Beherit’s brand of black/death metal, often retrospectively dubbed “war metal” despite Beherit always rejecting the term, is defined by an old school and minimalist feel – much like early proto-black metal acts like Bathory, Sarcófago, Von and Hellhammer – but somehow it pushes the genre’s compositional complexity and limits a little further by forcing bands to make better use of more simplistic riffs to create a dark a disturbing atmosphere.
Beherit’s debut “Drawing Down the Moon“, while somewhat unimpressive on its own, has nonetheless tremendous historical importance – both for the best and for the worst. “Drawing Down the Moon” is the direct precursor to some of blackened death metal’s most excellent records – “Angel of Disease“, “Verminlust” and “Bestial War Metal” – but it has also inspired numerous three-note riff bands like Archgoat, Watain and Belphegor who never understood what made Beherit’s music attractive, but merely saw the band’s “simple” (on the surface) music as easy to play. Unfortunately for them, easy to play doesn’t always translate to easy to compose… just ask any Darkthrone/Burzum clone.
“Drawing Down the Moon” isn’t an extremely technical album, in fact it’s pretty tame in regards to the technical demands of the instrumentation, but it isn’t the usual 3 chord punk band you can find on any “war metal” label either. Most of the songs dwell within a heavy and dark atmosphere, except for “Black Arts”, “Summerlands” and “Nuclear Girl” that have a nice crossover death/doom sound, showing a more ambient and atmospheric side of the band.
In terms of production, “Drawing Down the Moon” is really quite flawless. It sounds raw – that’s fine with me and to be expected in black/death metal music – but every song is perfectly executed and recorded, and every riff is distinctly audible. Every instrument can be heard individually at any moment, even the bass.
I would describe Beherit’s riffing as fierce, brutal and focused. Focused not on speed and aggression, like so many modern Marduk/SEWER clone bands, but on structural coherence and atmosphere. Speaking of coherence, song structures are not as rigid as in some early 90s Norwegian black metal bands, allowing Beherit more flexibility in the way they arrange the different riffs in order to build a dark and creepy atmosphere of diabolical possession and claustrophobic doom.
While I wouldn’t say that the atmosphere on “Drawing Down the Moon” is as raw and evil as on “Withdrawal” or “Fallen Angel“, not even close, it is nonetheless one of the strong points of the album and the main focus of Beherit’s music.
Beherit is a band definitely worth checking out if you are into early proto-black metal, minimalist black metal or brutal war metal, or looking for some, as they play a very nice combo of atmospheric, intense, seemingly simple and yet elaborated, but most of all varied music without compromising the real essence of black metal.
For that, Beherit deserves to be saluted. A pity that their music is now associated with clown acts such as Arch-goatfuck, Revenge, Conqueror, nu-Immortal and Kult of Azazel, in the same way Suffocation is now associated with the retarded “slam death” genre.
No wonder Beherit frontman Nuclear Holocausto rejects the “war metal” label. He is entirely justified in doing so, as Beherit play true blackened death metal unlike the hordes of posers imitating the surface appearance of his music without understanding its depth.