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Finland's Beherit is often considered quintessential listening in the black metal genre, with their "classic" album "Drawing Down the Moon". This album was released in 1993, which was during a time period of vast creative success for black metal. Sure, a lot of bands were releasing quality material, but Beherit was not one of them. This album sucks in terms of production AND music, and while it does have a few moments that sound kind of cool, it is overall a shit sandwich.
First off, this doesn't really sound like a black metal album. Actually, it sounds more like a watered-down death metal release. The guitars are tuned extremely low (at least the shitty production makes them sound that way) and the drums, as well as the vocals, follow a much more death metal formula than anything else. There are also moments of doom metal due to the pace of the music. There are actually some riffs here and there that sound pretty damn cool, but the production really drags them down. This is not raw production that adds to the music and enhances the atmosphere either. It just makes the music sound like crap. The guitars are extremely muddy. This really detracts from any decent sounding riffs. Songs like "Nocturnal Evil" and "Black Arts" have some of the coolest, most evil sounding riffs, but damn, they are hard to listen to due to the negatively terrible production.
Blast beats? Eh. Not really. There really aren't any black metal sounding blast beats here. There are some fast-paced death metal drum lines, but that's as close as you are going to get here. The drums are fairly simple in nature and while this isn't really a bad thing, it just proves that this album would be better considered as a death metal release. I can't really point out any notable moments with the drums.
Vocal wise, this is probably the most death metal aspect of the album. We do not get high-pitched shrieks or rasps that we have come to expect with black metal. No, instead, we get deeper, more guttural sounding death metal growls. Even when there is a "hail Satan" thrown into the mix, it still sounds far more akin to death metal.
There are some cool riffs and the ambient piece "Nuclear Girl" is actually one of the best tracks here, to me anyway. But are there any black metal moments? Hardly at all. This is about 98% death metal and 2% black metal, with the only real black metal element being the Satanic lyrics. Hell, Satanism isn't even strictly limited to black metal. Just listen to Deicide! This is merely a watered-down 1990s death metal release that somehow has been identified as a classic black metal album, and that is totally beyond me.
1993 was arguably the greatest year in the history of black metal: Darkthrone’s Under a Funeral Moon, Enslaved’s Víkínglígr Veldí, Immortal’s Pure Holocaust, Burzum’s Det Som Engang Var… Beherit’s Drawing Down the Moon? Many have suggested that Beherit’s full length debut belongs on this list. How the album came to have such a reputation is a true mystery. The album fails at virtually every level, combining an exceptionally dull performance with poor songwriting and minimal aesthetic sensibility.
Drawing Down the Moon is typically described as a black metal album, and this is primarily a consequence of the Satanic lyrical themes. Musically, there is not much here that qualifies as black metal: no tremolo, blast beats or screeched vocals. At times this sounds a little like Celtic Frost circa To Mega Therion but by and large this is closer to death metal than black. The riffs are meaty and the vocals are guttural. Whatever the album is classified as, it fails.
The musicians are of a very low caliber. The riffs are all fairly similar: slow to mid tempo, primitive, vapid in melody or hooks and void of power. It sounds like there is only one guitar playing, which makes the riffs lack the force they are presumably aiming for. The percussion is no better. The patterns are plodding and monotonous. Thus, by default, the vocals are what stand out. Mr. Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance’s vocals are fairly standard guttural death growls, though they tend to be electronically modified and overproduced. There are also some really poor spoken word passages where Mr. Vengeance wails Satanic poetry in an effeminate tone.
The compositions are painfully simple and unimaginative. Though the songs are only 3-4 minutes apiece, the lack of variety or depth makes them feel much longer. Aesthetically, this album is pretty weak. While it does create a humid and dirty atmosphere, it doesn’t do so in a very powerful way. There are countless death metal bands that achieve the same aesthetic with much more force. A band like Incantation, for example, will literally make you feel as if you’re smothering to death in a filthy, inescapable chasm. In contrast, Drawing Down the Moon is more like being in a dirty apartment with the heater on. The trash hasn’t been taken out in weeks, the dishes are piled up and there’s a flea ridden dog sleeping on the couch. You’re not exactly itching to look in the fridge, but you’re not exactly scared or overwhelmed. Mostly you just feel like you’re wasting your time.
There are also some completely out of place ambient passages. These sound like the soundtrack to some movie about explorers hunting for a lost tribe in the Amazon. For example, “Summerland” consists of synthesized tribal drumming and pan flute over a bed of late night ambient noises. These passages are actually decent, but completely contrast with the hot, stuffy atmosphere of the metal tracks. Add incoherence and lack of vision to Beherit’s flaws.
