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Following the release of Drawing Down the Moon, Nuclear Holocausto turned Beherit into a solo ambient project and released two albums that had very little to do with what the band had become known for, other than in spirit. After this, he seemed to fall off of the face of the earth for well over a decade. By late 2008, however, he was rejoined by Sodomatic Slaughter and a couple of fresh members as Beherit entered the studio once again. In April 2009, Spinefarm Records released the product of this unholy session, Engram.
"Axiome Heroine" starts with a mid-paced riff that is accompanied by keyboards. The atmosphere is dark and ritualistic, as the doom-laden riffs roll forward like rusted tanks that have just been reawakened. The first part of the song serves to lull the listener into a trance-like state, receptive to the wickedness soon to follow. Once the main riff emerges from the fog, it is clear that the beast known as Beherit has truly returned. The music possesses more of a pure black metal feeling, with the guitar taking on a colder and thinner tone, rather than the deep sound of Drawing Down the Moon. This raw sound is more in line with The Oath of Black Blood, in a sense. The song is rather short, as the fast guitars and blasting drums give way to the same mid-paced riff from the beginning.
The next song is "Destroyer of Thousand Worlds", which is classic Beherit; fast-paced riffs, barbaric drumming and demonic vocal delivery. This is reminiscent of "Dies Irae", by Bathory. This is interesting as it is an influence not so easily heard on the band's previous outings. The band gives off an intensity not heard in many years in this very straightforward track.
"All in Satan" is another high-speed song that passes by all-too-briefly. There is almost no variation, whatsoever, and yet it works so well within the context of the band's style and the overall album. There is a strange keyboard passage that reminds of the Halloween III score, slightly, and adds an eerie feeling to the song. As with the rest of the tracks, the drumming is very crisp and dry, being less prevalent in the mix and allowing the riffs to become the primary focus.
"Pagan Moon" starts with a very brief intro that features a sombre acoustic guitar and the sound of a raging fire. A mid-paced riff soon comes along, driving the song forward at a deliberate pace. The arrangement of the album is quite well thought-out, using this slower track to give a bit of a rest and to allow the dark message to slowly seep into the the now-exhausted mind of the listener. The funeral bells are a nice touch, adding a morbid feeling to the song. This continues as the music fades, along with the return of the flames.
Next up is "Pimeyden Henki", which is even darker than the previous songs. It begins at a slow pace, with woeful clean vocals and more of an emphasis on the sorrowful bass lines. This soon shifts to a faster tempo, as the tremolo riffs carve through the listener's soul and the occult vocal delivery evokes spirits of pure evil. Holocausto's voice is more raspy and this suits the music much better. Later in the song, the pace slows down again and a mournful choir rises from the depths of Hell. Once more, things shift back to the faster riffs which carry the song to its conclusion.
"Suck My Blood" is one of the more direct and unpretentious tracks, going straight for the kill. The fast tremolo riffs are quite memorable and there is a clear structure to the song. The vocals are nightmarishly evil, especially during the calm section in the middle, where all goes silent with the exception of the demonic voices and a subtle bit of synth. The main riff rushes forward, once more, hacking and slicing through all in its path. This is the sort of material that would not have sounded out of place on one of the band's earliest releases.
The closing track clocks in at over fifteen minutes, but seems like more of an extended outro than anything else. "Demon Advance" is much slower than the rest of the songs and utilizes some odd effect on the guitar which gives it an otherworldly feeling. After a while, the guitars fade away and leave only the synth, bass and drums, creating a strange atmosphere. The guitars take several minutes to return, and they never do play a very prominent role. This does not work so well as an individual song, but does better within the context of the album, as a whole.
Engram is surprisingly good and witnesses not only the rebirth of Beherit but also their return to black metal. Having become some obscure cult act from the past, influencing many of the more recent bands in the scene, it is only fitting that Nuclear Holocausto and his band mates have re-emerged to add to the coming darkness. This should certainly appeal to fans of The Oath of Black Blood and Drawing Down the Moon.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
Well, Finland really has some awesome metal stuff, and Beherit is indeed one of them, being a well-known black metal band and all. Though they have made three full-length albums prior this one, only their 1993 debut full-length plays black metal music. Well, now they're back to business with their recent effort, "Engram".
First of all, the production sounds raw, for this day and age, that is. This album has everything that I avoided listening to before, when it was my first time listening to metal: the emanating fury, the grim evil, and the minimalism, and black metal has all those. The album could be described as very traditional to the roots (like Mayhem's debut full-length for instance) but with more fury. The guitars and drums play typical black metal riffs and beats that makes awesome music when put together. The vocals, though, are nothing more than raspy whispers.
Both "Destroyer of Thousand Worlds" and "All Hail Satan" has incredible speed and minimalistic characteristics, with only 1-2 riffs played again and again. The bad side is that the two songs almost sound alike in every way. "Pagan Moon", though, is one heck of a trance, for a song anyway. The song really is different to the previous two songs primarily because of its slow tempo. "Suck My Blood", meanwhile has an eerie atmosphere throughout, still with the pummeling fury and of course, the minimalistic characteristics.
