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The Second Wave's Ugly Twisted Sister - 72%

Liquid_Braino, December 16th, 2010

I have a confession to make. After my friend bought this cassette back in 1992 thanks to the diabolical sketch on the front cover,while listening to it for the first time we had no idea that what we were subjecting ourselves to was in fact black metal. The term “black metal” in our little world in North America hadn’t really caught on yet, with Darkthrone being the only band I knew that labeled themselves as such, thanks to the proclamation on the back cover of their “A Blaze In The Northern Sky” CD. Thus, due to the abundance of low pitched growling and the occasional gurgling noises during at least the first two thirds or so of the tape, we basically deduced that Beherit was in fact a grinding death metal band in the vein of early Carcass with a major satanic bent. Sloppy as refried vomit with garage band production qualities, but death metal nonetheless. Listening to this now infamous recording eons later, I can plainly state that after exploring the black metal genre since those days, my recollections of this output weren’t completely unfounded, and yet I understand now why The Oath Of Black Blood gets lumped in to the black metal genre.

The story behind this release as a demo and an EP tossed together as one package due to the lack of a proper recording of these songs is well engrained in underground metal history, but I feel as if the situation turned out to be an odd blessing in disguise, and not just for the band since they were able to get fucked up and shitfaced with the monetary advance. The riffs themselves throughout most of these tracks are essentially thrash rhythms executed as fast as the band can pull off and with barely any palm-muting and pretty much no melodic passages so to speak. The approach to these recordings actually reminded me of thrashy hardcore acts like Septic Death from a mere musical standpoint in certain ways, particularly in the guitar tone of the first demo and the chaotic atmosphere in general. The blasting drums and the guitar seem to be perpetually trying to catch up to each other while running neck and neck for minuscule periods, while the bass player plays whatever, as if knowing his contributions aren’t going to matter much regarding the finished product. It sounds like I’m really shitting on the band here, but their ballistic “fuck tempo!” mentality clouds these rather mediocre riffs in enough murkiness to cause the listener to focus more on the overall brain-bursting sound and unbridled aura than what they were truly trying to accomplish in a technical sense, and it kind of works! Cleaning up this mess with a better production would emphasize the limitations of the band’s skills moreso than improve upon the music itself. There’s also a certain charm to the whole package as well, since as the clichés somewhat go, music doesn’t just come from the fingers or the mind, but also the heart, the soul and occasionally the penis. If I could deduce which body part or mystical presence these guys channeled for inspiration during these sessions, I would have to say the stomach.

There are certain peculiarities that permit me to listen to this entire creation in one sitting that add variance to the proceedings. The most obvious would be that following the first intro and six songs, the entire production changes as the Dawn Of Satan’s Millenium EP introduces itself with a worthy and eerie ambient track before barraging forward with a more “blackened” sound for the remaining cuts, sort of like Quorthorn on a cocaine and Turkish espresso binge. Personally it’s hard to decide which of the two halves of The Oath Of Black Blood I prefer since they both have pluses and minuses, which is where the vocals play a big factor. The earlier tracks rely heavily on brutal gutturals with the occasional rasp, albeit with some cool vocal effects haphazardly thrown in on occasion to jar the listener. Sudden increased volume bellows in tracks like Goat Worship and that bizarre crazy “demon voice” shit going on towards the middle of Demonomancy do wonders to make these songs stand out, coming across as both twisted and, maybe not to the band’s benefit, humorous. The second part of this disc introduces us to a new main vocal approach; the sound of someone transmitting his evil poetry from across the sea using an old ham radio. Its raspy quality leans a bit more towards what was evolving into the black metal screech than the grunting of the earlier tracks, and it’s even less decipherable. I find it more of an acquired taste, and as interesting as it sounds, I’m also glad it only appears within the last three tracks, interrupted by occasional low growls. Musically, the second part of this album has a cleaner guitar sound, though certainly still unpolished, and the guitar solos are still as ridiculous and amusing as ever. It can’t even be described as random note-hitting throughout the fretboard, since it sounds like the guitarist has difficulty moving his arm around, preferring to stay in one place on the neck and bang out whatever notes were available in those few frets over and over. Maybe the guitar neck was extremely heavy.

So in retrospect this collection of songs surreptitiously evoke that black metal misanthropic spirit while sounding quite dissimilar to what was transpiring in Norway at the time. It’s not without a strong evil and atmospheric vibe, but this is not black metal in the traditional style of windswept sheets of tremolo and high pitched screams. It’s an uglier mutant form of the genre that somehow remains a well known underground ‘classic’ while plenty of sophisticated and musically talented acts from that era have vanished into obscurity. Those bands may have had skill, but this band had ‘stomach’. Beherit would of course utilize the better aspects of this release as building blocks to their more accomplished and first ‘proper’ album Drawing Down The Moon, but I still found myself enjoying this release for what it is all these years later despite its blatant shortcomings. For What it's worth, listening to The Oath Of Black Blood could be construed as feverishly sucking on a freshly used tampon…difficult to ingest and rather disgusting as a whole, but not bereft of some nutritional value.