Berkowitz- Sent to Dominate

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Thursday, January 10, 2013

Berkowitz is the project of Unas, a drummer and songwriter that has been involved with a number of different German black metal acts. The project debuted with Five Thousand Years to Hate in 2011 and returned about a year later with another full length entitled Sent to Dominate. Unas has once again utilized N.K. (Der Weg einer Freiheit) as a session guitarist/bassist and the songs fly through a fast paced assault of material that is equal parts death and black metal. There are a few sections where the blasting is stretched out a bit too long, but overall this is a heavy hitting effort that has a perfect balance between the two genres.

Although there are plenty of bands out there that pull influences from death and black metal, Berkowitz is one that really seems to seamlessly move between the styles from track to track. Album opener “Endurance” features the type of heavy chugging riffs and slightly melodic leads that are so common in modern death metal, but as the release continues the songwriting transitions into some chilling riffs that are much closer to black metal. At times the guitar and bass work will even move between the two in the same track, and when combined with the steady blast of the drums this gives Sent to Dominate a consistently heavy hitting sound. However, while there are quite a few moments where the instrumentals really come together and grab the listener some of the songs stretch out the ideas a bit too far. In particular, there are sections where the vocals drop out and the instrumentals go on for extended periods and when this occurs the songs start to drag. It doesn’t completely kill the momentum, but does keep some of the riffs from reaching their full impact.

Unas has both a higher pitched scream and low growl and is able to utilize both styles effectively throughout the course of the album. Quite frequently he will switch off between the two from one moment to the next while still maintaining the same amount of intensity and this adds significantly to the overall energy level on the release. Personally I thought that the lower vocals were a bit stronger than the higher screams as Unas takes on a more commanding presence when he switches to the death growls but both of the vocal styles work well with the type of instrumentals the project creates and give a decent amount of variation to the performance.

Sent to Dominate has some standout moments where the vocals assault listeners over a death/black metal base, but a few of its extended instrumental passages drag on and become a bit repetitive. It’s still an album that is worth checking out for its unrelenting energy though, and with a little tightening up Berkowitz could become a truly must listen to project. The potential is there and Unas has made significant progress with this sophomore effort though, so I look forward to seeing where he takes his material.

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