The thing is, this album is quite old-fashioned (though the music is good). The album wouldn't have sound to have a certain formula in it if they have incorporated some new elements in their music. Another thing is the last song, "Demon Advance", which frankly is a 15-minute snore fest, no offense (I fell asleep on the 4th minute). Sadly, this song is such a waste of time and to think that it is 15-minutes long! The song even has no highlight whatsoever, like a part filled with speed or fury or whatever. This will sure have a lot of skip counts, for sure.
Oh well, what could I say? The album has good songs (yes, even the intro, for its atmosphere), except for that 15-minute snore fest, which is, again, a waste of time. Well, the album sure is great, so it sure is a good listen for their fans, and also old school black metal fans. Enjoy!
Originally made for http://mystifymyserie.blogspot.com
Oh so many years worshipping long-gone days of Beherit and how utterly cult everything they did was. This band has achieved the status of legend within our circles, because, let’s face it they were a huge influence on what a lot of people did afterwards and Beherit did it first; the ultra-grim outlook, endless cult demos and side-projects an insane shift into techno (which BTW is great – if you’re a fan of electronica, I highly recommend it). And then their untimely demise. The truth of it was probably much more mundane – a bunch of guys just doing their music and departing the underground for parts elsewhere when the time inevitably comes to move on with one’s life. The rest of their history was rumour and hearsay. Have you heard the one where Holocausto was spotted somewhere in Queensland holidaying with his wife? That came about approximately the same time as the news that a new METAL Beherit album was about to be unleashed reached us here at Procession…
So here it finally is (cheers, Kim for taping it for me). Unfortunately I don’t have much time before this issue has to hit the Xerox machine, so this is a first-impressions type review.
We begin with a few simple tracks. Immediately I notice that whilst the guitar sound is filthully distorted, the production is extremely clean. There is no real attempt to re-create the grim production quality of 15 years prior. Fair enough, but this will disappoint some fans. The first few tracks are raw, simplistic numbers still very much in the Blasphemy style the band began with back in the day. The vocals are an evil hoarse whisper. What immediately stood out to me was the use of obscure synth sounds, to the point of something vaguely trance-like in track 3 “All in Satan”. This is very cool.
Following that is a short acoustic interlude and then a slower, plodding track “Pimeyden Henki”. This is where things get really interesting. Here I was sitting, thinking, “it’s all-right, but this is no Monotheist, more like the new Profanatica album (not great).” But hey finally it happens – the music gets very weird with strange voices and psychedelic guitar effects drifting horribly against a droning landscape. I think here Beherit achieve a sort of equilibrium between the raw BM of their early days and the satanic trance of their last techno albums. And the way they build up to it is extremely effective – gotta love a band with a healthy sense of showmanship. The man still got it. The last track “Demon Advance” is an absolute black horror mindfuck and for this reason I think Beherit successfully stage a comeback. Recommended.
Originally published in Procession of Black Doom zine #4
Oftentimes innovation can come through the deconstruction of an artist's constituents, stripped down and examined to produce a new whole. Engram is one such album, and Beherit are no strangers to change. The Oath of Black Blood was one of the filthiest black metal prototypes of its age (I personally can't stand it), but the band evolved through Drawing Down the Moon into their ritual electro noise phase for H418ov21.C and Electric Doom Synthesis.
Engram is a return to the roots, as it is essentially a pure black metal release. Yet there is something left of center here. The songs are extremely repetitious, moreso even than the majority of black metal. This should be a turnoff, yet somehow the Finns make it work, i.e. the filthy philandering of "All in Satan" and "Suck My Blood". Not all the tracks follow the same pattern. "Demon Advance", the album's closer, is a sludge/doom piece with some trippy flange and black/death grunts in unison. "Pimeyden Henki" features chanting over driving melodic angst before it turns black. "Axiom Heroine" features some folkish keyboards over its driving mid paced rhythms.
The album sounds filthy and vibrant, the guitars perfectly distorted to mesmerize the listener through these very simple riff patterns. The vocals are full throated and harsh, just as evil as the band's 1991 debut. The monotonous feel to many of these songs is likely to turn off a listener who is interested in more adventurous black metal hooks, but if you're into the bare bones of the style, Beherit delivers a decent re-integration of its former self.
Part 2 of my review of recent notable BM releases is the most legendary of the three, Finland's Beherit. "Engram" symbolises their first 'metal' release since 1993's "Drawing Down the Moon", and first album of any kind since 1995's "Electric Doom Synthesis", the second of two electro/dark ambient albums mainman Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance (NHV) attempted, to mixed results. In the intervening years, the Beherit name has built up a sizable reputation on the bestial, grim and downright morbid releases of "The Oath of Black Blood" (1991) and said "Drawing Down the Moon", putting this new release high up on the list of anticipated albums for every kvlt black metaller the world over.
