Friday, January 4, 2013


Behexen - The Poisonous Path
Debemur-Morti Productions, 2016
Genre: Black Metal

1. The Poisonous Path
2. Wand of Shadows
3. Cave of the Dark Dreams
4. Sword of Promethean Fire
5. Umbra Luciferi
6. Luminous Darkness
7. Chalice of Abyssal Water
8. Pentagram of the Black Earth
9. Gallows of Inversion
10. Rakkaudesta Saatanaan

I know it's a strange thing to see this on here after "Nightside Emanations". I, honestly, thought I was done with Behexen after that release and they were wholly going in a direction I didn't really care about. However, when a track from "The Poisonous Path" showed up on my facebook feed, I decided to give a new song a try. It's been the usual four years for a new Behexen release and I'm not expecting them to ever reclaim their glory days with the loss of the original guitarists, but "The Poisonous Path" actually came out rather well, all things considered.

As I was saying, it doesn't return to the glory days, but it does a good job of blending the new direction into their more occult atmosphere that the band is going for now. It makes for a far more haunting and dark album compared to earlier material. I feel like this is the album they were attempting when they put out "Nightside Emanations", but they finally struck the right balance with this new formula. I feel they draw a lot of influence from the Swedish scene along the likes of Ondskapt, for example, but recast in the Finnish know how. However, I think Behexen writes considerably faster music. I think the track that brought back some of the catchier style was the opening of "Chalice of Abyssal Water", which was one of the stand out songs on  the album for me.

As we've come to expect from Debemur-Morti releases the packaging is quite stunning. It's got a really well done design with booklet inside. The production is very good as well with the album being mixed and mastered at Necromorbus, which has become a serious mark of quality in the Black Metal scene lately. Nothing feels over produced and Necromorbus keeps a fairly organic quality to the overall sound.

So, if you enjoy the idea of Behexen blending more in with the Swedish occult sounding bands this is the best album they've done in that vein. For the old and long time Behexen fans, I'm not sure if I'm going to be pulling this out over "By the Blessing of Satan" or the Horna split, but once in a while "The Poisonous Path" may grace my speakers, certainly far more often than "Nightside Emanations" at the very least.

Behexen - Nightside Emanations
Debemur-Morti Productions, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Wrathful Dragon Hau-Hra
3. Death's Black Light
4. Circle Me...
5. We Burn with Serpent Fire
6. Luciferian Will
7. Awaken Tiamat
8. Temple of the Silent Curses
9. Shining Death
10. Kiss of Our Dark Mother

It's always a difficult thing when a band goes through line-up changes. For Behexen they are a rather devastating change. Behexen has lost both guitarists Gargantum and Reaper, which would obviously result in a sound change. At first I wasn't too bothered by it, because Torog and Horns turned to Shatraug on guitar and also got Wraath, two competent musicians. I figured with Shatraug some of that raw edge would return, and it has indeed, but the songwriting just isn't there.

I think there was something special about the prior Behexen releases. They all had this interesting quality behind the guitar work and with new musicians that has been lost. You can tell they try to emulate it with the song "Wrathful Dragon Hau-Hra" with that sort of grinding styled Gorgoroth beat, but it's for nearly the whole song. The prior Behexen never really did this, they used that style to great effect smattering it throughout the entire release, not condensing it into a single song. From here things just become different. They start wending their way down the path of Swedish occult metal, at times tending toward Watain worship with songs like "We Burn with Serpent Fire". They include a lot of those slow picked chord styles that Ondskapt and Mortuus can favor at times, but, I don't know, I just thought the other bands did this better. I don't know if Shatraug is spreading himself to thin with his involvement with so many projects. Sometimes they do a great job with the style as we hear in "Luciferian Will", which I thought was quite a good song. The other major shift that occurs on this release is with Torog's vocals. Gone are his higher range vocals and he sticks more with his low-tones, which is a real shame. I'm just glad he's singing for Sargeist as well, so we can actual still experience Torog's true vocal prowess.

