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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.