Friday, October 5, 2012

Behemoth - And the Forests Dream Eternally (1994)

Offered up in August 1994, And the Forests Dream Eternally is the first official release from Behemoth. This E.P. shows the band's continued development, as they got deeper into the underground and learned of more bands to mimic. That appears to be the case as, though some minor improvements have been made, this still suffers from a total lack of originality. The material still suffers from a certain level of inconsistency and comes off as being rather generic, but it was a step in the right direction.

Musically, one gets the feeling that Behemoth went beyond their Emperor collection when writing these songs. It would seem that they began listening to a bit of Darkthrone and Immortal, by this point, as some hints of those bands and even a filtered Bathory influence is detectable. This is most clearly heard on "Moonspell Rites", a more mid-paced track that features a fairly epic guitar solo. The solos found on this E.P. help add something to the music and reminds that Black Metal could still benefit from the inclusion of such things. "Pure Evil and Hate" shows the band reaching back to the '80s and incorporating more of a Motörhead approach into things, though one must wonder if they were listening to any old bands or simply picked up on the same influences from more contemporary sources. The songwriting is much more interesting but really seems to be all over the place, with a lack of consistency from one track to the next. The band's youth and inexperience is still showing through, at this point. It almost sounds as if each song was written by a separate band. The differences are subtle enough that it is not a major concern, but it is something that many will likely pick up on. However, the overall quality of the riffs is higher than before, with most of these songs actually able to create a cold and dark feeling. Though as Behemoth put forth more effort in writing the music, other things were neglected. For one, Nergal's vocals took a turn for the worse and sound more puked than before. His voice was just fine on ...From the Pagan Vastlands and needed no change. Here, it just comes off as overly strained.

The production shows a bit of improvement, as the guitars finally possess a little bit of a rough edge. One of the key weaknesses of the previous demo was the soft and subdued guitar tone. It is commendable that they were able to recognize this flaw and to avoid repeating the same mistake. Unfortunately, such attention was not given to the remaining elements. The drum sound is awful, with the snare seeming particularly hollow. With this being too loud in the mix, it tends to distract from the guitars, at times. This is more of an issue during the faster parts. Also worthy of complaint is the bass guitar. It is far too noticeable and should have been lower in the mix. It adds this irritating rumble that does absolutely nothing to add to the atmosphere.

And the Forests Dream Eternally is a rather successful E.P. in that it shows Behemoth making some improvements. The end result is still a bit generic and lacks a true sense of cohesiveness, but it has its moments. The band still seems unable to do anything particularly original and to put their own stamp on the music, but that does not mean that it is not enjoyable, at times. Sadly for them, they never truly found their own identity as musicians and continued floating from one style to another, though gaining more notoriety as they later found the right trend to hop on. With this release, one can look back and see what might have been.