A bad album by any standard, Drawing Down the Moon is totally undeserving of the hype it has received over the years. There are literally thousands of black and death metal albums that are better than this. Spend your time listening to something else and leave this one for the hype-mongers.
(Originally written for http://deinos-logos.blogspot.com/)
Perhaps because this album is low on the pyrotechnics and high on sonic subtlety, I've been slow to appreciate its value in the black metal canon. While other BM bands shred their guitars into sawdust and pummel their drums into crepes, Beherit opt for a mostly no-frills minimalism with a clean production that gives their music depth and a spacious quality. The singing is deep with just the right amount of echo to achieve the necessary sinister effect without submerging it completely; the music is riff-based and deep enough to straddle the border between black metal and death metal.
This is an album whose streamlined approach to BM suggests a controlled fury and hatred, a power that is cold, smooth and deep yet vile and reptilian. Elegance and efficency aren't qualities that spring to mind when talking about BM but this album is very elegant and efficient indeed with its deft touches, whether those are in the wise use of atmosphere and drama, the steely production, the occasional use of spoken voice or clean vocals or in the use of instruments other than guitars and drums.
As the songs are fairly short and, with the exception of "Summerlands", not very distinctive, the album is best heard as a whole epic rather than a collection of individual songs. This record set an early standard for Finnish BM to the extent that most Finnish bands in that genre are still judged on whether they're as good as Beherit were in 1993. The Beherit guys themselves must have felt they had done all they could with "Drawing down the Moon" as they later switched to dark ambient music territory.
Recorded in 1992 and released by Spinefarm Records in November 1993, Drawing Down the Moon is the first true studio album from the Finnish black metal band known as Beherit. Nuclear Holocausto's vision was finally realized, as the end result is much more refined than what was heard on The Oath of Black Blood, while still maintaining the evil and occult feeling.
The music is not what one may expect from a black metal album that was released in 1993. This sounds quite unique when compared to what was going on in Norway and Sweden. The guitar riffs, often, take on a secondary role and join the percussion and vocals to create a wall of sound. There are moments, such as the middle of "Salomon's Gate", where a mournful melody is utilized to drag the listener toward the infernal gates; however, in general, the guitars are heavier and more violent. The legacy of Sarcofago and Blasphemy remains a strong part of this music, yet Beherit has taken it even further. Nuclear Holocausto has managed to do what those bands could not and that is to still employ such a barbaric approach while also creating a truly dark and evil atmosphere. The fast-paced, chaotic parts are still there, but now accompanied by mid-paced riffs and even slight bits of synth, making the entire experience the equivalent of a Satanic ritual. That is really what this feels like, and the demonic vocals add to that as much as anything else. Holocausto uses different voices, going from the deeper growls to eerie whispers and distorted howls. Songs such as "Sadomatic Rites" and "Black Arts" feature the sort of open chords that Varg Vikernes often exploited for Burzum, though not in the same manner. In many ways, Beherit took what was hinted at with "Witchcraft" and expanded upon that, adding depth to the compositions. They added an element of doom to the already vicious and chaotic music and better enables the darkness to seep into the mind of the listener. Overall, the songs are much more structured and arranged, with each one really possessing its own identity and being easily identifiable from the rest. It sounds as if a lot more thought was put into the songwriting and there was a goal in mind, rather than giving in to spontaneity.
The quality of the sound is pretty clear and far better than the garage atmosphere that is found on The Oath of Black Blood. While the guitars do not stand out very much, it seems that this is exactly how the band wanted it, as it suits the music well. The guitar tone is very thick and kind of muddy. There is nothing icy or cold about this. Rather than slice through your flesh with razor-sharp guitar melodies, the riffs of Drawing Down the Moon bludgeon you into a state of near-unconsciousness. The production and the style of songwriting sounds more similar to death metal than to the black metal of the period, upon first listen. However, no Death Metal band ever sounded this evil or Satanic. The hellish vocals are at just the right place in the mix, rather than being buried or placed too high. Thankfully, the keyboards are kept at a subtle level, never intruding too much upon the rest.
