Avantgarde Music, 2005
Genre: Black Metal
1. My Funeral to Come
2. Requiem of December
3. Eternal Rest
4. The Last Wandering
5. Apollonia's December, 7th 1647
6. Returning After a Death
If you thought "Journey through the End of Life" was an impressive album, you are truly in for a rare treat with "Requiem of December". Smara has finally developed a very solid and cohesive work and the time spanning the releases shows the amount of effort he likely spent on crafting these songs. I think he's learned a lot about what does and doesn't work in creating a solid aesthetique with all the work produced by Tenebrae in Perpetuum. "Requiem for December" really brings a sort of culmination of efforts between the two projects. Here, Beatrik has shifted focus on the debut album with attempting to create a sorrowful and depressive atmosphere rather than the haunting slab of darkness Tenebrae in Perpetuum brings us. Here Beatrik leverage the guitar tone to help make for a real sorrowful experience, and even though that aspect is the same, the composition feels entirely different, showing that Smara has really developed an inherently new approach with his sound.
Aside from the writing and atmosphere the other thing that is markedly improved is the vocal performance. Smara has really harnessed a vicious vocal tone to accompany this music and he is much less focused on attempting to sound like Varg, which is a really great thing. I think "Requiem for December" really pushes the boundaries of Burzum's melancholy, when Varg played that style. Beatrik borders on the realms of Atmospheric Black Metal and at times incorporates elements that would later be used by Germany's ColdWorld. This album is so magnificent and so epic that it is nearly impossible to describe. What little description I've been able to garner it, certainly doesn't do it justice. I worry this is likely the pinnacle of Beatrik's career, which is unfortunate to think about.
Sadly, shortly after this album was released the Beatrik project was put to rest. Luckily Tenebrae in Perpetuum would run for a little longer, but the liner notes from the re-release of "Journey through the End of Life" gives us some insight into why the project was probably put to rest. From the entry of "Summer-Autum 2006" the following is written "New songs for a possible third album are composed, the music is a further step away from the Black Metal genre, involving may clean guitar parts and some minimalist piano parts." Perhaps the lacking of Black Metal prompted the realization that perhaps the project had run its course. At the very least we are left with some incredible music and "Requiem for December" is truly a masterpiece that, will hopefully, stand the test of time to come. Few bands could ever claim to write something this compelling.
Serpens Caput Productions, 2002
Genre: Black Metal
1. Buried Among Skeletal Woods
2. To Feel the End
4. Last Dawn
5. Journey through the End of Life
6. Journey through the End of Life
7. Spell of Destruction (Burzum Cover)
After a second demo that was more focused on the faster style of Black Metal we delve into Beatrik's debut release "Journey through the End of Life". I don't have the original edition of this, instead I have the beautiful digi-book edition pressed by Aeternitas Tenebrarum Music Foundation in 2008. This is a really nice edition of this album and includes all the lyrics and even liner-notes explaining the history of the project. With such a different title and song names, it seemed the band had undergone some drastic changes in the year between the release of "The Infernal Wolf is Still Hunting".
If you truly loved the song "Last Dawn" then this entire album builds upon that theme ten fold. Here we have a melancholic and somber journey through an album. One of the lines from a lyric is printed on the back of my edition "...this sad autumnal wood will be my grave..." and I think this sentiment aptly sums up the atmosphere here. Beatrik have also evolved in other positive ways. Smara is pulling Vidharr from Tenebrae in Perpetuum in to handle the drum work. While the music seems akin to Burzum and Forgotten Tomb, the one thing I don't understand is Smara's vocals on here. His vocals sound so otherworldy and immense in Tenebrae in Perpetuum, but for Beatrik he tries to stick with a far more standard approach and it doesn't feel like it blends with this more melancholic style. At times this albums pace picks up and you can hear the Tenebrae in Perpetuum locked behind these musicians, but Beatrik still sounds like an extremely different project overall. Listen to the more standard Heavy Metal riff that shows up in "Charon's Embrace" and you'll never hear the likes of that in Tenebrae in Perpetuum song. Two songs from the prior demo are re-recorded for this album and they really were the best choices for a re-recording, "Beatrik" and "Last Dawn" sound great with their new higher quality production. "Last Dawn" really shines through, as is expected. "Beatrik" is a little too vicious for the atmosphere of the new songs being written though. Unsurprisingly this album really closes with a Burzum cover and naturally it really fits the Beatrik sound perfectly.
If you like the thought of pushing boundaries on the Burzum sound and some well executed depressive styled Black Metal, then Beatrik seems to be making some immense strides in the right direction. Overall, I enjoyed this album a lot, but I still think Smara needs to work harder on building a focused atmosphere on an entire album, not just song to song.
Self Released, 2001
Genre: Black Metal
1. The Warrior's Fate
3. Ride the Beast
4. Last Dawn
5. Black Funeral (Outro)
This is Beatrik's second demo and I never thought I would find this, but at this point I give up on finding the first. Maybe someday I will track it down, but it doesn't look like that will be anytime soon. The major reason why I was after this project is because the main member, Smara, is also the main mind behind Tenebrae in Perpetuum. Given how much I love that project it was only a matter of time before I sought out Beatrik. One of the interesting aspects of Beatrik is that it seems to have been beginning in conjunction with Tenebrae in Perpetuum. This demo tape comes with printed booklet (as in from a computer printer), dubbed tape and is limited to 99 hand-numbered copies, of which I own #76.
Beatrik is obviously a very different sounding project when compared to Tenebrae in Perpetuum, so it makes sense that an entirely different project would be necessary for this style. Most the material is more of a raging and fast paced Black Metal. A lot of times it sounds a lot more traditional sounding, but most of the tracks don't have much more than just a raw or harsh edge to them. Sometimes some really melancholic riffing shines through like with the song "Last Dawn", which is the best song on this demo. Other times this mood is evoked by some all too brief clean guitar sections. Each track is separated by some strange and haunting ambience and the demo closes with haunting Ambient outro. The rest of the time the guitar sections saw away and sometimes have lead parts that feel weird like "The Warrior's Fate". I think this lack of a focus on the atmosphere kind of lost me and wound up only having mixed feelings toward Beatrik at this time.
In the end, I only thought this demo was mediocre at best. It came off as a little incoherent at times, which isn't how Tenebrae in Perpetuum comes across... so perhaps my bias on that project affected my view on this one. Even though I quite enjoy the vicious and harsh style of Black Metal, the lack of focusing on building a good atmosphere is sort of where this lost me. Ah well... we shall see if Beatrik's future is brighter.