Let's get one thing straight: I myself simply cannot see what the fuss is about over "Drawing Down the Moon" - yes it's as filthy as Satan's underpants and sounds like it was recorded on his answering machine but underneath all the barbaric pretences, it does very little for me. Infact I much preferred Reverend Bizarre's cover of "The Gate of Nanna" on their split with Electric Wizard last year, but with forum speculation at fever pitch I just couldn't turn down "Engram" when it was offered to us.
And you're going to hate me for this if you were hoping for a slagging off of another unsophisticated BM album, but I'm belatedly beginning to see what the fuss was about over this institution of the most sordid take on BM, because I actually like it. Infact, you could even say I love it, but that would sound a tad soppy. "Engram" gets moving with a chainsaw guitar sound accompanied by a quaint electronic synthy backing before the accelerator is pressed and pure musical carnage is unleashed. Reeking of early Bathory and my experiences with the kvlter-than-thou Von, the next 10 minutes through the remainder of "Axiom Heroine", "Destroyer Of Thousand Worlds" and "All In Satan" pound away incessantly in a manner as scathing towards anything resembling normal song structuring I've heard since Darkthrone's "Transylvanian Hunger". The number of riffs could be counted on one hand and as Sodomatic Slaughter pounds the hell out of his drums, NHV's crackled howl should be enough to drive all but the most extreme metalheads out of the park. The effect is magnificence in pure blasphemic worship.
The arrival of "Pagan Moon" sees a touch more atmosphere and considerable more groove introduced, scoring points where others would have continued in the same unaltered hammering for the album's remainder and frankly boring everyone to death. But in Beherit's knowledge of how to keep proceeding's moving forward is their key to the grandaddy role of blasphemous bestial BM. The 15 minute "Demon Advance" is the album's closer, much more a walk than a sprint with hypnotic, spacey atmospheres as key as the primeval arrogance that keeps the same monotonous pace for the first thirteen minutes, feeling as it does like a shot of morphine in the leg to calm you down after the spasmodic brutality found earlier in proceedings.
The simple, repeated hammering of passages here could draw comparisons to the Wolves In The Throne Room review, but in the mood of drug-addled other worldliness that Beherit reside in, they feel miles from the state of dark, ethereal beauty in "Black Cascade", and this is what makes my appreciation of "Engram" almost a shameful secret. In conclusion I would have to say better than the 'classic' "Drawing Down The Moon"; Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance and his troops are definitely back in business.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net
There is a lesson to be learned when looking at the history of Beherit, and that is that if enough people hate you then, in time, you will be adored for it. Not only would most people in mainstream society refuse to touch them with a 100 ft. pole during the early 1990s, but they were all but universally despised by their fellow Scandinavian brethren. They essentially brought the old party hard, sex, drugs and rock and roll lifestyle to a scene that was becoming pretty heavily in love with itself, and made their fair share of enemies in the process. Many who now claim to love their old work likely do more so because of its association with black metal antiquity than for an actual appreciation for its aesthetic nature and the uniqueness of its outlook within the genre‘s paradigm.
After having been silent in the studio for 14 years, or 16 if you go by their black metal releases, expectations are naturally either unrealistically high or low. But regardless of the hopes in any individual anticipating its release, most were expecting that “Engram” would be a continuation of earlier works. Although expectations are largely unavoidable, they do tend to have a detrimental effect on the listening experience, especially if they don’t make room for the possibility of a very good, yet by the numbers album. That’s essentially how this album can be described to anyone who is really familiar with the style and its history, a standard, full frontal assault on the ears in the manner that you’d get from an early Gorgoroth album. “Antichrist” is one album that particularly comes to mind when considering some of the thrashing riffs that populate this album, albeit the production of “Engram” is much heavier on the bottom end, a bit less fuzzy, and there are several ambient keyboard sections spread out upon a few of these songs.
Vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Nuclear Holocausto lays out the intention of the album with a singular declaration of hatred for the world, spoken in a plain, dry voice no less. What follows is a rekindled fury of noise driven guitars, at first with the fuzz on full display and a free flowing, synthesized oboe melody to mess with the ears. Once it gets going, this noise driven overture “Axiom Heroine” takes the aggressive minimalist route, punching out a pair of repetitive, crushing riffs over a controlled blast beat. “Destroyer Of Thousand Worlds” and “All In Satan” take a straight line approach, but with an occasional keyboard backdrop, and just blast all the way through relentlessly, keeping it short and to the point. “Suck My Blood” goes into a bit of a death/thrash direction, particularly with the guttural vocal inflections, and comes off almost like a black metal answer to “Seven Churches”.