Drawing Down the Moon is highly recommended for those seeking truly evil black metal. This is neither beautiful nor depressive. It is ugly, primitive and consumed with darkness. To get the full effect, one should listen to this with only the light of black candles and a cold breeze coming through the window. Remove all distractions and simply offer yourself to the malevolent spirits that this music conjures up.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
After black metal set it's roots into Norwegian soil, it became widely known as 'metal from Norway'. Of course, metal has a way of traveling, and in this case, some teenagers in Finland probably heard Bathory, Venom and Mayhem and said, "Hey, this shit ain't bad" and there you go. Beherit was born, and from them came Drawing Down the Moon, an apparently fantastic piece of Finnish black metal. Now, while most people call Beherit black metal (usually adding that they are the BEST black metal band from Finland), I don't consider them black metal. At least, they aren't 100% black, because there's no way you can listen to an album like Drawing Down the Moon and not be reminded of early Carcass stuff. I haven't heard the recent black metal album Beherit released, so I don't know if they continue with a Carcass-esque style but I can say that the loud bass, the guttural vocals, and the short songs remind me of death metal more than they do black metal. Not that that's a bad thing: Beherit defenitely do a good job at being unique, because, black metal or not, Drawing Down the Moon was not a very standard album for underground music.
There's a lot of things on this release that I sure wasn't expecting: slow, hypnotic, droning guitar passages, computer-altered vocals, and synth sections (Nuclear Girl is all synth). It's interesting, to say the least. Generally, this album is quite quiet, with a lot of whisper-growling going on (the song Black Arts is exactly what I'm talking about) and the instruments (apart from the drums) are rather quiet too. There are also some improvements from Beherit's debut, Oath of Black Blood. For one thing, this album isn't quite as messy. There are no songs on here like Metal of Death, and the band was going for a very different feel than the balls-to-the-wall brutal style of the previous album. There are also some nifty stand-alone guitar sequences, like the intro of The Gate of Nanna, and during the quiet section of Salomon's Gate.
There are also a few little interludes in the album, which I like. Apart from the campy intro to the album, I quite enjoy the sci-fi feeling to Nuclear Girl, and the bizarre feeling to Summerlands. They do add a lot to the album in terms of atmosphere and diversity, and prevent you from getting bored. They keep things interesting. The drumming during these interludes can be distracting, because the drums are rather high in the mix, (sometimes over-dominating the music), but they don't bother me all that much. It would be nice if I could hear more of the guitar though.
So, while I think that this is quite an overrated album, it defenitely isn't bad, either. It's really pretty unique from a lot of the stuff that was going on in the genre at the time, and yet there's familiarity with both the black and death metal genres, so listeners won't feel alienated by it. There are faults, like with the atmosphere. There are times when it works, but most of the time I just don't sink in to the spacy feeling the band was trying to present (although the album does end with a nice ominous outro). Another problem is that there are times here and there where I don't feel like much is going on. And while I stand by what it said about it being unique, there are times when I feel the band is slipping into Bathory's rut, using similar song structures and such. Favorite songs off this album are Salomon's Gate, the Gate of Nanna (that part in Gate of Nanna where the lyrics are 'Aaaah, the Saaaatan, Aaaah, the Luuuciferrr always makes me crack up), and Unholy Pagan Fire. These 3 songs stick out for me the most, with nice riffs, interesting vocals, and at no time do you feel like nothing is going on. A nifty little album, and despite its flaws, worth checking out.
Originally posted on spirit-of-metal.com under the username InfinityZero.
There is always a level of strangeness and eccentricity to any innovative album, but of all the releases to truly capture the spirit of black metal’s 2nd wave, this is by far the strangest. What is heard on here could be summed up as a sort of warped celebration of the occult through the medium of a hybrid of death/doom and black metal with some heavy ambient overtones. There could be a level comparison to the later pre-ambient works of Burzum, but the drastic contrast in vocal expression and melodic tendencies make that connection distant at best.
One could see this as a transition work between the purer, death influenced black metal that Beherit put forth on their earlier works and their later ambient albums, but this would downplay the greatness and significance of this album in itself. It’s one of those albums that are often misunderstood simply because there is no real precedent to measure it against. Whoever would account for a younger version of Hellhammer meets a much angrier and morose version of Tangerine Dream would probably be accused of belonging to splinter cult of Rastafarianism dedicated to worshiping the ganja in itself.
The greatest charm of this creepy opus is its utter simplicity. Any concept of flash, flair, or technical showmanship is absent, making way for an entirely riff based formula that emphasizes a dark atmosphere and a vocally distorted series of free verse narrations. Most of the guitar lines are further simplified than even the proto-Black works on the Bathory debut, to the point of resembling the primitiveness of early Black Sabbath. Combine with this a noise driven guitar sound that is comparable to what Electric Wizard would put out a couple years later, dense as hell vocal tracking and some off kilter keyboard sections and you have the makings of one strange as hell trip through Bacchus’ sub-conscious.