Behexen is, obviously, lined with competent musicians and this is, by no means, a bad album, but it's also not a great album. It doesn't stand above the other releases out there as something that is a must have. In fact, I never even purchased this album, I borrowed it from a friend amidst warnings about the style change. I guess if you can't get enough of that Swedish occult style of Black Metal, then you'll enjoy this. The art direction for the band is truly wonderful, as I would expect with Debemur-Morti, but that's the best part of the album to me. Maybe the band can get things together over the next few years and put together a better direction.

Behexen & Satanic Warmaster Split
Hammer of Hate, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

1. Mouth of Leviathan
2. Where the Devil Spoke
Satanic Warmaster:
3. Where Eternity Awaits
4. The Burning Eyes of the Werewolf

Side Sataic Warmaster: ...coming eventually...
Side Behexen:

It must seem strange that after my initial impressions of "My Soul for His Glory" that I would pick this up as soon as I saw it. I can't say it was because of Satanic Warmaster, because I've never really followed that band at this time. I bought this purely for the Behexen material. I think fond memories of their split with Horna drove me to do it. Perhaps remembering the growing pains Lord Belial went through when they tried to use "better production" with "Angelgrinder". Whatever the reason I picked this up.

So, with some reservations I put this on and was immediately astounded with how amazing the songs were. "Mouth of Leviathan" is simply incredible and has everything I ever wanted to hear from Behexen. The material is easily on par with the Horna split and that is quite a bold statement. I don't think it's because my expectations were lowered from the full-length, years later as I re-listen to this material, it really stands the test of time. The two tracks are really what we wanted to hear from the mighty Behexen and they clearly still have the sound in their bones. It makes me sit back and wonder why the full-length doesn't really sound like this. Once again some of their best material is found on a split and if you're a Behexen fan of old, I think you would even find merit in this. The production quality is similar to "My Soul for His Glory", so it's a bit more on the cleaner production side, but the writing is where this material really shines. Again, another must have split from Behexen, sadly only two tracks though.

Behexen - My Soul for His Glory
Hammer of Hate, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

1. Let the Horror and Chaos Come
2. Born in the Serpent of the Abyss
3. Demonic Fleshtemple
4. 6.6.6.
5. Cathedral of the Ultimate Void
6. My Soul for His Glory
7. And All Believers Shall be Damned
8. My Stigmas Bleeding Black

After a four year wait and the amazing "From the Devil's Chalice", I think we built up some serious expectations for what this release would be. If you were expecting a razor edge response from the realms of "By the Blessing of Satan", I think you will find this a disappointing endeavor. I found this to be a very poor follow-up when I first listened to it, but over the years, I've found some merit in it. I don't think it's as bad as a lot of the reviews were claiming, but it's still not the follow-up we really wanted from Behexen. I mention that the overall layout and design of the album is really amazing though. It's probably some of the best artwork Behexen have ever brought us, but that slick presentation has made its way into the music as well.

The first thing you'll notice when putting this on is that the production has changed dramatically. Even though this is being recorded in the same studio, the studio must have undergone some serious upgrades, because things are far more clear in the mix this time. Unfortunately, with that clarity we lose the razor sharp edge of the prior harsh styling. The guitars also come off as being somewhat muffled, along with everything else. I think it took me years to get over this, I would keep revisiting the album in the hopes that I would garner something from it, and I think I eventually was able to find merit in the release. It's unlikely to ever be my "go to" Behexen fix, but musically the album does start of in quite a promising fashion. "Let the Horror and Chaos Come" is exactly what we'd expect as a follow-up with "From the Devil's Chalice" sitting in the middle of the discography. So, Behexen haven't lost their writing edge by any means, its just being presented in a more modern light. I think within that framework this album comes off as being much darker, rather than vicious or harsh as we have heard before. I can certainly understand fans not really being bothered to take the time it takes to transition to their new feel, but I eventually did and I like a lot of what this album has on it in the end. It has some wonderful sections of tremelo picking that just come off as beautifully haunting.