The rest of the album definitely takes care to remember that Beherit became a unique beast by dabbling in ambient oddities from time to time, and uses a greater degree of effects to accent what is a more doom oriented take on this art form. “Pagan Moon” and “Demon Advance” both take things a good bit slower and actually elevate the drums to a point of being extremely prominent in the mix. The riffs are a little bit more melodic than the droning Sabbath inspired riffs on “Drawing Down The Moon”, but they utilize the same repetitive effect to bring out the vocals. Much of the vocal work dabbles in clean singing, in the form of low baritone chants that one might here at a dark meditation session. “Pimeyden Henki” gets really heavy on the atmosphere and almost listens like a cross between some off of “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss” and “In The Nightside Eclipse”.
The charm of this release is that it doesn’t attempt to rely solely on the atmospheric and doom aesthetics of “Drawing Down The Moon” or try to exclusively cater to the low fidelity fuzz addicted crowd who endlessly praise “The Oath Of Black Blood”. It shows a much more measured approach to incorporating the band’s old quirks into the blackened template, coming out with something that is probably more accessible to modern fans of the genre, but still firmly in league with the older form of evil that lurked in the shadow of the 90s. The production is somewhat clean compared to older efforts, though far from the over-processed character of many recent extreme bands, and successfully walks a tightrope between been too dry sounding and too loaded with atmospheric effects. The vocals still maintain the louder, narrative character that was on full display on early works, but what is going on around it sounds a bit less distant. It’s an album that seems to revise more than it does expand out into new territory, but it loses nothing in the quality department.
Although this will probably enjoy a wider audience than the band’s earlier material did, the same brands of praise and derision will likely remain. Holocausto has essentially told everyone listening, in spite of his adventures into other forms of music, that he has no intention of attempting to turn Beherit into some sort of progressive outfit for new ideas, and why not? I’ve personally been of the opinion that you don’t fuck with what works, and there’s none of that to be found here. There will naturally be those who will can this as being either generic or throw in some fancy subjective analogy to it being generic such as empty or passionless, but those types are basically impossible to please, so the best approach is not to try. It’s not quite “Drawing Down The Moon”, but for this year it’s definitely in the upper echelon.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on August 16, 2009.
You'd think a decade and a half away from the black metal scene would keep a band from catching the blight that has infected the genre in that space of time, especially a formerly fantastic, revolutionary one - not so, Beherit. The band responsible for such brilliance as Drawing Down The Moon and The Oath Of Black Blood, Beherit has never been short on innovation in their remarkably short-lived career as a black metal band, and managed to attain something close to legendary status in that middle-ground scene of black metal acts that fall somewhere between "bedroom" and "multimillion dollar studio" recordings. Even with their widely-scorned ambient/electronic releases, "uninspired" and "unoriginal" could never be applied to this band. Then came Engram...
There really isn't much to be said about this album - it is impressively lacking in substance and variation, so describing it very well is a bit of a challenge. To sum Engram up in a few words, "monotonous", "repetitive", "boring", and "formulaic" offer more than enough description, and cover quite literally every aspect of the recording.
While it begins well enough with a (rather typical) short, angsty, spoken-word intro - complete with obnoxious, somewhat-mandatory Finnish accent - followed by some powerful (and fuzzy!) riffage, things quickly take a turn for the worse no less than two minutes into the first track, "Axiom Heroine", as the stage is hastily set for the rest of the album. Anyone who's ever heard any thrash prior to the turn of the millennium (think even farther back, to when the genre was still somewhat alive) will be hit immediately with a feeling of intense deja vu once Beherit turns the fuzz down at the aforementioned two-minute mark. Yes, you have heard these exact riffs before, albeit with a modicum less distortion. You have heard them time and time and time and time again. The more reasonable listener may shrug this off as simply a coincidence, or even an homage to the classic era of the late genre, and will (rightfully) expect original material to follow. NOT SO, BEHERIT. This feeling of deja vu will indeed fade - into one of revulsion - as these Finns continue to blindly plagiarize the most cliche, overused thrash riffs imaginable, for the duration of the album. Seriously, it just does not stop. The only hint of originality that the guitarwork on this album possesses is added by the (deliberate) fuzz of the recording, which serves to give it a slightly muted feel, rather than the gimmicky, intentional "raw" sound that has become so trendy within the scene over the past decade. In summary: If you've heard virtually anything by Bulldozer or Tankard, you've heard a much more listenable version of Engram.
Unfortunately, the guitars make up the bulk of this album. There's a shitload of utterly superfluous, tremolo-centric passages, where it's essentially just Nuclear Holocausto shutting up for 30-odd seconds at a time. Nothing else changes in the music - the same three notes continue to be repeated ad nauseam, he just stops droning. I can't stress that enough - the key problem with Engram isn't the overused riffs, but the fact that it's absolutely nothing but boring monotony. The thrash riffage doesn't even play that big of a part in the album - it's just the only variation there is, which is more than a little tragic. When they're not ripping off Whiplash (or Sabbath, in the case of the yawner "Pagan Moon"), Beherit is apparently trying to wow the listener with their ability to consistently play the same fucking chord without stopping. For the whole five-minute track! This is not an exaggeration, either - Engram really is that disgustingly repetitive, without exception. The most variation you'll get in a track is the occasional shitty "creepy" or "evil" sample thrown in at the beginning or end for no real reason.
