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Thunder it shall bring... - 95%

Hefeystossotsyefeh, August 18th, 2019

Behemoth have a now vast discography that spans a couple of genres, including hybridisations of. Given the attention that the albums subsequent to and including Demigod have received, it is quite easy to overlook their earlier black metal material, or simply never appreciate that Behemoth ever started this way (particularly the case for people newer to the band). That being said, the earlier catalogue of demos, extended plays, and full lengths provides a welcome variation (and change of pace, quite literally) from how Behemoth went on to develop, and there is undoubtedly an unrefined charm to the material that captures a Pagan essence that Graveland in particular initiated within at least Poland and presumably beyond.

Grom, the focus here, is Behemoth's second full length, and develops upon the sound of Sventevith. Gone in some part are the pure mid-tempo black metal hymns with acoustic interludes, which are replaced with a faster-paced series of tracks underpinned by blasts. Nonetheless, the overall aesthetic here remains as black metal (from the production and guitar work through to the vocal execution), despite the observable beginnings of what would be further expanded in Pandaemonic Incantations and what followed thereafter that was in some cases almost pure death metal. The guitars offer some great riffing, and the odd solo creeps in usually towards the end of the tracks to provide a lick of flair to the full length. In numerous parts (e.g. Lasy Pomorza, and the title track), acoustic guitars are pulled up to the front of the mix, which roots Grom into the black metal style, all the while driving home the Pagan foundation that coherently and authentically justifies the title of the full length (that translates to Thunder in English). Indeed, the material here is thunderous.

There is a curious inclusion of female vocals here and also some 'clean' chants by Nergal (e.g. Rising Proudly Towards the Sky, and the title track), which are certainly unpolished and afford a rustic element to the material. The production is welcoming of this end, by itself presenting a raw and dynamic sound that provides a logical scope to include these female and 'clean' vocals. The keys that open Dragon's Lair are also relevant, though in Grom are more residual than they were in Sventevith.

In all, the material on Grom is very competent. There is significant coherency with the aesthetic and the sound, which allows the music to breathe and come into its own to good effect whilst not ever appearing redundant. The female and clean vocals may be an undesirable element for some. Regardless, Grom takes the good elements of Sventevith and brings in new styles that makes it a logical forward step that regrettably wouldn't be further explored at least directly (asides from some calcitrant relics within the expended play Bewitching the Pomerania). Grom has aged well, and serves as the cornerstone of Behemoth's earlier stages of existence when black metal reigned within the heart and mind of Nergal.