I would say approaching this Behexen album with a degree of caution would be wise. Don't get too built up by the prior catalog and you may find this release quite enjoyable. For me, I think it is forever going to be just a decent album. I don't think I would ever see this as an amazing release, because when it came out I had built up quite the expectations over that four year span.

Behexen - From the Devil's Chalice
Woodcut Records, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

1. Invocation of Zabulus
2. Melancholic Remembrances of Dark Times
3. From the Devil's Chalice
4. Void...
5. Holy Foul
6. Canticle (For Ye Lord)

After another four year wait, we hear stirrings from the world Behexen. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, "From the Devil's Chalice" does not feature newly recording material. It's all new songs from Behexen, but  this was recorded in September of 2004. I was unable to track down the 3 x 7" release of this, but luckily in 2009 Woodcut also released a CD version of this excellent release. The band explains more in the liner notes: "Originally this material was only intended to be released as the 3 x 7" vinyl box-set, to celebrate our 10th year journey on the path guided by our Lord. Due to countless delays and other problems the release of the box-set was delayed already for a ridiculous three years. Thus, the whole original idea was watered down and lost its meaning completely." This is a real shame, waiting three years to put something like this out is ridiculous, as they say. I am glad the material has finally seen the light of day though and I am glad they released a CD version, because in 2008 it was quite hard to get my hands on the 7" set and I never did so, and the prices being asked now are also ridiculous, so I'll just be happy with my CD edition.

If you really enjoyed "By the Blessing of Satan" then there is no reason why you wouldn't enjoy this. The one, and only complaint, I can furnish towards this is that the recording quality is a bit more harsh than before. It's skirting that edge where it's a bit too harsh, whereas "By the Blessing of Satan" had a far more balanced feel between harshness and audible. The harshness on From the Devil's Chalice" is being generated from the fuzz sound in the distortion, which is a bit much for this material. On "By the Blessing of Satan" it was just right. Musically this material sits somewhere between the material on the split with Horna and "By the Blessing of Satan", so this is some of Behexen's better writing, naturally. It has the vicious quality of the prior full-length, but also manages to have the melancholic and thoughtful quality of the material on the split! I think if this was done as a full-length it would have been an amazing release as well, still it's over thirty minutes in length, so it may as well be closely classed as such.

"From the Devil's Chalice" is an incredible follow-up to "By the Blessing of Satan", albeit its a bit fuzzier, but the compositions that we love are certainly here. It's a shame that this material had to sit on the shelf for so long before ever seeing the light of day. Luckily Behexen's writing is strong enough that it doesn't really matter when it comes out, it's going to still receive good reviews for the quality they manage to bring us.

Behexen & Horna Split
Autistiartili Records, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

1. Näkyjen Tuhkasta
2. Rautamyrsky
3. Kätketyn Jumaluuden Vartija
4. Verta Koirille
5. Ritual of Flesh and Blood
6. Beyond the Shadow of My Lord
7. Distant Call from Darkness

Side Horna: ...coming eventually...
Side Behexen:

Few splits get referenced as being truly amazing, but this happens to be one of them. Both bands appear in rare form on this release, especially Behexen, in my opinion, who overshadowed the usually indomitable Horna. If you're a fan of either band you should count this amongst your collection, because if it is not there, you are missing out on something truly special. I bought this as soon as it was released and got the original press which was limited to 1,000 hand-numbered copies. I own #424.

It's hard to believe Behexen were recording so much stellar material at such a condensed time. It's interesting to note that based on the recording dates the material for this split was recorded before "By the Blessing of Satan", even though it was released after the album. This shows a very different side of Behexen. Here the songs aren't designed around harsh and vicious Black Metal, instead the sound is so much more melancholic and beautiful. Sure, we still have some of those catchy riff sections we've come to admire, but its cast in this mold of brooding melody, which you wouldn't think would work from a band of this caliber. But Behexen prove us wrong and really show us how exceptional they are at composing material. The lead guitar pieces that really set the mood are simply intoxicating. If Behexen had decided to release an entire album of this kind of material I would probably herald it as one of the finest Black Metal albums to behold, instead we got "By the Blessing of Satan", which I am not about to complain about having. But if they could somehow, pull off this type of composition for the follow-up to "By the Blessing of Satan", Behexen would easily launch themselves as one of the strongest Black Metal bands at the forefront of the scene.