Beherit feels that endless repetition is not just for guitarists, though - oh no; they believe that everyone has the right - and must exercise it - to be equally monotonous. I'm not even going to mention the drums because they're so negligible, but there's nothing of any interest there except mindless blastbeats and a boring, fuzzed-out, constant tick tick tick tick tick tick tick sound. Nuclear Holocausto's vocals are quite powerful, his voice not losing any of its strength during Beherit's 14-year hiatus, but sadly, he chooses not to make any use of this vocal longevity as he belts out the same few words ad nauseam for every single track. Sure, there's some random, unimportant growling in between the repetition, but it's overshadowed by the fact that most of every track is him screaming the same few things over and over. Possibly worse than that, though, is that said unimportant growling is nothing more than as-typical-as-possible norsecore bullshit. If you want to listen to Marduk or Impious Havoc, you're not going to be buy a Beherit album, unless you're a trendwhore of a truly impressive degree.
In a nutshell: Listen to the third track, "All In Satan". You've now heard basically the entirety of Engram. If you want to save even more time, just listen to 3:16-3:17 of that track - that's how long it takes Nuclear Holocausto to shout "ALL IN SATAN" once with the same droning guitars behind him, and that's essentially all that track is. The rest of the album is no different, just with different words in place of "all in Satan", and some minor rearrangement of the Sami Tenetz' fingers. There is also (supposedly) some bassist who joined the band in 2007, but after listening to Engram several times, I am convinced that this is simply a clever ruse on the part of Nuclear Holocausto to make it appear that he could put together a full band that was willing to drag Beherit's name back through the mud.
Recommended for low-functioning autistics and fans of Marduk. Fans of black metal and those with triple-digit IQs - steer clear.
Beherit return over 15 years after their seminal release Drawing Down The Moon. I must say I had my doubts over the band reforming, being as usually a band does not fair well after being away from a genre for over a decade. Beherit have not suffered. This album is one of the best I have heard from this genre in a long time, completely unexpected given the bands other output, and in general a breath of fresh air. The production alone pretty much allows this album to stand out from the thousands over other black metal releases we get thrown at us every year. Beherit are attributed with pushing and experimenting with the black metal sound, especially the album Drawing Down The Moon, considered a classic and cornerstone of the genre. Well this album has potential to follow Drawing Down The Moons path.
The album is based on repetitive and driving guitars bass and drums. This is the foundation for all other work, and the riffing is very good. The fact that the bass is mixed very high gives the string instruments a very low tone (down-tuned is very possible too) and the crushing guitars sound almost like out of a death metal album. I couldn't believe this was the same band that had thin trebly guitars on previous releases. Drums blast along monotonously, mostly cymbals are heard along with snare and kick a little bit lower in the mix. The riffing itself surprisingly suited for headbanging and incorporates slight touches of other metal genres such as thrash and death metal.
What I have described above would already make a satisfactory black metal album that could easily be one of the stand outs of the year. But Beherit add several nice enhancements to their sound to keep things interesting. The keyboard lines in Axiom Heroine give a unique atmosphere, more akin to earlier Beherit that featured more mysterious sounds and textures than this album usually produces. The chants in All In Satan are another atmospheric touch that is used sparsely, and hence has that much more effect when used. With Pagan Moon we see yet another side with a clean intro of around 1:30 minutes that yet again adds another dimension to this album.
Vocals also bring the best of the old and some new tricks. The haunting reverb of earlier works is gone, yet old staccato style can be heard on sons like Destroyer Of Thousand Worlds. Choir (probably keyboard layer along with cleans) in Pimeyden Henki is another turn the album takes to engage the listener. The bulk of the songs' is generally consistent throughout the album, yet standout moments really occur in every song and pack quite a punch, personally I found the choir vocals nothing short of brilliant.
This album proves that a scene which is stagnating (and which I gave up on) can still produce fresh new ideas, and still has areas to explore and perfect. The trend of shitty production and even shittier riffing arrangement is thrown out the door. The production here is fairly clean without losing any edge of aggression to cleanliness. The album almost reminds me of a Hangman's Hymn type record, every song has roots in metal but some incorporate beyond the genre barriers while staying true to the bands sound. Quite the come back from Beherit, look out for this album, it's a mandatory listen for metalheads in 2009.
Whoa guys calm down
I'm not a big fan of Beherit. I mean, I do enjoy their first two full lengths (and have yet to listen to the electronic ones) and acknowledge their importance and weight in the history of black metal even though I don't consider albums like Drawing Down The Moon to be as groundbreaking (but I do consider it to be very unique) as most people, who seem to rise it to the level of immensely influential and a must-have. That said, I was considerably excited when I heard they were back and with a new album in the making, and awaited anxiously to give it a listen. I was in no way disappointed by what greeted me, but in the end this is not even close to being as groundbreaking and unique as people seem to feel, given the fact that the very same day it came out, three or four reviews were already done and posted, and all of them described the album as revolutionary and amazing (but I'm willing to blame that on the OMFG IT'S BEHERIT I MUST REVIEW IT FIRST phenomenon).
