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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