If you're the type of person out there who ignores split material, you should make an exception for this release. It has some of the finest material from Behexen out there and doesn't appear on any other release right now. Absolutely a must have!

Behexen - By the Blessing of Satan
Woodcut Records, 2004
Genre: Black Metal

1. By the Blessing of Satan
2. Fist of the Satanist
3. Sieluni Saatanan Vihasta Roihuten
4. Celebration of Christ's Fall
5. Black Metal Baptism
6. Watchers of My Black Temple
7. Under the Eye of Lord

This is the first album where I first heard Behexen for the first time and what an incredible release. I figured the follow-up to "Ritual Satanum" would be an excellent release, but I never imagined it would be this incredible. Spending three years in writing has clearly paid off for the band and they have managed to put out one of the finest Black Metal albums around. This release certainly will hold a timeless effect for many years to come, because even as the years pass by, this album is still an incredible experience even ten years later when I finally sit down to review this.

"By the Blessing of Satan" gives us everything we would want from a true Black Metal release. This is Black Metal performed in the very traditional vein and I wouldn't have this release any other way. It pulls the finest moments of influences from the likes of Darkthrone and Gorgoroth and showcases all the best parts of those projects in a single sitting. Now imagine all that cast in the cold tremolo style of Mayhem and we have quite an incredible album on our hands. Listen to the glorious lines of "Celebration of Christ's Fall" for example. "By the Blessing of Satan" is harsh, violent, and uncompromising in its fanatical display of Black Metal. For me, this is why harsh and raw production can truly enhance a bands album. Like Endstille in the prior years, the production values have managed to give this album a far more intense edge and, no, more slick production would have favored the release. Instead it would have robbed the album of that atmosphere. Behexen isn't all blast beats and brutality either, despite the majority of tracks having that feel. "Watchers of My Black Temple" has a very slow and brooding build up for the majority of the song. Other songs have middle sections that tend more towards the haunting and atmospheric, but for the most part this album is an uncompromising release.

Is "By the Blessing of Satan" bringing anything new to the genre? No, of course, but that doesn't matter. This is the kind of stand-out composition we're looking for every time a Black Metal fan purchases an album. I don't always need "new" elements in my Black Metal, what I need is good and well performed Black Metal and "By the Blessing of Satan" brings this in overwhelming doses. So, if you want a Black Metal band that can truly perform what Black Metal is supposed to sound like in this modern age, I highly recommend you listen to this release!

Behexen  - Ritual Satanum
Sinister Figure, 2000
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro/The Summoning
2. Sota Valon Jumalaa Vastaan
3. Night of the Blasphemy
4. Christ Forever Die
5. Towards the Father
6. Saatanan Varjon Synkkyydessä
7. Baphomet's Call...
8. The Flames of the Blasphemer
9. Blessed be the Darkness
10. Ritual Satanum

Pictured above is the 2004 re-release on Dynamic Arts Records.

After the excellent "Blessed by Darkness" demo it was high time Behexen got themselves into a studio to record their debut full-length. All the songs from that demo see their re-recording here and this is where they truly shine. Now, I have never heard the original pressing of this, but this re-release has undergone re-mastering, so, I just assume it sounds better overall.

“Rituale Satanum” is a pretty impressive release at the time for this band and is harsh foray into the realms of Black Metal akin to the likes of Horna. While the Swedish and Norwegian bands delve into the more slick production world, other places are putting together some of the harshest and most vile Black Metal to be heard and this is where Behexen excels. The raw production values really give this Behexen album the edge to make it even more interesting. When Torog's vocals take over the mix they sound all the more fanatical with such a harsh backdrop. His vocals tend toward the higher spectrum, but in a very intense way, not just high pitched wails designed to mimic Varg. The new songs composed for this have some parts that are outright wonderful and eerie sounding amidst everything, so the demo before this didn't showcase their best songs at all. Listen to the way "Christ Forever Die" ends, which is simply magnificent. Like Horna, Behexen manages to write material that can have a sort of catchy edge to them as we hear in "Baphomet's Call..." Behexen also tends more towards an old Gorgoroth feel, especially with how harsh everything sounds. If Gorgoroth had kept up their original perception of Black Metal the whole time, this is probably where the band would have eventually wound up.

