Beherit
Engram

Evangelical Christians are a productive lot – perhaps it’s something about building God’s kingdom on earth. Hack writer and huckster Tim LaHaye cranks out a kitschy Left Behind novel each year and ascends the bestseller list. It’s a different story for team Satan – perhaps it’s the time necessary to properly apply corpsepaint or elude law enforcement.

Beherit is a prime example. The necrotic Finnish black metal band recorded several low-fi staples and abruptly disbanded after Drawing Down The Moon (1993). It’s now regarded as their best work and a peer of early 1990s Norwegian prime. After 15 years the band has returned to black metal with Engram. At a time when bands try to look and sound menacing and fail these black metal OGs have produced an album that often feels legitimately evil. Engram is a potent combination of primitive black metal with ambient music.

Frontman Marko Laiho (Nuclear Holocausto) has flirted with experimental music, even techno, and those influences are present. Colossal riffs meet slow, churning passages and Sunn O))) drones throughout. While the asides are generally welcome what pulls you in are the more traditional moments like the opener “Axiom Heroine” and the three-plus minute chugger “All in Satan.” The shorter tracks have an old-school black metal feel with a sleek modern varnish.

One gripe: the lumbering riffs are so overpowering that the vocals and musical effects are obscured by the electric din. There’s more here than straightforward black metal. Backing off on the suffocating guitar would allow listeners to better hear other elements. The 15-minute closer “Demon Advance” is a tad bloated but the remainder of the tracks are so strong that it’s a proper wind-down.

Black metal is often about as menacing as a haunted house run by your local fire department. Engram is a needed welcome to hell from a black metal original.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Justin M Norton
June 16th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: timshel

    I have been waiting for this review to drop on this site, though I expected Grimulfr to handle it. Not a bad review– I tend to agree with most of your points. It’s a good release, but it doesn’t offer anything particularly new. For some reason, I was hoping Beherit would step back into the black metal scene and revitalize it somehow. Not the case here. Oh well.


  2. Commented by: Dan

    I think there was little hope that Beherit were going to revitalize anything. Their prior releases are quality but I’ve never found them to be anything other than excellent representations of the genre as a whole rather than something that defined it. From where I’m standing, black metal doesn’t really need any sort of revitalization, especially considering the wealth of bands currently pushing the envelope (Nachtmystium, Cobalt, Deathspell Omega, etc…) As it stands, this feels more like an homage to black metal’s roots with some more modern, atmospheric trappings and better production. The expectations for Beherit are also pretty high, coming from another band this would be getting even more positive buzz I feel.


  3. Commented by: timshel

    Fair points all, Dan. I guess I am guilty of the sentiment in your last remark – – I wanted this album to be more than it is simply because it’s Beherit. After such a long time away, I expected something more exciting and edgy from them. I think “Drawing Down the Moon” did push the envelope, though, more than you give it credit for – – and what about “Electric Doom Synthesis”? Certainly not a classic record, or even a very good one at that, but still genre-bending for its time.


  4. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Loved the opening statement. Proud member of Team Satan. Cardholder #3627850. :D

    Pretty cool record. Nothing groundbreaking but solid throughout. Dunno why, but these guys always gave me the impression everything they did was tongue-in-cheek.


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