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The first musical creation of Behexen shows some striking differences in comparison with the band's future releases. In this case, we have to deal with a 26 minute demo, consisting of an atmospheric intro, and four more tracks.
Keyboards are diffuse at the first two tracks, creating a cold mystic atmosphere, while they come around near the end of "Derision for Jesus". Their intense presence dawns on the listener already from the epic, combat intro of "The Queen of Blood & Lust". Actually, they are only missing from the title track, which seems to be the most vicious but also the weakest one, although this does not nullify the existence of some decent fast riffs. In the middle of the track though there is a flute melody, which adds an interesting folk element.
Guitar has a secondary role, since most of the time it just plays the rythm section and rarely comes to the front. Worth mentioning are the high pitched vocals, that sometimes seem to be spit out by witches of a foregone era. Also the bass is distinct and contributes a nice riff to the nostalgic melody of "The Land of the Troll".
The whole playing style and atmosphere refers to a grandiose, pagan and medieval musical approach, in contrast with the violent and straightforward sound that Behexen adopted afterwards. This is a work that deserves someone's attention, because it gives a better perception about the band's musical development, while it also stresses the undeniable songwriting talent that exists here.
Originally written for: The Lair of Storfeth
Eternal Realm is the first demo from this Finnish cult as Behexen (they released one demo under their previous name Lords of the Left Hand), and it's quite surprising if you're only familiar with their more savage, later full length offerings. There is a heavy use of keyboards on this demo to serve as both sweeping orchestration and a clarion herald of devastation, but it interacts well with the band's primitive riffing and creates a good atmosphere.
Whereas the band would later adopt a more strict, Satanic theme to their music, this early writing had a slant towards Norse lore, warfare and seduction. "Beyond the Dark Graves" is a synthesizer intro with some rather serious sounding tones, both ominous and majestic. "The Queen of Blood & Lust" uses the synth like a horn section on a plain of battle, and the riffs here are quite good in a post-Hellhammer, black thrashing sense. Torog's vocals are best at their fuller, dark range, though his voice occasionally cracks into a witch-like cackle. "The Land of the Troll" is nearly 8 minutes in length, an epic track inspired by the work of Bathory but with much more use of the keys. I enjoyed the breaks to acoustic and basslines, and this is honestly a worthwhile Viking metal tune. "Eternal Realm" also features some breaks to acoustics with flute accompaniment, but when its at its raunchy fastest it reminds me the most of the direction Behexen would later force with such albums as Rituale Satanum and By the Blessing of Satan. "Derision for Jesus" is once again epic, using the intoning of bells and churning of lethal pipe organs to drive it's slower rhythmic crawl, though the song picks up in pace later to become a bestial onslaught of lower splatter vox alongside Torog's natural snarl.
Eternal Realm is a demo, so of course it lacks some polish in the production department. But if you're already accustomed to the band's lo-fi, punishing albums, this deviates little from the norm, and frankly, it is the rough polish which gives the work much of its charm. This is really the only case where Behexen would use so much of an 'epic metal' influence to their writing, adopting a more abrasive, straight black style as early as the next demo, Blessed be the Darkness. But this made for a strong start, and a nice footnote, to a solid career.
The second demo of one the most respected Finnish Black Metal bands, Behexen, really holds only few resemblances to the material they record these days. I can hear a great influence from Satyricon in the riffs, which makes some parts of the demo quite folkish. As Behexen have left out the more folkish elements from their music nowadays, this demo, in my opinion, is not comparable to the more recent stuff, like By The Blessing Of Satan. Yet that is not a bad thing. Behexen is great nowadays, but this shows a different side to them. Eternal Real has lots of parts, where keyboards are used, but it does not dominate all the other instruments. As stated earlier, this demo is not comparable to the more recent material, but works in it's own way.