Seven Gates of Hell, 1996/2006
Genre: Black Metal
1. Wieki Ciemne
2. Zbuntowany Anioł
3. Gniew Demona
5. Święte Ognie
7. Błędny Dekalog
8. Ostatnia Łza
I am reviewing the re-release of Besatt's demo from 1996. It was finally repressed on CD, but only limited to 300 copies. This is sort of a shame because this is an extremely different sound for Besatt. I am quite used to the vicious and blisteringly intense Besatt in the more modern form, so I never would have guessed they got started like this.
This is actually very difficult to describe, because it is actually quite a different sound for the time it came out. It's so different, I am, in fact, hesitant to call this Black Metal. The only riff that sounds truly Black Metal doesn't show up until "Ostatnia Łza" and it is the only riff in that song like that. So what is it? I've had to listen to this a few times to try and lock down an explanation that might make any sense. This, to me, is on the verge of being Blackened Doom or even full on Dark Metal. I would actually liken this to being similar to Bethlehem, minus the heart wrenching vocal performance from Landfemann. I think this is a fairly apt comparison, even though the bands sound different enough where I would never say Besatt was trying to copy Bethlehem. However, Besatt's use and interplay of the clean guitar passages within their music just sounds like such a Bethlehem thing to do. The major difference between the two is that Besatt has a lot more melody within their music, whereas Bethlehem sounds outright somber and depressive. Besatt seems to blend that Bethlehm idea with some melody ideas found in My Dying Bride or Paradise Lost. It actually generates a rather unique listen.
I guess the one major complaint I would have for this is the guitar tone feels really thin. So when Besatt tries to use some crunching palm muted parts it doesn't sound that powerful. I feel like this sort of hurts the presentation a little bit. The pacing of the music is quite slow, so a much heavier guitar tone would have made the songs sound a bit more powerful at least. Despite that the production on this is actually fairly good. I don't know if they brought the original demo in for remastering because the booklet doesn't say, but I imagine some re-mastering has taken place.
Despite this description the pictures throughout this release are totally Black Metal. So even at these early stages I assume Besatt would identify themselves as a Black Metal band. Listening to "Czarci Majestat" does make me wonder how Besatt's career would have changed if they stuck with this style. I am not complaining, I quite enjoy what Besatt evolved into, but it makes me wonder how things would have turned out if they had progressed along this path.
In the end I am don't feel blown away by this, it is more of an historical oddity that I greatly appreciate having been able to hear. I don't think the overall writing is strong enough to keep me coming back and listening to this over and over. I feel that other bands have pulled this off better and maybe if Besatt had stuck with this style I would prefer that. However, Besatt evolved into a great Black Metal band and their writing is much stronger in later releases, so I will almost always choose those over this demo.