What would frustration sound like in a metal format? Given metal’s predisposition to take things to extremes, one can imagine furious guitar lines, grinding drums-teeth and roaring howls, an example of which is the sophomore from German black/grindcore metal project Berkowitz. Sole member Robert “Unas” Zimmerman states the inspiration for Sent To Dominate was the “frustration about war, misery and injustice” against innocents. Apparently it’s not a coincidence then that this album was released 11 years after the 9/11 tragedy, given the lyrics “criticize the social and political mischiefs increasing during the last terror-scarred years”. So, from the start it’s clear that this is an album to be taken seriously, and not just because it is seriously high quality.
Kicking off with blastathon “Endurance”, the duo of Unas and session guitarist/bassist N.K. (Der Weg Einer Freiheit) quickly settle into a grinding groove surrounded by rasping vocals and intriguing prominent melodies. The drumming, while impressive, is not the main focus here as the guitars and bass lead the way quickly into “Dictate Destruction”, a surprisingly mournful affair for such a Napalm Death-esque song title. The blasting takes on a somber tone, and the occasional growl punctuates the rasps effectively. “Paveway To The Gods” and the first half of 8-minute closer “Defects” also fit this grinding black metal ethos, although other tracks on the album showcase a very different outlook.
Possibly in a bid to shoehorn in other influences, the bizarre riff that opens “Zehntausenddreihundertfünfzehn” (“10,315” in English) could have emerged from a sludgy grindcore track à la Cloud Rat, before Unas’ vicious snarl brings track back to familiarity. The track highlights my only gripe with Sent To Dominate; the tremolo guitar melodies are relegated to one channel, which although works fine for stereos, is off-putting for headphone-users. The only weak tracks on here are “Paveway To The Gods”, which bears a marked resemblance to “Zehn…”, and the instrumental “Från Helvetet”, pure Swedish black metal worship with some odd tempo changes thrown in.
Turning the pressure back up, the final two tracks represent a different side of the band altogether: “To The Aggressor The Valve” is a brooding and punishing track with some Decline Of The I elements, and is miraculously heavier than the previous tracks as it sways from doom-speed to black metal blast. Perhaps most bizarrely, some singing occurs in the last 15 seconds, which makes a return in closer “Defects” as the listener goes even further down the spiral. “Defects” takes the dynamics dichotomy to extremes, starting with an instrumental 3-minute bass-enhanced thundering blast before the song crashes to a halt, starting up again in a slow build-up to a mid-paced affair that trails off to some singing before one final metallic explosion.
Sent To Dominate is an album that succeeds on many fronts; firstly, it is a punishingly heavy release that showcases Unas’ rage against society, but at no point does it dissolve into monotony. Secondly, it blends black metal and grindcore in a way that only few (Anaal Nathrakh, Rage Nucléaire) have successfully managed, without compromising on either genre. Finally, despite being extreme metal n’ all, the album still holds memorable melodies to distinguish the songs after multiple listens. Fans of black metal definitely need to get a copy of this.
2. Dictate Destruction
4. Paveway To The Gods
5. Second Class Human Being
6. Från Helvetet
7. To The Aggressor The Valve
Robert “Unas” Zimmermann, vocals, drums (NHSH, Schemen, ex-Molestation)
(Session) N.K. – guitar, bass (Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Fuck Your Shadow From Behind)