Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Behexen - Eternal Realm [DEMO] (1997)

Eternal Realm is the first demo from this Finnish cult as Behexen (they released one demo under their previous name Lords of the Left Hand), and it's quite surprising if you're only familiar with their more savage, later full length offerings. There is a heavy use of keyboards on this demo to serve as both sweeping orchestration and a clarion herald of devastation, but it interacts well with the band's primitive riffing and creates a good atmosphere.

Whereas the band would later adopt a more strict, Satanic theme to their music, this early writing had a slant towards Norse lore, warfare and seduction. "Beyond the Dark Graves" is a synthesizer intro with some rather serious sounding tones, both ominous and majestic. "The Queen of Blood & Lust" uses the synth like a horn section on a plain of battle, and the riffs here are quite good in a post-Hellhammer, black thrashing sense. Torog's vocals are best at their fuller, dark range, though his voice occasionally cracks into a witch-like cackle. "The Land of the Troll" is nearly 8 minutes in length, an epic track inspired by the work of Bathory but with much more use of the keys. I enjoyed the breaks to acoustic and basslines, and this is honestly a worthwhile Viking metal tune. "Eternal Realm" also features some breaks to acoustics with flute accompaniment, but when its at its raunchy fastest it reminds me the most of the direction Behexen would later force with such albums as Rituale Satanum and By the Blessing of Satan. "Derision for Jesus" is once again epic, using the intoning of bells and churning of lethal pipe organs to drive it's slower rhythmic crawl, though the song picks up in pace later to become a bestial onslaught of lower splatter vox alongside Torog's natural snarl.

Eternal Realm is a demo, so of course it lacks some polish in the production department. But if you're already accustomed to the band's lo-fi, punishing albums, this deviates little from the norm, and frankly, it is the rough polish which gives the work much of its charm. This is really the only case where Behexen would use so much of an 'epic metal' influence to their writing, adopting a more abrasive, straight black style as early as the next demo, Blessed be the Darkness. But this made for a strong start, and a nice footnote, to a solid career.

Verdict: Win [7.5/10]


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