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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.