While not exactly the most accessible combination of elements, there is definitely a catchiness element to many of these songs. “Nocturnal Evil” goes through several passages of blasting, muddy chaos, but the riff that comes out when things calm down a little is heavily distinctive, containing a definite proto-Thrash vibe to it. Doom driven slower chapters like “Sadomatic Rites” and “The Gate Of Nanna” offer up the same memorable and highly repetitious riffs, but without the chaotic Death Metal sections surrounding them and a stronger vocal presence. The latter song really gives off a strong “Master Of Reality” vibe during its principle riffs, laying back in this gravely slow groove, steeped in a series of muttered heathen chants that are themselves drenched in odd vocal layering and effects.
The album consistently maintains this death/doom dichotomy of chaotic, muddy passages and slow, loose fitting 3-4 chord riffs through most of the album, switching up varying amounts of vocal oddities and production quirks with masterful precision. The winner in the aggression department is a sort of toss up between “Down There…” and “Saloman’s Gate”, both of which put forth ultra guttural vocal deliveries that rival the tyrannosaurus sound Nocturno Culto pulled off on “Soulside Journey”. Though the latter song throws in a series of slower atmospheric and melodic passages, while the former remains fast and chaotic the entire time and is much shorter. “Werewolf” also ratchets up the aggression, but has an ultra catchy intro riff and loads up on the echo vocal effects, sounding like a growling canine trapped in a cavern with its growls bouncing off its jagged walls.
The ambient parts of this album are kept down to a largely reserved level here in comparison to Burzum and are more often mixed in with the complete black metal songs, with a few notable exceptions. The most auspicious of these is “Summerlands”, which goes through this sort of aboriginal pan flute intro with a gong going every few seconds and the sounds of wildlife in the background. I’m not sure what got laced in with the ganja used during this composition session, but I want some so I can experience the metaphysical experience of going from the cold climate of Finland to the doorstep of an Incan temple. The album opener “Intro” is a little less out there and sounds pretty similar to the startup music to “Halloween 3” with dark incantations narrated through a microphone thrown on top.
If you like to experience the rare sensation of getting high on an album, without the need of any chemical additives, “Drawing Down The Moon” is about as close as you can get to the real thing. If you really want to creep yourself out, listen to it for the first time through a high end car stereo system while driving home at 3am the way I did. But in all seriousness, this is something that is utterly essential once you understand where it’s coming from. An acquired taste some may say, but those tastes tend to be the most treasured because they are shared with few people and earned through genuine effort.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on March 9, 2009.
If you are reading this you should have heard of this band . Most people write Beherit off as primitive noisy junk . The others have heard this perfection . Technically their first full length as The Oath of Black Blood was a bootleg put out by Turbo records to attempt to reclaim a contractual debt the band had , this is one every black and death metal fan should own . Here's why .
Starting off with a droning monotonous intro passage set to childish synthesizer , the listener is in for a wall of sound unlike any before ! Absolutely this is the only flaw with this album . Drawing Down the Moon has an immediately obvious unique sound . The vocals are almost whispered in a strange but fitting style that makes the punishing repetitive song structure of the first track Saloman's Gate all the more evil . There is a breakdown in the middle just after the choir like chanting that is simply brutal . Awesome !
The listener is then treated to a string of four more perfectly executed evil masterpieces . Nocturnal Evil , Sadomatic Rites , Black Arts and The Gate of Nanna all have that perfect heavy unbelievable guitar sound that is prevalent through out this entire album . Hypnotic trance like riffs down strummed and groovy . Caveman sounding drums with early primitive tribal beats pummel and punish you to the point of sheer surrender .
Next up is the first of two instrumentals perfectly placed on this amazing album . Nuclear Girl is a dark and foreboding warning that almost dares the occasional listener to go back where they came from if not strong of heart . Heavy synthesizer with an almost triumphant feel , it breaks up the suffocating grim feel of this record .
Unholy Pagan Fire and the song Down There are next up , and in continuing with the total feel of this body of work stay true to form . Evil , bouncy , blackened perfect songs belted out with sheer ferocity . A completely ancient sounding tribute to the past cult gods of old . Amazing !
The second instrumental Summerlands , is again perfectly placed here . Giving the listener yet another well earned , eerie almost grandiose break . Heavy pan flute is played over another droning synthesizer track as an almost primitive speech is recited . A gasp of well deserved air to almost allow you to make it through the end of this sheer master work .
My personal favorite part of the album , as in my mind it's broken up in three's ( the instrumental breaks dividing it up perfectly ) is the well earned end . Werewolf Semen and Blood , Thou Angel of the Gods and Lord of Shadows and Goldenwood are the last tracks on the album . This is my personal favorite part of the aforementioned "trilogy" of this record . You get pummeled at the end of this by uncompromising skull pounding riffs played at a frantic maniacal pace . Almost dizzying in their execution , they are the perfect end to a perfect , yes perfect album . My favorite song if i had to choose a favorite would be Thou Angel of the Gods . It doesn't matter thou because they are all perfectly executed masterpieces in their own right .
