Having grown tired of their earlier joint project, Dark Tempest's thrash-based aggressions, and united by a morbid, almost pathological fascination with suicide and death, bassist Jürgen Bartsch and guitarist Klaus Matton (who as a boy lost his father to suicide and mother to cancer) founded Bethlehem in 1991.
Along with vocalist Andreas Classen and drummer Chris Steinhoff, the duo proceeded to channel their rampant negativity into the moody, atmospheric brand of dark/black metal (punctuated by tortured shrieking) presented on 1994's Thy Pale Dominion 7" E.P., and 1995's aptly named full-length debut Dark Metal. Their spirits did not improve on subsequent, despair-drenched outings like 1996's Dictus Te Necare (translation: "Kill Yourself"), 1997's S.U.I.Z.I.D. (full title: Sardonischer Untergang Im Zeichen Irreliogiosen Darbietung) and 1998's Reflektionen Auf's Sterben E.P., and various vocalists, drummers, and keyboard players sifted through their ranks as well. Bethlehem also ran into quite a bit of trouble with German authorities over their perceived glorification of death, and, among many, tasteless self-promotion stunts, claiming that former singer Classen had 'offed' himself! The band managed to stay a few steps ahead of the law, however, and even endured the departure of leader-in-misery Matton to complete 2001's ambitiously avant-garde, industrial-tinged double-disc set Schatten Aus der Alexander Welt. Heading into 2002, the Bethlehem lineup consisted of founder Bartsch, Guido Meyer de Voltaire (vocals), Olaf Eckharst (guitar), Reiner Tiedemann (keyboards), and Steve Wolz (drums), and was hard at work on an interactive CD-ROM under the disturbing title Suicide Radio. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi