Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Behexen - Rituale Satanum (2000)

The most unfortunate thing about Behexen's debut album, Rituale Satanum, is that it emerged about seven or eight years too late. Released by Sinister Figure in July 2000, this L.P. has a great deal in common with the early-to-mid '90s output from the Norwegian Black Metal scene. In many ways, Behexen picked up from where Gorgoroth left off, as they traveled down a mediocre path and left their trademark sound behind, this Finnish band carried on the legacy of Pentagram and Antichrist.

The music features a lot of ideas similar to those that were explored on the aforementioned Gorgoroth full-lengths. There is the utilization of a good number of fast tremolo-picked riffs that owe a lot to Darkthrone and Mayhem, while also employing some open chord sections reminiscent of Burzum. In addition, a healthy does of Thrash is injected, here and there, hearkening back to the early songwriting of Infernus, who seems to have influenced Gargantum's guitar-playing. This also includes the tendency to toss in rather epic melodies. If that was not enough, Hoath Torog's vocals are very similar to Hat and Pest, being very high-pitched and nearly indecipherable. There are some instances of deeper vocals being added as well, which is quite unnecessary and taints the songs a bit. Most all of the songs are dominated by a fast tempo, up until "Saatanan Varjon Synkkyydessä", which slows things down a little. Even as the drumming picks up, the riffs are still mid-paced and possess a morbid feeling. Still, the Norwegian feeling is present for the most part. "Baphomet's Call" is where the material takes on more of a Finnish sound, bearing similarities to Horna.

This record has fairly decent production. It suits the style, though there is something disingenuous about it. The guitars are the most prominent element in the mix, which is dead on, but the distortion does not seem right. The fuzziness appears to be coming more from the bass than the guitar, and it is a little too loud. This helps to add to the raw sound, but it gives off more of a feeling that they were trying to get a grim sound with nice equipment, rather than recording in a truly lo-fi manner. The drums are loud enough to do the job, but kept in the middle where they are not able to interfere with the riffs. The vocals are slightly buried, but this probably helps a lot since one cannot really tell what Torog is saying anyway, and it cannot be said enough that the riffs should always be the most important thing in Metal.

Rituale Satanum is a solid record and is a must-have for anyone that was saddened to see Gorgoroth degenerate the way that they did, after their first few records. This has just about everything that one would want in a follow-up to Under the Sign of Hell, just at a slightly lower level of quality. This beats anything that the other Finnish bands, such as Horna and Clandestine Blaze, were up to at this point. This L.P. really does not offer up anything new or original, but for those that are into the Norwegian sound, this should be a great addition to your collection.