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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”.