A classic album by an amazingly under appreciated band . Drawing Down the Moon is a well deserved tribute to the forgotten ancient pagan gods of old . A beautiful grim experience and certainly the highlight of Beherit's short lived amazing career ................... Own This !!!
There are many qualities on this album that I enjoy. The guitar strikes a maleficent tone, a stuffy atmosphere and there’s a feral approximation of thrash in most of the songs. This was a genuine boon of breath in satanic metal. If this was more recently recorded, I don’t think it would be as praised. That’s not a reason why I don’t regard it as highly; it’s only why I think it is overrated, which is fine. I don’t rate a work hinged on that observation alone. That being said, there are aspects I do find disappointing in Drawing Down the Moon that I just couldn’t let go of.
Allow me to start with the tiny intro. It’s a silly garbled passage that comes off as a piece of stale cheese. It by no means takes anything away and it’s so trivial but it doesn’t add anything either. When I first heard it, I wondered if I could take this album seriously. Fortunately, I found I could but not without pause. Many a marvel of originality aside from those such clichés were to be found later on, thankfully.
One thing I was not thankful of was the percussive mix in the recording. It sucks, plain and simple and even worse, annoying. The drumming itself is decent for the most part, but doesn’t have the sustainability to justify its dominant presence. It was like Beherit was trying to overemphasize an already gravel ambiance. Salomon’s Gate for example, has a cool Celtic Frost crunch but the hits on the toms are all that was left echoing from it in my memory. Nuclear Girl is another example. It’s a chilly electronic cut that caught my ear but as soon as the overbearing drum track kicked in I was disinterested.
The Gate of Nanna is a song that should be better than it is. It sounds like a dirge for the about to be awakened dead but once more so the lads in Lapland can hear it: Fade the fucking drums down!! The slow, hypnotic pace is rather nondescript and the vocals are rather chintzy but the sinister conclusion with that organ pretty much saves it. Speaking of which, I appreciate how tasteful and conservative Beherit employ keyboards on here. They are low and threadbare and provide the correct aural reinforcement.
This is an album that is best heard with the curtains drawn much less the moon. The opening sound on Black Arts is actually quite scary. Such this very part is where the record’s atmosphere really finds itself. The fuzz of the guitar creeps in like the stench of horrible death. I liked that the other songs were like this one but Werewolf Semen and Blood is probably the standout track. Strangely, the drum mix is perfect here on this very song. I would even say it’s one of the best parts about it. It reminded me of the blast beats heard in a lot of early death and goregrind and this song could be converted into one of those. It’s that close to it in the beats. I also liked how a lot of these fast songs were strongly bound by influence from a lot of Brazilian bands like Sarcofago and Holocausto. Summerlands opens with a tribal sounding wind instrument which also might be a nod to where those bands come from. The song is not all that great and the lyrics are nonsense but it's passable. Thou Angel of the Gods picks up the slack and recalls the sound of old Torture Squad demos. These early thrash odes are a nice touch.
Beherit wouldn’t have much of a career after this album and that’s a shame because Drawing Down the Moon shows a lot of promise but if it was to be their last, the band did leave some great songs on here. There’s a lot of fondness about this work and I understood why. Yet somehow it doesn’t quite stand out like it should though there are songs on it that do. I am tempted to say that it’s uneven but that is not the case. Certainly it’s not disjointed either. I would venture to say ‘unfinished’ would describe it better. Not in a rushed or sloppy way but more in a way as if the band had still more to follow in the next album. The metal that comes out of Finland isn’t very interesting but Beherit with their South American metal sound are a true exception. They are “Un-Finnish”.
Beherit was surely one of the greatest bands in black metal field in Finland. As you know, the end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s were very important for the naissance and the growth of death metal in that beautiful, cold country but the black metal explosion contaminated also the musicians, so here we have one of the very first black metal albums from Finland.
The roots were still in death metal but something has evolved. Let’s check it. The sounds are fuzzy, bestial and truly morbid while the vocals are mostly on the borderline between death and black with a strange tonality that is typical of the very first bands that wanted to play something new, going out from the death field. The production is not exceptional and it’s great like this because everything is made to be as brutal as possible with no melodic concession.
The drums are really essential in their sound and in the way they are played, while the vocals are higher in volumes and they cover a bit the instruments. Anyway, you can always hear the bleak, cold guitars and the bass lines. Sometimes, the vocals reminded me to one by another very important band in this field, but this time from Norway, Mortem. Here are, anyway, they are more comprehensible and a far less chaotic. Those by Mortem sounded like a broken sink.
