CD REVIEW Behemoth

Band: Behemoth
Title: Demonica
Label: Metal Blade Records
Distribution: Rough Trade Benelux - Tone
Release date: November 18th 2011 (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), 21st (Europe), 22nd (UK), 24th (North-America)
Review: compilation-DCD (re-release)

For one reason or another, Nergal does not like to talk about the earliest years of Behemoth, and since the old (I’m referring to more than two decades of experience) and the ‘new’ Behemoth indeed do sound completely different, a certain border in between both of them is comprehensible. Yet again, and I might sound like a melancholic gom (grumpy old man – and I am not that old yet, you know), the glorious past is what inspired me, and the whole scene as well, for f*ck’s sake… And this certainly goes for Polish horde Behemoth. Of course everyone knows what this band sounds like nowadays. And you cannot deny it: within their specific category -let’s call it a hyper-technical form of Death Metal, if you want to- Behemoth belong to the top. But for this, I must refer to one of the reviews on this band’s later stuff, posted on this metallic site during different occasions… But not everyone knows Behemoth’s sound during the earliest years. All right, there are different compilations and re-releases in mean time, so almost everything is available; yet still… And I was, and still am, completely ‘into it’.
Anyway, this compilation is, as a matter of fact, a re-release as well. It got originally exposed in 2006 through Regain Records, and now it’s Metal Blade Records’ turn to make mon…, excuse me, to re-release it within a ‘limited’ (10,000 copies on digi-CD, and a 525 on gatefold-vinyl) edition with inclusion of an exclusive digi / slipcase with a 44-page booklet. It consists of demo songs, previously unreleased compositions, and some covers tracks.

As a matter of fact, Demonica includes the two demos (originally: demo tapes) Return Of The Northern Moon (partly in another order) and From The Pagan Vastlands, both of them bringing a very fine form of rather ‘typical’ Black Metal (at least back then), in an open-minded way comparable to the likes of (very generally seen) Darkthrone, Bathory, Satyricon or Samael – the latter sometimes of huge, almost undeniable influence (listen, for example, to these semi-copied riffs and rhythms in Rise Of The Blackstorm Of Evil)! In contradiction to many bands those days (especially from the south of Europe, I have to add), the quality was (is) strongly above average. Not only the addition of soundscapes and synth-parts was a surplus; also the grandiose song writing and skilled performance were unique. Return … (opening the first disc) was massive in its totality, but …Vastlands (which does start the second disc) brought a pretty unique approach (warning: nevertheless extremely influenced / inspired by the Norwegian scene), combining their initial approach with more experiment (yet certainly not of the progressive kind) and a magisterial epic approach, which does characterise the band’s first full lengths too, as you (might) know.

Some tracks are re-recorded versions of older songs (unreleased though), and the never-officially released songs on Demonica are a worthy part of this compilation as well, for sure. I just wonder why Transylvanian Forest’s re-recording was included on this double-album…
The compilation also includes a couple of cover tracks, and I like them. Aggressor by Hellhammer, to start with, which comes close to the original, and which gets played with the same persuasion and intensity; or Mayhem’s legendary track Deathcruch, in a really satisfying version!

Do I need to mention the primitive (read: underground-oriented) sound quality? No, I do not need to, for I just want to make sure it does fit perfectly to this kind of Sonic Beauty!

---/100

Ivan Tibos.