Berserker - Blood of the warriors 3/5

Reviewed: 4-11-08


1. Fighting the fear
2. Eternal life
3. Unknown warrior
4. Blood of the warriors and icy look of death
5. Walkyries
6. And now you know
7. Marching to the glory... (part I)
8. ...In the glory you'll die! (part II)

If one were to formulate a dictionary definition of the term "perseverance", one need look no further than Italy's Berserker. The band was formed by brothers Alessandro Alioto and Armando Alioto back in 1989. During the next 17 years, Berserker recorded a staggering 10 demos while seeking out the elusive record deal. In August 2003, still label-less, the Alioto brothers went into the studio and recorded their debut CD, 'Blood of the warriors', presumably financed out of their own pockets. The CD was mixed in January 2004, but still no labels came calling. Finally, in late 2007, more than 4 years after it was recorded and some 18 years after the band was founded, Berserker's debut CD saw the light of day on the up'n'coming My Graveyard Productions label. I cannot comprehend what a triumphant day it must have been for the Alioto brothers to hold their first professionally released CD in their hands after 18 years of toil, rejection and disappointment.

Not to be confused with the Australia's death/grind merchants The Berzerker, this Berserker play a form of epic traditional true metal in the vein of countrymen Battleroar, Doomsword, Holy Martyr, Domine and the like, with perhaps a few more uptempo parts and Iron Maiden influences, and fewer doom influences, than the aforementioned bands. The 8 songs on display are lengthy musical workouts, averaging nearly 7 minutes apiece. The biggest strength of Berserker's music is their propensity for inserting extended instrumental breaks in most of the songs. These passages invariably feature superb riffs and guitar melodies by Alessandro Alioto, who performs all guitar and bass parts on the CD, and are guaranteed to get ol' headbangers frothing at the mouth and flexing those neck muscles. Less successful are Alessandro's lead vocals. He is a serviceable singer, to be sure, but his rough'n'ready range is quite limited, and he has a tendency to drift in and out of key in his thickly-accented English. He's not painful to listen to, by any stretch of the imagination, but he does diminish the songs somewhat, especially in the clean parts such as the acoustic intro to "Blood of the warriors and icy look of death" (amazing song title though). Nonetheless, there are some strong choruses (especially "Fighting the fear" and "Walkiries") that offset Alessandro's limitations behind the microphone, and his obvious enthusiasm mitigates his deficiencies somewhat.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is this: 'Blood of the warriors' will almost certainly appeal to fans of Italian epic metal. It doesn't break new ground in the genre, but the songs are generally well executed and many of the instrumental portions are simply fantastic. The subpar lead vocals, muddy production values and poor drum engineering, and hopelessly cliched lyrics about Odin, marching to battle, bloody swords, breaking chains, gods of thunder and the like are all detractors, but the good elements of the CD outweigh the bad. And irrespective of the overall merits of the CD, I must respectfully tip my cap to the Alioto brothers for their persistence and, yes, perseverance. My understanding is that, emboldened by the My Graveyard signing, Berserker's ranks have swelled to a quartet. Here's hoping that line-up makes a 2nd Berserker CD someday. With Alessandro's knack for writing great guitar harmonies and a boost in the vocal and production departments, Berserker could absolutely become a powerful force in the Italian true metal community.




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