The songs are generally quite fast but there are sudden breaks in the middle where the tempo is doomy and leaves the fast patterns. The bass is pounding in these parts, while the few keyboards sounds are ritualistic and truly scary. The atmosphere is horrific and truly cold, almost lifeless. It’s the case of “Salomon’s Gate” and “Nocturnal Evil”. The up tempo parts are quite raw but never too messy because the fast alternation of the beats on the snare and the bass drum is always well audible.
Sometimes the vocals turn in shrieky whispers from hell and they are quite various anyway, reminding a bit those by Attila in De Mysteries D.O.M. Sathanas. The compositions are never too long and that’s a great thing because a band like this must express the impact and the malevolence through short songs, without fillers. “Sodomatic Rites”, “Black Art” and “The Gate of Nanna” are three supreme examples of how a black metal band could be really scary and depressive through down tempo. They are perfect to break the speed.
The Hellhammer influences are always present in almost single riff or tempo but the malignance of “Unholy Pagan Fire” and “Down There” are personal and here to stay. We have no melody, just darkness and pure misanthropy. “Summer Lands” is incredibly frightening for the sound of birds and the flute notes, a thing that wouldn’t have been so scary in an another context, but here is so weird and occult. All in all, here we have a truly obscure and satanic album and an important piece of black metal history.
'Drawing Down the Moon' opens in a very promising way, but soon later this album stops to amaze you and stays at a solid level of black metal, not a bad one but not that impressing either. The drawback of this album is that it's maybe too long, this album could be better with eight songs instead of thirteen. There aren't much changes in the overall structures of the songs: slightly repetitive riffs which creating hypnotic rhythm and quite dark atmosphere, letting you to drown into a minimal void of darkness, but maybe for too long.
The riffing is mostly constant power chords strumming in fast tremolo picking or moderate dry tempo which gets some support by the fuzzy presence of the keyboards. The vocals are type of exhaled growl which lacks some aggression and presence, a more guttural type of growl could be very constructive for this album and increase more vibe within the dark void of this album.
Highlights: The intro which create a very dark atmosphere with artificial and extremely low pitched growl and some cold howls from the keyboards. 'Salomon's Gate' and 'Nocturnal Evil' which have quite intense blasting of primitive and raw riffing and 'The Gate of Nanna' which is slow paced and spreading some necessary grimness with it's quite hypnotic atmosphere.
Overall, this is a good album but it's not THAT great. It could be better if it was shorter and if the vocals wasn't that fragile. Worth hearing if you are looking for hypnotc and fuzzy album, just don't expect for any masterpiece.
There are many ways to achieve 'atmosphere' when it comes to playing metal in general and black metal in particular. And to each and every one of those who listen to this kind of music, it'll have a different meaning.
That said, it's hardly a surprise that Beherit's "Drawing Down the Moon" is an album that is both scorned and adored. In retrospective, I've heard it scorned mainly because of the lack of production, mediocre musicianship and, above else, because of being not standardized 'black metal' including the mandatory hoarse shrieking vocals and the high pitched guitarsound, as it became the norm since Darkthrone's "A Blaze In the Northern Sky" back in 1992.
Black metal was different back then. The genre was expanding and permitted different musical angles from which the philosophy behind the music was approached. Bands like Blasphemy, Impaled Nazarene, Mayhem and Beherit differered notably from each other sound-wise, while later on some sort of consensus was reached as to what black metal per se had to sound like: shrieking vox, fast rhythms, vacuumcleaner-sounding guitars, occultism, misanthropy and sometimes quite debatable political views.
From THAT retrospective, yes, "Drawing Down the Moon" doesn't necessarily satisfy the average black metal kid A.D. 2006.
On the other hand, those who adore this album (myself included) praise mainly its' ability to create an ominous and forboding atmosphere, while at the same time I'd like to add that to my knowledge, there isn't or wasn't a single band around that sounded like Beherit did.
In some respects, "Drawing Down the Moon" sounds more like a thrash or death metal band on heavy drugs. The songs are quite simple and musicianship is only so-so compared to a lot of other bands. But what Beherit lacked in musical stamina was also their forte. Just like on their demos it's raw, it has a distinct doomy feel ot it, it's primitive, it's occult and ultimately devoid of any sophistication whatsoever. This, combined with some killer-riffs and the diverse use of ambient sounds, makes a very strange blend indeed. Please note that I deliberately avoid the word 'keyboards' here because I get the impression that the ambient sounds are a lot more important compared with the average supporting role of keys. It gets into your mind.
