Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Beherit – H418ov21.C

“Death Doom will never die!” proclaims the insides of this strange, futuristic album. Even from the cover art, it is hard to believe that this album is by the uber-cult Finnish Black Metal band Beherit. Many of us are already familiar with their first two albums, “Oath of the Black Blood” and “Drawing Down the Moon”. “Oath of the Black Blood” was not a Beherit-authorized official release, merely a bootleg of a couple Beherit demos. This makes the epic dark science masterpiece of “Drawing Down the Moon” thee first official Beherit album; thus making 1994's “H418ov21.C” the second Beherit album with only one EP recorded in between. This is certainly not your typical sophomore release from an extreme Metal band, more like if said Metal band traveled 200 years into the future to record their follow-up effort.
There were a few hints of what was to come, like the thick cosmic atmosphere of “Drawing Down the Moon”, the space imagery on the cover of “Drawing...”, the electro pulse of the drum machine-fueled Black Metal “Messe Des Mort” EP, etc. This band had obviously made conscious steps to evolve well beyond the simple brutality of their early demos.
“H418ov21.C” reminds me of Kraftwerk’s “Radioactivity”. Both albums tend towards isolating basic elements in a song and break them down further into fetishistic compositions based solely on sound design and atmosphere. For example, the track called "Fish" is simply a blur of synth church bells that quickly fades into a pounding electro kick drum that plays unaccompanied for three minutes. This is pure electronic music with occasional evil vocals or whispering being the only obviously human aspects. The frightening vocals growling over some overdriven keyboards and sluggish stomping drum machines give the opening track some sense of “death doom”; however the album quickly veers into an entirely synthetic world of lifeless and icy cold nightmare industrial. Hardly an “ambient” album, in the drifting synth soundscape sense of the word, each track on this album is a unique and highly conceptual track of romantic sci-fi minimalism.
With this album, Beherit only further cemented their status as one of my personal all-time favorite bands. I love that they felt so completely free to change styles of music entirely while still keeping their old band name and logo. While no longer playing Black Metal, it is obvious that their inspirations are still coming from a dark and sinister place, but their music has somehow transcended the confines of any genre.

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