This album presents a different (yet again) phase for Beherit, completely new and far away from their previous efforts. Considerably superior, too, except maybe for the fact that the feeling of complete darkness that was so strongly present on past efforts seems to be completely gone now. The thing is, this album, the (in comparison) complex melodies, the clean production, the overall modern feeling and improvement of this band's music could have been immensely groundbreaking, fresh and influential... ten years ago.
The main core of the album's music retains all of what the most noticeable characteristic of the old Beherit were, sans vocals, which are considerably different. Most notably they're mixed lower and more distant, and are more raspy and less guttural. The guitars have a quite top-notch, heavy distortion and the music is overall very bass-driven, the melodies are quite simple, straight forward and violent, as Beherit was meant to be. Though that becomes a problem when you notice all songs actually sound very alike, and follow more or less the same lines, with only changes in melody and pace telling one song from the other.
There's a problem with bands that release ground-breaking or at least highly relevant releases and wait a decade and a half to release anything new, and that is, they get behind on the race, and bring something to the table they should have brought years before. This is the case with this album. This is one perfect album, for the year 1999. Not for the year 2009, when albums with music similar to this one are already considered old. Maybe it's just me, since I'm always on the watch for new acts, originality and uniqueness, but this album seriously sounds like something that was released ten years ago, which is a shame, Beherit had the chance to release an album worthy of letting them keep their name and fame, and they only sort-of failed to deliver.
The sound itself is very end-of-the-90's, reminding me of bands like Cathedral (The Carnival Bizarre and on), and even, at times, has the same heavy-rockish feeling. Vocals are probably the most improved part of this band, since they are varied and entertaining, and mixed at a decent volume (at times, the vocals on older releases became unbearably high, forcing me to turn the volume down and thus losing the rest of the music's impulse). There's plenty of sound effects, but that's no surprise when it comes to Beherit. Also it's no surprise that the album is filled with doom-ish moments. As a last pointer, they could completely lose that weird and halfassed keyboard that can be heard in the first song, and they would do Aok.
All in all this is a great album, but came into play a decade too late. Don't get me wrong, this album is good even for today's standards, and any fan of Beherit will love it, and even people who don't care much about their past will most likely like it too. But if you were hoping Beherit were back to shake the scene like they did back in 1991-1993, you'll be either too amazed by the fact they're still making music to notice, or highly disappointed. Still worth a listen.
Originally written for the paper version of the Terror Cult Zine
The very beginning Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance (?) murmurs those words before the first track 'Axiom Heroine' kicks in. It's practically an intro for 2 minutes until the growl of NHV reminds of us 'Salomon's Gate' once again. A great way to start an album. Beherit are back and back to their old satanic sound from 'Drawing Down The Moon' and 'The Oath Of Black Blood'. But this album is much more like 'Drawing Down The Moon' with a touch of 'Electric Doom Synthesis' for added effect.
Upon listening to 'Engram' I feel like THIS is the natural successor to the aforementioned 'DDTM', it follows a more obvious progression than the rather large departure of 'H418ov21.C' when that made one question if it was still the same band or a nasty prank on the fans. Well, happily this album will satiate any fan of Beherit who was eagerly awaiting a return to old form of the early 90's phase.
When I found out that along with Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance we also had the return of long time drummer Sodomatic Slaughter I was very pleased. Not because I like his style, but because we won't have to hear a drum machine/programming again. In a way it's the first time Beherit are a "band" again since 1993. A massive return to roots and form. For one thing NHV's voice hasn't changed one iota since their last recording. His guitar style remains intact. I don't know whether to be relieved or ecstatic.
The second track 'Destroyer Of Thousand Worlds' is classic Beherit style with NHV's nasty snarly voice with his grunts mixed in ala "Oath Of Black Blood". But the production is cleaner (Oath Of Black Blood), less sloppy sounding, and the instrumention is very tight. The track 'All In Satan' is once again in the same vein as the prior track, very fast, raw (but not in an underproduced way) and one of the most feral tracks on the Beherit song catalogue.
'Pagan Moon' showcases the 'updated' sound from Beherit with an acoustic guitar playing in the beginning with the sound of rain falling in the background. Then the guitar comes in around the minute mark and builds in aggressiveness as it goes, you'll even hear "pagan or folk-like" chanting midway through the track. It's possibly the closest Beherit will ever get to sounding like "viking-like". It's a good track to get a different feel from them and the overall direction of the album halfway through it.
'Pimeyden Henki' fully embraces the pagan or folk sound that was demonstrated just before it. In a way it is true when people say that it reminds them of 'Hvis Lyset Tar Oss' from Burzum (maybe even Blood Fire Death from Bathory). There are similaries when it comes to a couple of tracks with the "epic" and pagan feel. But make no mistake, Beherit don't drift too far from the black metal path to make you think they're changing genres. They stick to their roots, but occasionally throw in different influences to vary their sound enough to differentiate from past releases. Beherit have never been a derivative band or one to simply cash in on their history or their name. This album follows that pattern faithfully.
