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Beherit - Engram

Beherit - Engram
January 21, 2011, 08:51:32 PM
Listening to this recently made me go through the Beherit career catalog. Interestingly, it parallels metal as a whole: first aesthetic innovation, then putting structure to it, then going another level. I think this is why Engram strikes me as so profound: it's on the way to something greater than black metal as we know it.

Oath of Black Blood: I don't actually like this album much. It's a sonic mess that conveys a basic urgency and darkness, but not much else. Still, Beherit figured out their basic approach:compelling, ultra-simple riffs and non-linear (but often nearly binary) song structures.

Drawing Down the Moon: To this formula they add a little bit of death metal, namely abrupt tempo changes combined with surprising riff changes. The use of a bass-heavy (same production as Belial EPs) sound with lots of grit more than distortion in a clean environment, and exploiting the vocals and vocal dynamics in interesting ways, made this an epic WTF-savant album.

Hiv40u812.c Must make something different. First try at ambient is too gimmicky/demonstrative, too conceptual and not musical enough.

Electric Doom Synthesis: They take the instrumentation from the previous album, give it the DDTM treatment, and make a light-footed but hard-hitting album. Good stuff. Perhaps their best so far.

Archgoat split: back to primal and raw riffing, with added sound effects and experimentation of layer on the linear. Still, good, but not great.

Engram: DDTM bested in terms of atmosphere, but subtler, so harder to grasp. Epic song ends it all. Beginning track is weirdly evocative of meditation. I like this album because it is more than it appears to be on all levels, yet does so by being exactly what it appears to be. The level of quirk and pander is very low. Needs the death metal inspired tempo/riff breaks and weirdness of DDTM, but in most cases, the riffs themselves are more grown-up (find a good synonym, sure) here. Really an evolution on DDTM and EDS, but with more of their intensity and atmosphere, could go even farther.

HIgh hopes for the future.

Re: Beherit - Engram
January 22, 2011, 01:30:21 AM
Hah, I should post-humously apologize since on my banned account I spat all over this album at first.

I was very slow on the uptake with one, as the minimalistic "80s throwback" style of the riffing was a put-off at first. But the structure, and subtle detail is outstanding on this one. Aesthetic mostly takes a backseat, and the focus is on the ritualistic energy (which was admittedly always the case with this band).

What it does successfully is take something from each of his previous successes and weave them into a modern masterpiece. Listening to his career in chronological order is where this started making sense.

Easily Top 15 of all Black Metal for me.

For sheer quantity of quality releases Beherit is the most prolific band in all of Metal (EDS, DDtM and now Engram are undisputed classics).

Re: Beherit - Engram
January 22, 2011, 07:44:17 AM
Needs the death metal inspired tempo/riff breaks and weirdness of DDTM

Yes, while it's evolutionary and bustling with an energy waiting to be expanded upon, its maturity has led to a marked decrease in spontaneity causing it to sound a bit 'scripted' in its use of traditional metal technique (though I think this is much more of a problem for recent Profanatica). The thing I notice all through Beherit compositions is it maintains a balance between careful design (as found in ambient structures) and honest spontaneous expression. I think coming back to metal after centuries of studying soundwaves also took it's toll but added a profound understanding of structure at the molecular level. New material would be awesome.

Re: Beherit - Engram
January 22, 2011, 07:45:43 AM
I like [Engram] because it is more than it appears to be on all levels, yet does so by being exactly what it appears to be.
Exactly. This may be the most subtle album yet in all of metal. I too would say Electric Doom Synthesis is their (er, his) best, but Engram is still in the same category quality-wise, and their best metal album.

Needs the death metal inspired tempo/riff breaks and weirdness of DDTM...
When I try to imagine this, it seems like it would have only damaged the album; as it is, the purity with which it achieves what it does is untouched. Not to say that it couldn't be effectively incorporated in whatever they make next, since it would (based on their discography so far) have its own character apart from their other releases.