting of one professionally shot show, another concert-worth of assorted bootleg footage, backstage recordings, band rehearsals, and touring. Also included was documentary-style footage of the recording of both albums (including many unflattering incidents), full interviews with band members, the making of the masks and artwork, and contributions from fans, including one who had tattooed the dragon logo onto her back. The DVD was recommended by Kerrang! for aspiring metal bands[ citation needed ].

The DVD brought with it a change in The Berzerker – for the first time, the band members' faces were unmasked. Following this, a decision was made to lose the masks altogether.

World of Lies (2005-2006)

With Thomas healing in Perth and Wilcock moving to the UK to join Akercocke, The Berzerker decided to record the third album World of Lies over Christmas 2004 with the original lineup from the debut album. It was recorded spontaneously over a week, with no prior planning in direct opposition to how they had created albums in the past. In other changes, all guitar tracks were recorded directly into a laptop via an analog to digital converter without a guitar amp and no live drumming featured on the album. Subsequent live performances featured Dave Gray of Akercocke taking over drumming duties. The album was well received by many critics and one said that "it is a masterpiece of work, that was created in only a matter of minutes".

Animosity (2007-2008)

A year after the release of World of Lies , The Berzerker released their fourth studio album Animosity on February 12, 2007. This recording saw the band return to their older style of music with a drum machine included for the drum parts as well as a faster tempo in most of the tracks compared to the previous album. A special edition version of this album was also available which included a bonus live CD by the band recorded at London Dome on December 16, 2006 featuring the then new track "Heavily Medicated", a selection of tracks from their previous albums, as well as several covers of songs by Morbid Angel and Carcass.

The Reawakening (2008-2009)

Animosity was the last record the band were contracted with Earache Records. For the next album The Reawakening the band released it through their own label 'Berzerker Industries'. The album was only available through their official online store. Following the release they toured extensively in several parts of the world sharing the stage with other acts including Satyricon, Napalm Death, Suicide Silence, and Zonaria.

Hiatus and break-up (2009-2010)

2009 would be the last known year where the band were actively touring the world and playing shows. After October 2009 the band ceased updates. No new tours or future plans were announced. The band appeared to be on hiatus for just over a year, and in late 2010 it seemed the band had indeed split up following several status updates on their Myspace profile referring to 'It's Finally Over' and 'Last Berzerker show in Melbourne'. Furthermore, various close sources to the band[ who? ] have stated that Kenny had recently lost interest in carrying on with the band and has since moved on to a photography job for Evokke magazine. [6] Since the break-up, former bassist, Sam Bean has released an album with his new band, The Senseless. He also stated in an interview that The Berzerker were on "indefinite hiatus", adding that this "is the best way to describe it."[ citation needed ]

Tour members

Recording members

Past members

Discography

Albums

Live albums

EPs

Demos

Appearances on compilation albums

DVDs

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References

  1. Liz Ciavarella, "The Berzerker: Sonic Discontent," Metal Maniacs, vol. 26, no. 2, February 2009, p. 80-81.
  2. 1 2 "Interview with Luke". Powerofmetal.dk. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  3. "The Berzerker Biography and Band Info". Thegaunlet.com. Retrieved 13 September 2013.
  4. "The Berzerker - Encyclopaedia Metallum". The Metal Archives. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  5. "THE BERZERKER Frontman No Longer Working With 'Sweaty Men'". 30 July 2011.