When I listen to And The Forests Dream Eternally
, it makes me sit back and wonder why Behemoth shifted their style so much when they had a sound as promising as what is recorded here to start out with. The departure from their black metal roots into their blackened death metal sound of today took place after their disappointing sophomore effort, 1996’s Grom
. However, the material from the very early days of the band was an interesting form of black metal, laden with melody and guitar solos which allows for an easy, enjoyable listen. 1994’s And The Forests Dream Eternally
is probably the best example of this sound, and one of the most enjoyable black metal EP’s in my collection.
The music is abrasive in the vein of most raw black metal, with verses often being heavy, but not necessarily fast-tempo. The distorted guitars offer a distinct black metal flavor to the music when combined with the tremolo picked riffs, but what really makes things interesting is the unusually good production for a black metal EP released in this time period. It’s still far from perfect, keeping the album raw, but the production allows for the numerous guitar melodies to shine through wonderfully. Also benefitting from the above-average production values are the drums, which are generally very well executed and aren’t afraid to be complex. There are numerous times on this album where the sound sits on the edge of greatness, such as “Moonspell Rites”, which showcases six minutes of brilliant riffs and an extremely well-written guitar solo which changes pace quite often, adding untold amounts of atmosphere, but also a hefty bit of complexity, to a style of music which is known for its repetitiveness and stubborn unwillingness to evolve.
There are moments where the riffing hints at genres other than black metal. During “Pure Evil And Hate”, the song is certainly influenced by thrash and even a slight portion of punk, from upbeat riffing and outstanding bass which actually is put right in the forefront to a brief shredding guitar solo. The music pays a lot of homage to the more epic style of Bathory, but also adds in its own distinct second-wave Norwegian touch to keep things original. Things often slow down to make way for a more atmospheric riff, instead of keeping the music full-throttle for the entire EP. This relaxed atmosphere keeps And The Forests Dream Eternally
thoroughly enjoyable for all black metal fans, but also relatively accessible for those who are looking to get farther into the scene.
If I could tell you what my favorite Behemoth release would have to be, I would instantly point at And The Forests Dream Eternally
. It is a release which, while it is only an EP, holds its appeal much longer than their rather repetitive and boring sound which they put forth nowadays with Demigod
and The Apostasy
. It shows that the band wasn’t always what they are now, and it really points out how far away from their roots the band has come. Being different doesn’t make this EP bad, actually it’s quite the contrary, because And The Forests Dream Eternally
is an album where I can say all five tracks are enjoyable to listen to, and while some are better than others, it all adds up to a nice piece of black metal with a melodic flair.