The last song 'Demon Advance' clocking in at 15 minutes is probably their most "epic" and monumental track ever with different variations to it that make you think it's 3-4 tracks merged into one. It really is their most progressive track ever made by them, and that's saying something after listening to 'Electric Doom Synthesis'. This track along with 'Suck My Blood' are possibly the ones where you really notice the "new" Beherit sound of today. It really is a pleasure to hear them again and I can't praise this album enough really.
It's been 14 years since we've heard anything from them and after hearing 'Engram' they sound like a band that never lost a step or much less a recently reunited band making a comeback. Engram is a truly memorable release by a memorable band. Finland's best is back. Welcome back boys, the world is better with you in it. I guess I'm ecstatic afterall!
It has come to pass that Beherit are now back together . At the time of their inception they were ridiculed and hated for being exactly what makes them such an amazing band . Their music truly had a one of a kind sound that is often now praised and hailed and let's be realistic here, it should be . It almost seems that all is right with the scene as their return has left many a moon worshiping, goat sacrificing, nocturnal dwelling metal maniac with hopes of something great to come . Abandoning even the slightest hint of anything being polished for the masses of metal head wannabees and scene draining leeches Beherit's Engram is the ultimate weapon against all who would dare try to dethrone what many of us have known since 1990 and that is that Beherit are the fucking kings .
After a way too long hiatus of over a decade, upon hearing that Beherit's return was absolutely eminent and not just a rumor started by someone that claimed to be Marko Laiho's long lost twin brother I personally spent many restless nights thinking about what their new album would sound like . Would it be like the Messe Des Morts, with it's raw insane psychotic feel . Could they possibly match the beautiful coldness of the epic Drawing Down the Moon album ? Lastly I hoped with every ounce of my blackened soul that if none of these elements would come to pass that at least it wouldn't be a lame attempt at a comeback . There have been countless bands that have crushed all of my hopes and my opinions of them by doing the unthinkable "let's show the metal community how it's really done lame ass comeback album" . Fortunately for us (and me) the mighty Beherit is not one of them .
This album "Engram", as with all of Beherit's releases doesn't sound like anything they offered previously . This album is one hell of a comeback . The opening riff of the album contains that slow repetitive droning feel that no band but Beherit could perfectly execute . It had me immediately screaming for more as I eagerly soaked in the true evil ambiance of it all . Marko's vocal seemed a bit low in the mix until I realized that the track , while being a great song is after all the opener and Beherit are the kings of the intro . The sound is at first quite a bit cleaner than all previous efforts from this band, but do not let that discourage you as it is still a great sound . The droning synthesizer in it is high in the mix and adds a ritualistic vibe which immediately grew on me .
The guitar on Engram also seems a bit more polished . The riff's are catchy and are still raw but contain a sound that once again are unlike anything previously released by this band . They are quite reminiscent of many other early thrashier bands in the scene . The evilness of it all is still there and while the faster sections of the songs contain that exact feeling the slower parts bring the listener back to more familiar Beherit ground . The songs "Suck My Blood" and the already epic fifteen minute "Demon Advance" have that droning unparalleled vibe to them that truly makes them standout songs on Engram .
Marko's vocals are sick as hell and after all these long years haven't lost the gritty heavily accented evilness that they have always contained . They once again are completely different yet fit in extremely well on this album . His vocal deliverance contains all that earlier hatred and darkness yet has totally evolved into something completely unique on this . On the track "Pagan Moon" he almost sounds like Nocturno Culto from the mighty Darkthrone . Speaking of Pagan Moon this one track contains the only part of the album I find to be rather childish which is the voice that repeats the chorus of "Pagan Moon" throughout the song . It just seems a bit too overdone and deep to properly fit in but it might grow on me or you if you feel the same way . At the time of this writing though it hasn't .
The drumming is very well done and keeps that skull pounding maniacal feeling this album reeks of flowing nicely . The bass guitar seems to be recorded a little low in the mix but it doesn't take anything away from the album because when it is necessary to be heard it effortlessly flows and accentuates this simply brutal sounding album . For the most part the song structures don't really call for an overly bottom heavy sound but when they get there they are just that .
Beherit for me as with all bands I have absolutely worshiped since the early days of the scene have never let me down one bit and their triumphant return with Engram doesn't either . So dim your lights and light your candles or better yet wait for nightfall and worship this album under a full pagan moon because Beherit are back with another masterpiece of blackness and evil . Let the Demons Advance.............Own This....................................
After a decade of absence, Beherit returns to a world where black metal is plentiful and yet has failed to distinguish itself. Instead of trying like others to lump big ideas onto black metal, with "Engram" Beherit adopts a different approach: break down the big idea into a collaboration of many small ones, and create an ambient form of metal in the style of Burzum's "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss."
