The Berzerker began as a mid 1990's one-man speedcore DJ act signed to the Lenny-Dee label Industrial Strength. Based on the reputation of the live appearances throughout Europe and a number of metal remixes including Decide, Earache approached the Berzerker to remix death metal giants Morbid Angel. The combination of brutal gabba with death metal guitars and vox was well received, and Earache signed The Berzerker who returned to Australia to set about recording an album for the label of this new, noisy style.
Originally, the project was to be a death metal supergroup with contributions by David Vincent, Kevin Sharpe, Dan Lilker, Jed Simons, and production by Devin Townsend at his studio in Vancouver. The Berzerker realised that his vision of brain-melting brutality was starkly at odds with that of the firmament and through a number of setbacks realised that production and performance of the band would have to be done by himself and unknown performers. He returned to Australia again and recruited guitarist/vocalist SB as longtime member and collaborator, and also gained the services of Ed and Jay from legendary Melbourne metal band The Wolves on guitar. Album recording was commenced after almost two years of preproduction, and the recording of the self-titled album - after nearly a full year of further setbacks and disasters - was completed.
The Berzerker self-titled album was received to critical acclaim in the metal media, but also some polarised reactions which have marked the band's output throughout their career. Some people loved the album and relished the ridiculous brutality. Others could not handle the huge electronic kick drums, the relentless samples, the superfast beats, and thought it was grindcore idiocy that had lost all semblance of music. They hated it. Reactions became even more mixed when the band started performing live, using members from the rhythm section of a local melbourne band. The live shows were not only loud and noisy but also intensely visual; smoke and strobe machines pumped nonstop, and all the band members were horrifically masked in order to take the live experience to another level. Many people 'got it', understood that it was a method of reaching for something crazier and heavier than any band previously. Many people, however, wrote the band off as a novelty act. The band ensured notoriety by releasing a video for 'Reality' which set new standards for depravity in music videos by including gratuitous amounts of autopsy footage. MTV summarily banned the video from rotation.
The Berzerker had their first full US tour after performing less than half a dozen shows, and the tour was with underground greats Dying Fetus, Gorguts and Skinless. Although the shows were well received the band didn't function through the rigors of touring as a unit and at the end of the tour the session musicians departed. It seemed doubtful that the Berzerker would continue for some months. There had been constant setbacks at every stage, and any momentum gained was lost with the departure of the live act. The arrival of two replacement members injected new life into the band - drummer Gary from Perth band Plague and guitarist Matt Wilcock from Abramelin/Ackercocke.
With the arrival of enthusiastic new members the band set about recording their follow up album 'Dissimulate'. The new members' own experience and ferocious skills lent new brutality to The Berzerker and the album was a masterpiece of speed and brutality. The song 'No-one Wins' was also released as a video, and the drumming for the song was considered for submission to the guinness book of records for fastest drumming performance. Everything went to a new level - even the band's dragon logo was given a spitshine by designer Ivan Kenny-Sumiga. The band celebrated by playing live ugly shows which resulted in onstage violence in Melbourne for months, and when they deemed themselves heavy enough they headed off for a world tour lasting from 2002 to 2003.
After covering Australia, The Berzerker toured the US with Immolation, Vader and Origin then travelled to the UK for a headlining tour with Labrat, Insision and Red Harvest. This culminated in their infamous Earache Christmas Party appearance, where the band terrorised both record label and the audience. This exceptionally violent and drunken performance has been captured on the DVD 'Principles and Practices of the Berzerker'. The band continued on to the US after a brief Christmas break to do another full US tour with death metal kings Nile, Napalm Death, Strapping Young Lad and Dark Tranquility. This forced the band's performance to a new level altogether, and resulted in some of the best live appearances by the Berzerker so far. Disaster struck in New York where the drummer had an altercation with a bouncer resulting in a broken foot and cracked vertebrae. The band could not pull out of the tour. There was a week left, and each show HAD to be played for the band to be able to afford to make their plane flights to the next tour. The Berzerker himself traded in his sole duties as singer to sit behind the kit for a week of gigs, and somehow managed the miraculous by not only pulling off the super-brutal drum parts but his vocal parts as well. The band was assisted by Nile drummer Tony Laureano who played the carcass cover 'Corporeal Jigsore Quandary' each night.
At the end of that tour, the band had ten days in florida before their headline tour of the UK and Europe began. With no drummer, some hasty auditions were organised and the band settled on the drummer from local band Archer to take on tour. He learned a full headlining tour slot in an amazing 6 days. The Berzerker hit the UK for its next round of headlining shows packed full of snuff footage, locals being abducted and audiences getting punched in the face, then headed out to Europe for their first-ever appearance. Finally after 5 months of exhausting touring the band headed home.
The Berzerker decided to focus the off-time into compiling all the band footage he had ever recorded and received into the most comprehensive DVD ever made by an extreme band - 'The Principles and Practices of the Berzerker'. The DVD was a reaction against the cash-in DVDs most bands were making which consisted of a live performance, limited backstage footage and one or two music videos - the Berzerker DVD ended up being over 4 hours long, consisting of one professionally shot show, another concert-worth of assorted bootleg footage, backstage, band rehearsals and touring. They even included the recording of both albums (including each and every unflattering incident), full interviews with bandmembers, the making of the masks, the making of the artwork, and contributions from crazed fans including one who'd tattooed the album cover onto her back. The DVD went down as a must for lovers of the extreme and was recommended by Kerrang as required! educational viewing for aspiring metal bands.
The DVD brought with it a change in the Berzerker - for the first time, the bands faces were unmasked. This brought about a decision by the band to lose the masks altogether. It wasn't just the fact that after a couple of hundred shows the masks were beginning to rot and liquify; there was also a large section of the underground that couldn't see past the masks to hear the music. The band didn't care generally what people thought of them, but they were curious to see if baring their faces would magically make the music sound better to a lot of the population. It didn't matter in any case; the DVD had removed the mystique the masks created and the band decided to run with it.
With Gary healing in Perth and Matt moving to the UK to join Akercocke, the Berzerker decided to record album no.3 'World of Lies' over Christmas 2004 with the original lineup from the debut Berzerker album. The band recorded the album spontaneously over a week, with no prior planning - this was in direct opposition to how they've created their albums so far. Another change was that apart from no drummer appearing on the album, all guitars were recorded directly into the mixing desk without a guitar amp. This is without a doubt the most brutal album ever made without a drumkit and guitar amp. The spontaneity brought the focus away from feats of musicianship, and sent it towards monstrous sounding riffs and great songs. The Berzerker would like to make the claim that 'World of Lies' has on it some of the best death metal songs heard in the last decade. This album encapsulates the best of 90s death metal - heavy, evil, sick guitars sitting sq! uarely in catchy, brutal songs with the trademark Berzerker kickdrum stomping all over the stereo, the songs, and your ears. This is the album the Berzerker has been waiting to make ever since they began.
2005/6 Berzerker 'World of Lies'. Heavier than before. No more masks. Face the music.