What "Drawing Down the Moon" also sets apart from a lot of other 'black metal' releases is the use of electronically distorted 'whisperings', alternated with gutteral utterances which are (almost) death growls. No ordinary shrieks and screams. It's this use of alternative vocals that doesn't make this release 'standard agressive', but to a very high degree atmospheric. And this almost otherworldly atmosphere can really get to you.
All in all and from a comfortable 2006-view, "Drawing Down the Moon" is not just a prime example of atmospheric 'black' metal, but also highly original at that. And yes, just as it was in 1993. A real shame the band quit its' black metal existence soon after its' release.
Firstly let's get one thing straight. This album is NOT black metal this is dark ambient and a rather uninspiring attempt at that. Dark ambient is supposed to invoke a sense of dread in the listener, this doesn't. In fact it's quite tiresome because it’s just so boring.
My main complaint about this album is its sheer mediocrity and repetitiveness. You can bet your bottom dollar that the repetitiveness degrades the album pure and simple. All the songs are basically the same, an intro using some random instrument, such as tuba, then repeating the same riff over and over again for about 2-3 minutes and finally adding some really dark and evil synths at the end of the song. Yep that’s about it, don't let the excitement kill you. When I first got this album (judging from the scores this album got) I was expecting a really intense, evil sounding masterpiece. What I got was a slow, boring album that literally goes nowhere.
This album is very weird. Sometimes you wish the song had have gone on for longer because you think the song is going somewhere. However, come to think of it now, even if the song had of been 20 minutes long, I doubt it would have had more variety, judging from the formula of this album. Other times, you wish the song would hurry up and finish because it's so fucking boring and repetitive. Clearly, little effort was put into this album. There is no variety in repeating the same riff over and over again and then whacking a synth on at the end to make it seem like there is some.
Another weird thing about this album is the vocals. Harsh whispering mixed with deep demonic sounding vocals? Hate to say it, but the vocals blow, they aren't evil sounding and they sure as shit don't invoke any sense of dread in me. I mean, the way the vocals are delivered they DON'T even sound convincing. They just sound like these guys did it in order to conform to the black metal style and to make a quick buck. I might have actually enjoyed this album a bit more, had he bothered to done the vocals properly, i.e. loudly...
Another bad thing about this album is how poorly constructed the songs are. Literally, the intro with random instruments seems totally irrelevant to the song because as soon as the intros over, you never hear from that instrument again. Also the synths are just slapped on at the end of each song. Good synths should be weaved into songs, not just put on the end of the song to make it seem like you've got variety.
On the brighter side of things, the atmosphere is there and atmosphere can make a good album a great album. However by no means can it make a good album on its own.
I honestly do know how this could be called black metal, let alone a masterpiece. What we have here, is very dull dark ambient. Perhaps if these guys had of added more variety, speeded their songs up a bit and done the vocals properly, I might have actually liked this album. However this album seems rushed and very insincere. All in all, this is a very poor attempt at a black metal album. There is hardly any creativity or anything interesting on this album. If you want to hear how this album SHOULD have been done, download Carpathian Forest's song, Speechless. It's got a lot of variety, has the dark atmosphere this album's got, the songs are better constructed and finally the song's actually good/interesting.
In closing, if you've got a lot of time and a lot of money on your hands give this a listen, otherwise, forget it because quite frankly this album stinks.
From the first song we notice that the whole album is very minimalistic.The Intro is spoken with an unusual voice, which later on transforms from funny to scary. Later,the album continues down this road until there is no way back. Cult is almost touchable here.
"Drawing Down the Moon" takes us into the dark, trance, and occult world of possessed music filled with evil moments like the whispers; very surprising, and freezing the blood in our veins.
The lyrics are very strict and short, but that forces us to notice how evil were creators. Occult perversive themes about worshipping Satan clearly dominate the album. Riffs sometimes seem to be pure evil versions of Black Sabbath's old work "The Gate of Nanna". Notice, the pick scratches on strings at about 2:45, that's very powerful effect "Salomon's Gate”. After a couple of slower songs we are again kicked into the gates of hell. Schizophrenic picks, and an unnatural shattered tempo make a very unusual effect "Down There".
Vocals are some of the best I've ever heard, comparable even to Demoncy. Morever, Holocausto is almost as good as Atilla at "De Mysteriis.."or Nocturno Culto at "Panzerfaust" so it’s very high level then. With further listening you'll notice that despite a few faster moments, the music is mostly slow and raw. There are non-metal bits between songs like "Summerlands”, which depict Holy Paradise turned inside out. It's achieved thanks to their dark, ambient atmosphere, and possessed voice.
