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The Crowning Jewel Of Behemoth’s Black Metal Era - 87%

OzzyApu, May 28th, 2009

With better production, an increased emphasis on melodically aggressive leads, and really no change to the drumming, we have the crowning jewel of Behemoth’s black metal days. Yes, not Sventevith…, not Grom, not that pile of horseshit called Endless Damnation - this often overlooked recording with a creepy, ethereal glimpse into some enchanted woods. Let this be the entry into some of the most gnarly black metal you’ll hear out of an EP.

I’m so impressed by the leads that I think Infernus from Gorgoroth shit himself so hard in awe that he was unable to write a decent follow-up to Pentagram. The riffs found here aren’t nearly as hateful as Infernus’, but they’re way more energetic, concert-worthy (yeah), have less of an emphasis on tremolo, and really are just more fun to hear. The whole band took on this thrash / black approach that works like a charm with the occult atmosphere that not only are you spellbound, but also in rush trying to bang your head without breaking your neck. The tracks that cater to this method more are “Transylvanian Forest,” “Sventevith (Storming Near The Baltic),” and “Pure Evil And Hate” (a concert staple, I might add).

The other two tracks are more atmospheric, haunting, and majestic in nature. They’re slower than the other three and focus more on a crushing melodic riff or tune. “Moonspell Rites,” which happens to (now) be in my top five favorite Behemoth tracks, is the best example and pretty much the best on the album. The tempo is devastating while the drumming maneuvers in a catchy pattern in support of the lead charge, which culminates in one of the most awe striking solo moments at 3:34 that gave me chills up my spine upon first listen. It made the best of Bathory solos look like something off of the fucking Disney channel. The last track works much in the same way, but relies more on a clean guitar tune that still sounds enthralling in its own unique way. Its more of a haunting, folk-driven ritual track that stands out much more as an outro than it’s own track.

Bass is almost non-existent on this album, but would you honestly give a shit when there’s so much atmosphere, energy, and effort to cover it up? Nergal himself really could care less, especially considering how much more refined his scream has become. He doesn’t pull off agonizing shrieks anymore like on the debut full-length, but his screams are pretty raspy and throaty, combining extremely well with the buzzy distortion of the guitars.

Usually I’m not fond of EPs because they show very little compared to full-lengths, but when you do come across one, it happens to you away more than some of the full-lengths. This EP somehow stands out to me as the definitive moment of Behemoth’s black metal days – that’s saying a lot considering what it has to compete with. You’d do yourself a huge favor by checking this recording out, and only a fool to pass it up.