Bethlehem (band)

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Origin Grevenbroich, Germany
Genres Black metal, death/doom, experimental metal, gothic metal
Years active 1991–present
Labels Red Stream Inc
Associated acts Pavor
Members Niklas Kvarforth
Olaf Eckhardt
Jürgen Bartsch
Steve Wolz

Bethlehem is a German metal band from Grevenbroich, formed in 1991 by Jürgen Bartsch and Kläus Matton. Before starting Bethlehem, Bartsch and Matton used to play in a German thrash metal band called Morbid Vision. Bethlehem are widely credited for inventing a whole new sub-genre of metal, called dark metal, named after their first full length album. Many of their lyrics revolve around sickness, morbidity, suicide, death and madness, and may to some extent be personal to the band.



Bethlehem was formed by Jurgen Bartsch in 1991. They recorded a few demos in the early 90's before releasing their debut album "Dark Metal" in 1994, which featured Andreas Classen on vocals. On their second full length album Dictius Te Necare (Latin: You must/should kill yourself), Classen was replaced with Rainer Landfermann on vocals (known as the bass player in the German death metal band Pavor). Landfermann's vocals were particularly extreme, described by critics and fans alike as "one of the sickest and most extreme voices you'll ever hear from a human being".[1] On S.U.I.Z.I.D. his place is taken by Marco Kehren from the band Deinonychus. Guido Meyer de Voltaire, the vocalist from Schatten aus der Alexanderwelt and Mein Weg, is also well-known with his band Aardvarks. Andreas Classen, vocalist on Dark Metal also did vocals for Shining, Dark Creation (German band), Paragon Belial, Made of Iron, Kadathorn, Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult. Over the years Bethlehem modernized their style and so the early black and doom metal influences are now hardly present, the band favouring a more Neue Deutsche Härte (New German Hardness) and electronic approach. In 1998 Bethlehem collaborated on the soundtrack for the American underground movie Gummo with the tracks "Schuld Uns'res Knöcherigen Faltpferds" and "Verschleierte Irreligiösität".


Until "Dictius Te Necare", Bethlehem faced censorship and was even banned from playing in some German cities. It started when Matton gave one copy of their first demo to a 14 year-old boy. After a while his mother started to call the band, saying that because of their music, her son become aggressive and built a "Satanic altar" in his room. In cooperation with other parents, they started a crusade against Bethlehem and their "satanic" music.

Dark Metal[edit]

Juergen Bartsch, founder and bass player of Bethlehem, group that created the subgenre, defines dark metal this way:

'Dark Metal' is a lifestyle, probably more than this. To the time we started with our own music, some of us made some ugly experiences with things like suicide or death in general. Myself was just back from the big German city I once lived in, where I lost nearly all of my friends and social contacts coz of drug overdoses or just coz they were bored by life in general and therefore killed themselves. Of course I also lost people who were very close to me which totally shocked my complete appearance, from one day to the other let me feel lost and lonely again. When I came back into this miner´s ghost-town here, I had no friends, no nothing but only was buried in pain and suffering. Bethlehem was a way out, it totally helped to explain all those negative feelings and emotions into something so beautiful, which made it so easy to change all those dark things into something which always was a huge hold in my life, into music. Our former guitarist, Kläus Matton also lost his father who committed suicide and lost his mom who died from cancer and surely experienced everything in a similar way than I did. The others, Steinhoff and specially Classen came from broken homes and when I met them for the very first time, I very strongly felt that they also were completely lost. Basically four people came together, of such a kind that they all deeply were buried into something really dark, like living in a huge black hole. With no way out, no options or possibilities. Complete darkness, mental darkness. So the only chance to not follow the circumstances was to destroy darkness with music and though this was done instinctly, I believe today that the creation of a band like Bethlehem was the only chance to save our all lifes. Not as a therapy or so, coz the therapy to that time were cigarettes and alcohol, more a promising path of light, completely born in the subconscious. We never discussed things like that but we all wanted to give it a name. Do remember this one rehearsal, shortly before we started recording our first demo, when suddenly our singer said: "The music is not evil, but it is dark.“ We all looked at each other and we knew it, that we exclusively play 'Dark Metal' and nothing else.






Other publications and cooperations[edit]

  • "Deathophobia I", Force Productions (1993)
  • "Requiem", Exhumer Productions (1993)
  • "Nuclear Blast Soundcheck Series - Volume 8", Nuclear Blast (1996)
  • "Gummo (Soundtrack)" (1997)
  • "Metal Explosion Volume 8", Adipocere Records (1998)
  • "To Live Is Ever To Be In Danger", Red Stream (1999)
  • "Upon A Mighty Bloodred Stream Volume 1", Red Stream (1999)
  • "To Magic...", Prophecy (2000)
  • "Legacy 04/01", Legacy (2001)
  • "To Magic 2", Prophecy (2001)


Current members[edit]

  • Jürgen Bartsch: Bass, Electronics, Synths (Mein Weg)
  • Olaf Eckhardt: Guitars
  • Steve Wolz: Drums (Profane Fetmilch Lenzt Elf Krank, Schatten aus dem Alexanderwelt, Mein Weg)
  • Guido Meyer de Voltaire: Vocals

Former members and cooperations[edit]

  • Jonathan Théry: Vocals
  • Reuben Jordan: Guitars
  • Guido Meyer de Voltaire: Vocals (on Schatten aus der Alexanderwelt, and Mein Weg)
  • Andreas Tekath: Session-Keyboards/Piano (on Mein Weg)
  • Klaus Matton: Electric Guitars (until Profane Fetmilch Lenzt Elf Krank)
  • Marco Kehren: Vocals (on S.U.i.Z.i.D.; Reflektionen aufs Sterben)
  • Markus Lossen: Drums (on S.U.i.Z.i.D.; Reflektionen aufs Sterben)
  • Cathrin Campen: Vocals (on S.U.i.Z.i.D.; Reflektionen aufs Sterben)
  • Rainer Landfermann: Vocals (on Dictius Te Necare)
  • Steinhoff: Drums (until S.U.i.Z.i.D.)
  • Andreas Classen: Vocals (until Dictius Te Necare)
  • Oliver Schmidt: Session-Keyboards (on Thy Pale Dominion)
  • Reiner Tiedemann: Electronics (Schatten aus der Alexanderwelt), Remixes (Suicide Radio)
  • Niklas Kvarforth: Vocals (on A Sacrificial Offering to the Kingdom of Heaven in a Cracked Dog's Ear, Stönkfitzchen)


  1. ^ Panagiotou, Kostas. "Bethlehem - Dictius Te Necare". Archived from the original on 2008-04-16. Retrieved 2008-09-19. 

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