Released: 2009, Spinefarm Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
"Because, I just hate this fuckin´ world…". This is how Nuclear Holocausto Vengeance (aka Marko Laiho) states rather phlegmatically in the opening track "Axiom Heroine" of Beherit´s comeback album, titled ENGRAM; this legendary Finnish black metal band´s 5th album after 14 years of absence.
Yes, Beherit is back, and their return and new album ENGRAM have already divided people to 3 categories actually: To those who are somewhat strongly overwhelmed by this cult-ish black metal act´s return to the scene, to the suspicious people who only see this as another worthless comeback - and then to those people who really don´t have any opinion of their own whether they feel an urgent need to masturbate while listening the album.
As for the line-up on ENGRAM, besides N.H.V., it consists of a long time Beherit drummer Sodomatic Slaughter (aka Jari Pirinen) - with the addition of Ancient Corpse Desekrator (Sami Tenetz, the masterbrain behind Thy Serpent) and Abyss, Twisted Baptizer (aka Pasi Kolehmainen, ex-Chaosweaver, MDD). The common thing for these guys is when listening to Beherit´s latest collection of grim, dark and even avantgarde-ish (in a nice way) and epic black metal tunes on ENGRAM, they have really had a good and well planned vision and goal about everything how they wanted ENGRAM to sound like. I mean, ENGRAM isn´t any straight continuum to any previous Beherit albums, but sort of a collection of Beherit´s earlier works on THE OATH OF BLACK BLOOD and DRAWING DOWN THE MOON, but added with some more experimental yet avantgarde-ish elements that hark back to some sort of Burzum-ism, I think.
For the fans of THE OATH OF BLACK BLOOD, there are songs like "Destroyer of Thousand Worlds" and "All in Satan" on ENGRAM, displaying the times of that primitive and raw sounding Beherit, but with a better sound and overall production. I´m sure the fans of old Beherit style will definitely love those songs, no doubts. N.H.V.´s vocal style is also something that makes the Beherit fans pleased. He sounds like he has transformed himself into a form of a wicked demon that is after your flesh and soul.
“Pimeyden Henki" ("The Spirit of Darkness" if some of you are curios about the song title) and “Suck My Blood”, on the other hand could well be those songs that never ended up on Beherit´s most appreciated work, DRAWING DOWN THE MOON album due to being just a teeny-weeny different compared to the rest of the material on it. But the same dark atmosphere and the intensity and simplicity of the songs is the same. In fact, “Suck My Blood” could as well be an unreleased The Lord Diabolus song; a little side perversion of Mr. N.H.V.
Then they have got a slow number like “Pagan Moon” – with the church bells effect that provides a really creepy feeling to the song. However, it´s the last song “Demon Advance” on ENGRAM that should really grab the listener´s attention. “Demon Advance” is a very epic and somewhat experimental song, clocking in at the 15-minute mark – and just being one hell of an epic piece of work that one couldn´t expect from a band like Beherit at all – despite their last couple of albums being full of ´ambient ritual music´. It´s a pretty hypnotic and kinda dreamlike song all in all, but starts to drag a little bit toward the end. It´s not bad by any means, but it probably would have been wiser to cut a couple of minutes away from it to make it just a little bit tighter because a 15-minute Beherit song sounds like sheer utopia, doesn´t it?
With all my very skeptical thoughts and expectations that I had toward ENGRAM in advance, I´m glad to say Beherit has made a great comeback album after all. It will probably never reach the same popularity among the Beherit fans as Beherit´s THE OATH and DRAWING DOWN albums, but nothing still changes the fact ENGRAM is that Beherit album that people silently hoped for them to record deep down back in their minds. So congratulations Beherit for blessing us with this strong effort to reawaken the legacy of Beherit once again - and in such an impressive way as you certainly did.