So, if you're a fan of the harsh realms of Black Metal, Behexen is truly a new gem to be watching. I find their style absolutely wonderful and I hope that in following releases things only get better for them. They're definitely off to an excellent start with this release.

Behexen - Blessed be the Darkness
Self-Released, 1998
Genre: Black Metal

1. Saatanan Varjon Synkkyydessä
2. The Flames of the Blasphemer
3. Blessed be the Darkness

"Blessed be the Darkness" is where the more modern incarnation of Behexen begins to rear its ugly head. Here we have the hateful and intense Black Metal the band would become far more known for. I can see why the band would want to release this material as soon as possible and having it follow the first demo in just a year. With only three tracks this demo would get Behexen more recognition in the Black Metal scene. The booklet is pro-printed with a dubbed tape.

Behexen have transitioned away from the slow plodding guitar passages and have gone full force into a fast and hateful style of Black Metal. It seems the band has been listening to a fair amount of Horna, because I get the distinct impression that band is bearing some serious influence on the direction of this band. Rather than going more melancholic, Behexen are trending to a far more raw style of Black Metal. Torog's vocals sound incredible and utterly insane on this release. Reapear's guitar work still bears some of that melancholic style, but recast with this very raw edge and we have a whole different representation of that style. I definitely hope there is a coming full-length in this style, because, as far as I'm concerned, Behexen doesn't need to go through any other evolution.

After this demo, I think we were all looking forward to a full-length from the band, which they eventually gave us. All the tracks from this demo made it onto that recording, which made sense given how good and drastic the bands style change was.

Behexen - Eternal Realm
Self-Released, 1997
Genre: Black Metal

1. Beyond the Dark Graves
2. The Queen of Blood & Lust
3. The Land of the Trolls
4. Eternal Realm
5. Derision for Jesus
6. Outro

If you're coming at Behexen from the perspective of their full-lengths then you're going to be in for quite a shock when visiting their first demo tape. Prior to this the band has one other demo tape from 1995 under the band name Lords of the Left Hand, but I have been unable to track this tape down. I imagine it probably sounds similar to "Eternal Realm" and it wasn't until later that their sound truly changed drastically. It even describes "Eternal Realm" as "demo II" on the cassette. My copy of this is a xeroxed booklet, but I'm actually not sure if I have gotten a bootleg.

For its time "Eternal Realm" is really just revisiting the foundation of material laid from the Norwegian scene, in my opinion. I figure that guitarist Jari being from Norway originally may have something to do with that. The demo opens with a sort of dungeon synth feel similar to what we would hear from the likes of Mortiis. From here their music seems to derive more from the Gehenna or Dimmu Borgir style, but hints of early Satyricon show up in the middle of tracks like "Eternal Realm". I hear some Emperor influence in a decent portion as well, but as you have probably guessed, all the references tend to use keyboards in their music and this Behexen tape is no different. There is a rather large amount of keyboard usage throughout this demo, which does help advance the general atmosphere of the songs. This isn't a blisteringly fast and hateful Black Metal release, instead it  has more of a slower pace and feels more melancholic.

This is certainly an interesting beginning for a band that would later be known for its intensity and overly violent sound. On the wings of the Norwegian scene "Eternal Realm" doesn't have much to offer us. Other bands have basically done this and done it better, but that doesn't stop this from being a decent release in the end. I don't want to give the wrong impression, I actually thought this demo was pretty good. What "Eternal Realm" does seem to show is that the band are competent with writing Black Metal, which is all we can ask when it comes to the demo days a lot of times.

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