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A work of art in atmospheric black metal - 90%

Retro Death Reviews, March 13th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1995, CD, Pagan Records

You have to admit, Behemoth has come a long way as a band. They went from pure black metal to blackened death metal.This is their debut album, their very first of the two black metal ones they released, before changing their sound entirely.

I have to admit, it's damn impressive to even hear the fact that Nergal was only 16 when this released. That's just ridiculous. All of the instrumentation is great. The drums are very well varied and placed. The guitars (if you can actually manage to hear it) have some pretty great riffs throughout the album. Most of the songs also have acoustic guitars thrown in to add to the atmosphere, and they fit EXTREMELY well. This album feels very pagan in nature and much more than any of their other albums. The lyrics are also great and fit seamlessly into the atmosphere.

Aside from the shoddy production that prevents you from hearing the guitars clearly, the vocals were probably my biggest complaint about the album. They are not bad at all. (Still very impressive for the fact that the dude is only 16 years old.) But my problem is that they are way too generic here. I don't like comparing future albums from bands to their older work and usually look at the album itself as a whole. But I am pretty glad that after this and Grom, Nergal found a unique vocal style that he can say is his own. When you listen to Behemoth, you just know it's them when you hear Nergal's vocals. Though, the album is easy to listen to since the vocals aren't bad and are a slightly better than typical black metal vocals. Here and there, you will hear some choruses in the background, most likely an effect from keyboards, (Take Hidden In A Fog for example), and I absolutely love when it comes on. Adds even more to the already perfect ambiance that the album brings. I also think the version of "From The Pagan Vastlands" from this album has a MUCH better and stronger atmosphere than the re-recorded one.

"The Touch Of Nya" and "He Dwells In Ice" are the soft tracks of the album. The Touch Of Nya has two BEAUTIFUL acoustic guitars playing a very simple melody. It's very relaxing to hear and is definitely one of my all-time favorite classical style acoustic pieces. The problem with it is that it's way too short. Only 50 seconds long. He Dwells In Ice has a clean guitar (or acoustic?) with some simple keyboards in the back. Nothing amazing, but a pretty good listen regardless.

Despite having generic vocals, and barely distinguishable guitars due to the poor production, the atmosphere on this album alone makes a journey on your ears from start to finish. This is an essential album to any black metal fan, and should not be skipped by anyone. If you can, go to a forest or a park in the middle of the night with this on, and this album will do its magic on you.

Standout tracks: "From The Pagan Vastlands", "Hidden In A Fog", "Entering The Fantasian Soul", and "Wolves Guard My Coffin". The Touch of Nya is an amazing piece of art, but that song is only 50 seconds long. I can't express enough how beautiful it is to me. Definitely give these a listen when you get the chance to.