From the opening minute of ‘Afsägelserit’, I wasn’t sure what exactly I was supposed to be hearing. Remember that sound when your cassette player starts to eat the tape itself, so you quickly remove the tape, wind it back up, and it miraculously still plays when you reinsert it into the player, but the music never sounds quite “right” again? Yeah, that. I’ve heard…I’ve made better-sounding demos than this with the punk band I was in when I was 13, and we were legitimately recording into a boom box.

Six minutes of hectic that somehow managed to have absolutely nothing therein is followed by ‘Genom döden återfödt’, which considerably ups the ante in the insanity department in a good way, unexpectedly hook-laden, yet discomfiting to the ears, and I may be starting to get what HINSIDES is on about, after all. The title track looms, cloistered, averse to all, dialing back the pace considerably, which, turns out, just gives the hate more room to seethe from open wounds. Until, that is, the halfway mark, the whole thing collapses amid a clusterfuck of tumbling rhythms, psycho-freakout not-scales ripped from string-abusing fingers, only to return to a variation on the original theme.

‘Skymningsfärd’ returns us to the frenzied attack of before, a thousand blood-dripping spear tips prodding in and from all directions, but again there’s that weird sense of a hook buried in the solos, a melody in the madness. The organ that’s been flitting in/out of the mix thus far exits us from Under Betlehems brinnande stjärna with ‘På jordelifwets sorgetåg’, and remember at the start, when I said it seemed like I wasn’t sure what I was “supposed” to be hearing?

I’m still not sure, but there’s something equal parts evocative and provocative here. And I’ll take that over boring any day.
Review By: Lord Randall

Under Betlehems brinnande stjärna
Shadow Records / Regain Records
3 / 6