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The Oath of Black Blood - 89%

Noctir, December 22nd, 2011

The Oath of Black Blood is the debut album from one of the oldest and most revered Finnish black metal bands, Beherit. It is widely accepted as being the band's first full-length record, though that is not actually the case. The band pissed away the money given to them for the studio so Turbo Records had no other choice but to release the Demonomancy demo, along with the Dawn of Satan's Millennium 7", as the first Beherit L.P. In some ways, this was a good thing, as these recordings captured the raw essence of what Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance, Sodomatic Slaughter and Demon Fornication were trying to conjure up.

The music has nothing to do with what was going on in Norway or Sweden at the time. This is not directly influenced by Venom, Bathory or Hellhammer. The chaotic sounds on this record were inspired by the likes of Sarcofago, Vulcano and Blasphemy. This is quite evident by the vocals, which are deeper and utilized in the form of primal grunts and random growls. There is almost no sense of melody, whatsoever. This hellish assault is violent and merciless, lacking catchy rhythms or memorable vocal lines. Beherit took a raw and primal approach, much like the South American bands that influenced them the most, often seeming easily confused with early death metal, though the purely occult and Satanic atmosphere of black metal dominates the sound. In a lot of ways, this can be seen as the European equivalent of Blasphemy, though much more primitive and barbaric. The most structured track on here is "Witchcraft", which starts out with an eerie doom riff and then maintains some sort of recognizable arrangement, once the speed picks up.

As one might expect from a demo and E.P. from 1990, the production is the epitome of grim and necro. This is raw as hell and very lo-fi, to say the least. The vocals are a little high in the mix, though that may actually add to the charm. The sound is rather muddy, at times, with the riffs becoming difficult to distinguish from one another. In a sense, it all just serves to create a wall of hellish noise, blending together like demonic howls and tortured screams among the raging flames of the world below.

Beherit's first album is not for everyone. This works better as a backdrop for Satanic rituals, rather than something to truly immerse yourself into. The Oath of Black Blood is a hideous album that sounds as if it was vomited forth from the very mouth of Hell. If you are seeking beautiful guitar melodies, look somewhere else. Pure evil lurks within, nothing more.

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