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The Oath of Black Blood - 90%

Orlok666, March 28th, 2012

This release by Beherit, originally a basically undesired (by the band at least, who apparently pissed away their money for the original album which was recently released by Hells Headbangers) compilation of a demo and ep by them which to me stands as essentially being their first album, presents a bestial and occultic vision of black metal that is rife with chaos and demonism.

Finnish black metal rather early on claimed its independence from all the various currents of second wave black metal. Rather then being inspired by Celtic Frost and Mercyful Fate like many of the bands on the continent or using melodies and a grim atmosphere as was the case with Norwegian bands, Beherit's (and also other primordial Finnish bands like Archgoat and Impaled Nazarene) influences were obviously not only the early Bathory records, but also Blasphemy, Sarcofago and primordial death metal. Except they decided that all those bands weren't anywhere near harsh enough, and made a point of amping up all the elements of those bands like they were performed whilst on a cocaine and red bull binge.

Of course later on with their masterpiece Drawing Down the Moon they would investigate slower, almost lazy tempos and using keyboards and vocal effects, on here almost everything is raw, direct and in your face. I have heard both the original and reissue versions, and I must say to the interested listener to pick up the remastered edition, not only is the cover presented in fancy color format, but the sound is vastly improved, bringing treble and clarity to the mix, with the reissue you can actually hear the bass!

I think very often Beherit are given the short bus treatment with this album, there's a lot of people who say things like, this sounds like pure noise and chaos, they can't play their instruments, etc. etc. Which I find a frustrating viewpoint because it quite simply isn't true. Buried under the insane tempos are well written riffs and songs which quite ably pull off the concept of their music. The drums themselves may be simplistic but that's exactly what they need to be for this kind of music, simple and primal, getting the job done. Same thing goes for the rest of the band, the point of this music is not to wow with technical brilliance, but instead to create a barbaric and demonic atmosphere, and that's exactly what they accomplish.

The first half of the cd is the rawer and more brutal half, made up of bestial and fast songs with old school Sarcofago inspired riffs, aggressive vocals that have quite a bit of grunting and death metal aspects to them, crazy solos and unrelenting drum beats. The bass rumbles underneath mostly following the guitars but thickening up the chainsaw tone of the guitars and giving them weight. Some people may not like the solos, but I feel they add to the hellish atmosphere, coming in with feedback and then ripping away with lazy abandon, then disappearing before you knew what hit you.

The second half of the cd is more of a preview of the sound they would continue with, with tracks like Black Mass Prayer that craft a dark evil atmosphere reaching into some kind of abyss, showing off along with other bits and pieces of ambience Holocausto's ability on the keyboard, yet again with a less is more approach.

Beast of Damnation is the beginning of the metal portion of the last bit of the cd, which features a much more distant guitar, and heavier bass. The vocals make up the biggest difference, showing Holocausto's mature vocal technique, which is made up of an effected whispered main vocal which seems to be coming from a radio to hell, with some crazy over dubbing. The over all feeling is much more demonic and oppressive and I enjoy it. Also the songs feature more variation, with slower sections which work well with the faster parts. I feel the approach of this later material has a much more ambient and dense effect then the earlier more bestial Sarcofago inspired material.

So what can I say, unless you're a real wuss, this is essential material for the black metal listener, presenting a bestial and aggressive vision of Beherit's primordial sound. Maybe not as good as Drawing Down the Moon, but really that's like comparing apples to oranges. Buy or die!