Listening to Sent To Dominate, the new album from German extreme metallers Berkowitz, you can feel your senses and sanity being eroded away under the sonic tempest and destructive breath of the release. It is an uncomfortable encounter veined with dark melodic enterprise and grooved invention which soothes the wounds whilst provoking their own unique damage. A festering blend of black and death metal with blistering spikes of grindcore, Sent To Dominate makes a solid impact on the senses.
Whether it is a memorable one is debatable and will differ from person to person, but in its company the effort and time taken to engage its presence is well rewarded. Released via Gravity Entertainment, the album ebbs and flows in originality and diversity bringing moments which stand out like corrupting beacons and other times manages to fails in igniting focused interest due to sapping similarity. Overall though the Berlin based project has unleashed an album which is satisfying and well worth investigation.
Formed in 2008 by Robert “Unas” Zimmermann who provides everything on the new album apart from session guitar/bass which come from N.K. (Der Weg Einer Freiheit), Berkowitz has followed up their well-received debut Five Thousand Years To Hate with an album which concentrates on a theme ‘calling for resistance against any kind of oppression and violence against innocents’. It is a potent and powerful collection of tracks lyrically and musically which shows no mercy in its intensity and scant regard for respite across its destructive delivery. It is a sonic scourge upon the ear and beyond which moves from compelling grandeur to aversion walking but ultimately returns back to the former as prime reward for standing before its might.
The album for personal tastes hits its highest pinnacles right at the beginning with opener Endurance and the following Dictate Destruction. The first is a primal furnace of riffs and acidic melodic invention which consumes within the first notes and continually lays waste from there on in. With towering rhythms to match the height of the intensity of aggression and sonic mastery unleashed, the track coated in a delivery of verbal spite is a magnetic storm which is elevated at its climax when a dark crunching gnawing groove reminiscent of one the band Wire conjured on their album Chairs Missing emerges. It was a joy back then and in the hands of Berkowitz chews up and spits out the heart with carnivorous malice for a full pleasure.
The second of the pair again is an unrelenting caustic wave of sound and malevolence thrust through a constant tide of vindictive noise, venomous vocals, and swamping corrosive intensity whilst all the while a taunting and magnetic groove mesmerises from within its grinding breath. Infectious and intimidating to equal might, the track is a delicious violation which is welcomed and basked in.
The likes of Zehntausenddreihundertfünfzehn, with its thrashy and brutal thuggish badgering and eagerness within the senses scoring tempest, and the insidious Paveway To The Gods without reaching the heights gained by the first tracks both unveil a rampaging energy and twisted embrace which still hold a hypnotic lure. Sent To Dominate overall is a slow burning adversary, the strengths and distinct elements taking time to come into view so a couple of listens is not really enough to appreciate or fully investigate the release, this pair of songs prime examples as they eventually persuade their strong quality over time.
Though never installing the same rapture as at its beginning, Sent To Dominate through songs like the evocative instrumental Från Helvetet and the constantly evolving Defects ensures the experience is a stirring one whilst within its malicious arms. Whether it is an album which will be able to emerge as a noticeable contender in a wealth of strong extreme metal releases this past year is sadly unlikely but for the rewards it does give it is certainly is worthy of an investigation.
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