This album leaves a hole in your head every time you play it, you will never be cured. All in all “Drawing Down the Moon” is an unforgettable experience, you better try it and understand.
1993 was a big year for black metal, seeing such releases as Det Som en Gang Var by Burzum, Pure Holocaust by Immortal, and Dark Midievil Times by Satryicon. However, among theese more popular releases there is a very odd and amazingly original album, that album is Drawing Down the Moon by Beherit. This album was so far ahead of its time, little did theese three men from Finland know it would later attain legendary status.\par
At a time when black metal bands were only meddling lightly with ambience and electronics, Beherit pushed the envelope. The atmospheric ambience on this album contradicts the intense and simplistic guitar and drum work, making this album incredibly unique and quite the experience to listen to. This isnt really black metal like many people would imagine it to be, it is thick and bone crushing, surely inspired by the likes of Sarcofago, Von, and of course, Bathory. The line between death metal and black metal is a fine one on this release.
One thing which sets this album apart from other black metal releases of the time is the vocal effects. At a time where it was taboo to tamper with vocals, Beherit did just that. Adding distortion, reverb and god knows what other effects to the vocals. Beherit broke the mold. Another thing which stands out is the varation of the music. It can go from being very death metallish and chunky, to speedy chainsaw black metal guitars, all the way to tracks which are just pure ritualistic ambience. The beauty of this album is in the simplicity of it. Like their influences, Beherit create a very dark and ritualistic feel to the music with the monotony and repitition. The guitar riffs drone right into your head, while the relentless drumming transforms your brain into pudding. The more than subtle ambience only add to the incredible dark atmosphere. Its not easy to make such a minimalistic album which can be listened to repeatedly and not become boring.
Overall, front to back, this album is flawless. Beherit have always been about experimenting (no two official releases are the same) and they do just that. I rate it 100. If you are a fan of black metal, this album is essential.
Beherit has been a unique and quirky band throughout their carreer (moving from grinding black metal all the way to electronic ritual music) and this album is no exception. This is Beherit’s first full-length, though most people think that was The Oath of Black Blood, but that’s actually a bootleg.
This album is quite hard to describe because I have never heard anything like it. Two things are for sure, it’s Black Metal and it’s a lot slower than The Oath of Black Blood. Drawing Down the Moon is proably best described as ritual ambient black metal.
The songs are fairly short, with ass-kicking catchy, simple and almost thrashy guitarwork that reminds me of the better First Wave bands. The guitar tone is a bit weird (sounding somehow ‘wrong’), and slightly heavier than most black metal bands. The drumming is even simpler, even ridicilously so at times (The Gate of Nanna), mostly midpaced beats with some songs being faster or slower, and always in support of the guitars (Fenriz would be proud!). Obviously this isn’t music for fans of virtuosity.
The songwriting is very straight to the point but highly varied (from doomy and slow to fast and Death Metal-like) and never repetitive or directionless. In fact, the songwriting is quite remarkable and manages to keep you in the mood throughout the entire length of the CD.
Most songs are adorned with samples or synth to give them their own identity, giving these an ancient ritualistic feeling. The keyboard use is very minimalistic: minimum use, maximum impact. Immortal’s ‘As the Eternity Opens’ is a good reference point. Of the total of 13 tracks, 3 are non-metal ambient pieces: the ethereal intro Tireheb, the spacy sounding Nuclear Girl and the absolutely demented Summerlands which consists of bird sounds, ominous synth, an exotic flute (synth), simple percussion and spoken word parts and whispers. These add even more variation to the album.
However, what makes this album shine is the vocal performance. I dare say Vengeance Nuclear Holocausto’s voice is easily both the weirdest and the best in all of metal. His vocals are buried under effects which make him sound like some kind of gurgling beast. They vary from almost Death Metal in sound (Solomon’s Gate) to almost whispering (Sodomatic Rites) to savage and bestial (Werewolf, Semen and Blood) to spat out hatred (Thou Angel of the Gods). He also makes use of whispers and spoken words, the last of which are distorted to some kind of evil robot voice. The idea of robotic vocals turned me off at first, but they are used sparingly and add to the demented atmosphere this CD radiates.
The weird combination of sparse futuristic effects and ancient ritualistic sounding songs give this CD a very timeless and demented atmosphere that is very unexpected for music this devoid of subtlety. After many listens I realized that Drawing Down the Moon is not just an ass-kicking metal album but also an evil ambient album that will manage to entertain me for many years to come. Beherit’s uniqueness and creative talent is nearly unmatched, and this album, their high point, should be in every Black Metal fan’s collection.