Behemoth - And The Forests Dream Eternally Review
by Mark Hensch
Like the sons of the Vampyre, the ilk of Nosferatu, Behemoth slithered in their shadowy, dark majesty from the Slavic woods in 1991, forever changing what it meant to be black metal. In an age where the emerging scene of the time was largely focused in the wintery, frostbitten wastes of the Nordic lands, Behemoth's thickly forested atmospherics masked a beating, lively, and bestial pleasure in Paganism that the more stoic Nords lacked. Buried deep in a wood of endless murk, the grim odes and revelries to Slavonic Paganism the band penned in their formulative black metal years is amongst the best a BM fan can hope to hear.
Nowadays, the band has become a powerhouse of heathen death metal, with their last few releases and juggernaut live outings becoming star-making affairs. Before all that, Behemoth was a remarkably talented band playing music they loved for the sake of playing it. That isn't to say the band isn't interesting now (quite the contrary, they're one of the top death metal bands in the world), but the soul the music in the early Behemoth demos contained is well worth revisiting.
And revisited it has been! With much having changed in the nexus of Behemoth, Metal Mind Records has decided to reissue two of the band's most sought after black metal EPs; 1994's shamanistic And The Forests Dream Eternally and 1997's flaying Bewitching the Pomerania. Combined, remastered, and reprinted with full linear notes (the majority of which are scene-rousing hails from mainman Nergal himself), this new compilation is a
fantastic find, utterly superb. Though both EPs are nothing short of divine, Bewitching in particular is a rarity and also top-quality music. With this in mind, as a devout Behemoth worshipper I'm happy to have found these songs in such pristine, vital condition.
A murder of crows caws and cackles on the moody "Transylvanian Forest," which soon devolves into tight, blasting black metal of miserable, Earthy tones. The majestic "Moonspell Rites" is arguably one of the best tracks ever penned by the band, in any form, its thick bass grooves being ripped apart by a pack of savage guitar leads like a carcass being scavenged deep in the woods. Nergal's throaty, gruff chants set an epic feel to the track, and the confident, mid-paced swagger of the band's melody-soaked BM can't be beat. The original recording of "Sventevith Storming Near the Baltic" would later title the band's 1995 debut full-length, its Eastern European influences giving the song a wanderlust leading one straight into Hell. A fantastic bridge leads into a barnstorming guitar solo, and this song couldn't be any better. Next, the Pagan Poles decide to cover Bathory's "Pure Evil and Hate," doing that immortal song immense justice with a spot-on cover that is lively, necksnapping, and furious in tempo. Closing out the original Forests EP was the malevolent "Forgotten Empire of Dark Witchcraft," whose numbing clean chords washed over listeners again and again with melancholy and sorrow. As the song builds to a stunning finish, Behemoth decide to gracefully finish the original EP off with a sinister whisper, a nod to the more secretive rituals and blasphemies the Eastern European BM scene carved its mystique around. Jaw-droppingly grand.
Rounding out the compilation is the Pomerania EP, whose kickoff track, "With Spell of Inferno (Melisto)," begins with an excellent drum roll courtesy of new skinsman Inferno, the best howls Nergal has ever uttered, and a guitar riff of pure heresy, so wicked you can't help but grin with ill intent towards your fellow man. Conjuring forth more and more demonic melodies, the song burns into the smoldering follow-up of "Hidden in the Fog." "Fog" finds the band embracing a quiet, somber defiance of Christian ideals, with brutish, husky choruses, a Gypsy-folk bridge, and drifting melodies which suffocate you in a choking haze of poltergeist tones and distortions. The whole sodding album is closed by a 1997 redo of "Sventevith Storming Near the Baltic," the likes of which is even more razor-sharp this time around and ends the disc with a real slayer of a track.
Regardless of Behemoth's current musical output, it is apparent that even early on the band had something special going for them. With originals being exceedingly difficult to obtain, now is a chance to get two of BM's best-kept secrets. The scariest part of this disc is the insanely powerful music poured forth from such a young band; when passion and talent collide, the one result is always a masterpiece. If this is indeed a mere Dream, I'm wholly willing to stay asleep. Full f**king marks!
Behemoth's And the Forests Dream Eternally (reissue)
1. Transylvanian Forest
2. Moonspell Rites
3. Sventevith Storming Near the Baltic (1994 version)
4. Pure Evil and Hate (Bathory Cover)
5. Forgotten Empire of Dark Witchcraft
6. With Spell of Inferno (Melisto)
7. Hidden in the Fog
8. Sventevith Storming Near the Baltic (1997 version)
CD Info and Links
Behemoth - And The Forests Dream Eternally
Label:Metal Mind Records
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Posted by Matt Hensch:
Damn right Devilboy!
Posted by devilboy:
it's the best band after burzum ayhem darkthrone... ( band cult )
Posted by Mark:
Righty-o old chap. I had to reread that. Long story short...."There is no bad music on this album."
Thanks Prog Prince, you are the greatest.
Posted by Prog Prince:
Great review, but when you used the word 'devolves', it seemed a little misguided since it carries a negative connotation and I'm sure you didn't mean to imply that the intro to "Transylvanian Forests' is the best part of the song.