After putting out two highly acclaimed demos Dawn in 1994 and Nine Worlds in 1995, Norway's Bethzaida has finally got a deal with French Season of Mist label, whose 2nd release this seems to be. The two demos did already show the potential and original approach to dark music with nice melodic guitar work and flute and now the debut album Nine Worlds is out consisting of those two demos re-recorded as as well as two brand new tracks. As the production is much better than on the demos, the songs got a whole new powerful dimension and the skills of each individual member are clearly present. CD booklet includes band photo, obscure booklet backcover painting as well as good lyrics mostly about personal thoughts, beliefs and inner battles and they are all good, staying out of the cliche and are even quite poetic at places. Opposite to what you might expect from a norwegian band, Bethzaida is not black metal, even the overall feeling is slightly blackish not just because of the hoarse vocals but also because of some guitarwork. However, they do also mix with some doom elements as well as death metal into a tasty stew spiced by a mocking happy flute in some of the songs like the title track and Frozen Wastes which happens to be my fave Bethzaida tune, been ever since I got Dawn demo few years ago. There is still room for improvement in arrangements but the two new tracks Burn, Fire... and Forever Night show that the writing skills of the band have not vanished since the demo days a...

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