Beherit
Engram


3.5
great

Review

by ATC USER (2 Reviews)
April 12th, 2009 | 21 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Beherit returns to the ritual, evoking familiar demons and unfamiliar ones. Despite being the strongest effort of their career, it is still trapped somewhere between single-mindedly evil and hokey.

Here’s an album I never expected to hear. Like most black metal listeners, I’ve always had a love/hate relation with Finnish black metal in general, and Beherit in particular. In 1993, they released a very interesting album called Drawing Down the Moon that was hailed as a cult classic by some and unlistenable raw trash by others. I didn’t think it was either of the two but possibly a stepping stone towards something greater. It wasn't Horna yet or even close, but conceivably, they could have been just as good. Then they went ahead and turned into an industrial dark ambient act, releasing two forgettable full lengths. I expected they’d disbanded. In any case, I’d lost interest in them.

What was special about Beherit was always how committed to the riff they were. Every song was maniacally devoted to its riff’s purpose to the point of being overly repetitive. They always went from interesting tribal intro involving strange instruments to the standard riff and then never looked back for the entirety of the song, except for the last movement where the keys came in. Their vocalist utilized whispers and growls at low volume to give the already simplistic canvas a bit of color. Doesn’t sound special, right? It shouldn’t. But like Hellhammer, who were guilty of most of these sins, Beherit know their way around their riff. Of course, no one formed a band called “*** Hellhammer” so perhaps there is some difference.

Engram is a good-to-great distillation of that very philosophy, just now with more Bathory. The opener “Axiom Heroine” (ignore the heavily accented Finnish voice saying “I just hate this world” at the start) gives way to a very simple driving three-chord Hellhammer/Bathory-esque riff over which a keyboard melody writhes. This song literally sounds like snake charming set to music, or how I imagine it would be anyway. Serpentine’s the only word to describe the intro. Marco’s vocals are buried deep under the verse riff, an odd choice, considering how un-raw the production for this album is compared to their old work. Eventually, the keyboard melody reprises itself for an oddly triumphant finish. Of course, this feeling of triumph is quickly dispelled by how weak the vocals were for the next track, “Destroyer of Thousand Worlds.” What ought to have been an awesome old-school song ends up sounding wholly unconvincing simply on the back of Marco’s vocal performance here. You can hear the phlegm but can’t really feel much bile.

Where their influences really come together for the new Beherit sound is the brilliant “Pimeyden Henki” which is an aggressive ritualistic beast that marries the atmosphere Beherit are going for with interesting musical ideas and a solid vocal performance. It’s a simple song that is so much more than the sum of its parts. Marco’s voice carries presence for the first time in the album, making the ritual much more ominous. He moans like a griefstruck monk while a tremolo picked riff shrouds the musical landscape in a thick fog. The drums plod on, a grim funeral full of palpable despair and anger. Underneath, a vague clicking can be heard along with some flange effects, that thankfully don’t distract from the forlorn atmosphere. This is pagan metal, perfectly executed, a wonderful evocation of nightfall.

Of course, the paganism is often laughable for its silliness, especially on “Suck my blood” with its try-hard, then try-harder attempt at dominance. The sheer predictability of the mostly aggressive track is matched only by how artificial the ritual elements are when they show up. Beherit’s strength and weakness both lie in their strident one-note approach to music, which is what shows up their attempts at innovation as false. The techno/dance beat that shows up on “All in Satan,” while not obnoxious, seems a bridge too far when matched against their talent for the riff.

The final track, “Demon Advance”, is both the longest and the most ambivalent. Here, they legitimately make their avant-garde case with a futuristic tribal sound that, despite the oxymoron, seems convincing. Short stabs from the keys punctuate the lengthy second half while the bass rumbles over swampy drums and various hand instruments. It’s moody stuff. Legitimately progressive, it uncoils itself repeatedly over its 15 minutes, and contains multiple riffs that unlike the rest of the album, aren’t meant to be catchy. At this point, after being lulled into surrender by the unrelenting riffs of the previous tracks, this song is like poison simply because of its unpredictability. Now, that’s another thing I didn’t think I’d say, a truly unpredictable Beherit song.


user ratings (49)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
Conservationist (4.5)
Renovates black metal in form and substance, but can be enjoyed as pure music in the ripping style o...

A.K. (4.5)
I Fucking Hate This World...


Comments:Add a Comment 
jingledeath
April 12th 2009


7104 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Nice review, I gave this a listen a few days ago and it's was pretty good probably in the 3.5 region for me as well.

rasputin
April 12th 2009


14544 Comments


Great review. I'm not going to even bother listening to this.

Hyperbore
April 12th 2009


856 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It wasn't Horna yet or even close, but conceivably, they could have been just as good.

LOL, Horna's one of the worst bands in BM today. If you think Electric Doom Synthesis is forgettable, you haven't really listened to it. It's an excellent ambient record.

Of course, no one formed a band called “*** Hellhammer” so perhaps there is some difference.

..."fuck Hellhammer" was pretty much Tom G. Warrior's own attitude towards that band for a very, very long time.This Message Edited On 04.12.09

illmitch
April 12th 2009


5429 Comments


Drawing Down the Moon is easily one of my favorite BM albums, so I'm definitely going to look this up

ATC
April 13th 2009


42 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I remember disliking Electric Doom Synthesis but I don't have a copy of it anymore. I'll give it another go at some point probably. I like Horna *shrug*

Hawks
April 13th 2009


35824 Comments


Horna is pretty good, but not great by any means. As for this band, I only have Oath of the Black Blood and I really like it. I still have to get Drawing Down the Moon.

Digging: Engraved - Before The Tales

karina
April 13th 2009


165 Comments


this album sucks. pagan moon is hilarious

Hyperbore
April 13th 2009


856 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hawks, definitely get Drawing Down the Moon. It has all the elements of The Oath of Black Blood but also adds actual structure - OoBB was little more than a collection of songs and was never intended as a finished work.

Hawks
April 13th 2009


35824 Comments


Yeah I'll check that out in the next couple of days.

Wizard
April 13th 2009


19403 Comments


This sounds worthy of my time. Excellent review!

Digging: Khonsu - Traveller

Hawks
April 13th 2009


35824 Comments


I'm about to check out Drawing Down the Moon right now. Might also check this out soon.

Hyperbore
April 13th 2009


856 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Finally listening to this... so far it's leaving a very good first impression.

Hyperbore
April 13th 2009


856 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Holy shit, "Demon Advance" is badass. It's like Dead Can Dance meets Tangerine Dream meets Gorgoroth.

Passname
September 11th 2010


301 Comments


Album is badass.

sifFlammable
February 2nd 2011


2741 Comments


Did behert have a vocalist change between drawing down the moon and this or something? Such a difference in the sound!

Sturmmann
April 14th 2012


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

...Because, I just fucking hate this world.

Sturmmann
April 14th 2012


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think their last album (lyrics mainly) is quite hyperbole to nowadays "pure" BM bands.and their "orthodox" feeling.lol


KILL
April 14th 2012


71795 Comments


sup wilton

Digging: Invisible - El jardin de los presentes

Eunuch
September 29th 2013


1250 Comments


to heaaven, hell where you go? something something THEN YOU DIEEE

Pagan Moon m/

Shuyin
October 18th 2013


11632 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

because.. i just fucking hate this world
DUN DUN DUN DUN DUUUN

Digging: Cannibal Corpse - A Skeletal Domain



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