While most black metal albums are cut from an archetype, "Engram" is an oddball using black metal (with dubstep influences) as the language for it to express its darkened catacombs of mood. Using fast and really basic riffs in the style of "The Oath of Black Blood" more than "Drawing Down the Moon," these songs define themselves as basic rhythms with infectious hooks and then layer on top of those small changes in tone, vocals, riff rhythm and sometimes, electronic sounds including keyboards. The result seems sparse but has a density that uncurls as the listener scrolls through the listening experience.
The use of repeated acoustic motifs as a layer to a backgrounded resonant riff (on "Axiom Heroine") is reminiscent of the introductory passages on Burzum's "Hlidskjalf," but in the songs themselves influences appear from Darkthrone, Bathory, Sarcofago, and even earlier Beherit albums. This approach is like that of a sorcerer creating a codex of spells, referencing all that the initiate has learned in order to make a cohesive vision of the whole discipline, at which point he can unleash some radical thoughts about how to transform it.
Much like Slayer's "Reign in Blood," this album sandwiches a variety of songs between starting and ending pieces of great power. The introductory song "Axiom Heroine" is complemented by the concluding song "Demon Advance," a doomy dirge enwrapped in vocals and electronic noises as well as hand instruments. In the middle, "Pagan Moon" encodes references to the melodic fragments used in other songs and unifies the approach of the album. But for the most part what Beherit delivers as the meat of this sandwich are simple but elegantly self-evident songs to get your blood pumping.
Beherit did not invent metal, and were scorned for much of their career, but drew attention to their quirky and insightful music through the mystical knotting into of life which it projected through its varied metaphors of evil and light. Mid-career, the band began to explore ambient music as did many other black metal artists. Now with their return, they build upon an ambient black metal base with the type of details found in electronic music like Tangerine Dream and in doing so, continue black metal with a new chapter and a new space in which others may create.
I guess I'm one of the people who just stumbled across this album, without hearing any news about it. I knew there were rumours about Beherit reforming lately but I didn't really believe that Laiho would return to any style of old.
Then, all of a sudden, I saw this album listed here on our beloved archives. It looked legit to me and that's why I downloaded "Engram" shortly afterwards.
Looking back, I didn't like "The Oath of Black Blood" at all. I thought it was quite a mess, loosely held together by an evil atmosphere and dirty riffs. But apart from those factors, I felt it was extremely sloppy, incomplete and without any merit in the songwriting department. Those weren't songs, just a mere collection of riffs.
"Drawing Down the Moon" was a huge step forward. With the addition of dark ambient elements and doomish parts, it managed to create a massive atmosphere of fear and anguish, rarely seen before in any genre.
Considering that Laiho turned his back on metal a long time ago, what should I have expected from a new Beherit release? I really don't know. I think I have rarely listened to a new album with less prejudices and explicit expectations before. One could say I started into this album with an open mind.
The album starts off with "Axiom Heroine", introducing itself with a riff that could easily fit on Bathory's "Blood, Fire Death". The production is pretty good, especially for a Beherit release; there's rarely any clipping present and the thick rifffs cut through well enough. Laiho's vocals seem to be less prominent than before, but his recognizable thick accent is still as recognizable as it's been in the early times.
While I was still a little confused by the rather strong Bathory worship, "Destroyer of Thousand Worlds" started with a riff quite similar to "Werewolf, Semen & Blood" from DDtM. Beherit fans rejoice! The song is fast from beginning to end and filled with evil vocal passages reminding, again, of the early times of the band.
Don't get me wrong though; while there are similarities to the band's earlier works, a lot of old elements missing and even more new ones showing up. There aren't nearly as many ritualistic ambient passages here than on DDtM and when they finally appear, they don't possess the same claustrophic feeling they had earlier. That's a major downer if you ask me, since I still think that "Summerlands", in all its simplicity, is the best song this band has ever created. Also, the band often sounds as if they took the formula of "The Oath..." but with increased proficiency on their instruments and a thrashy edge - meaning that "Engram" is a lot faster than DDtM without turning into an incoherent mess like the former release did - a definite plus in my book.
The Bathory influence I mentioned can be heard in many of the new compositions, especially in songs like the aforementioned "Axiom Heroine", "Pagan Moon" and the rather epic (yes, indeed!), Hammerheart-esque "Pimeyden Henki". I guess most people (including me) will like this change as it sounds as if Laiho took the best elements of Quorthon's mid-era and mixed them into a more classic Beherit-clothing.
As I said, I'm very frustrated about the lack of ambient passages. Many parts of what made DDtM so special are missing, making "Engram" more of a one-dimensional affair. If you like the more aggressive side of Beherit this is definitely a strong return coming from Laiho & Co, but for those who wanted a continuation of DDtM, be careful with your expectations.
Complaints aside, "Engram" is a surprise in a world full of half-assed comebacks and cash-grabs, as it manages to sound fresh and vital without exploring more obscure ways.