|Black Metal, Death Metal
Metal Blade Records
June 7th, 2011
Release length: 1:13:35
Disc one starts this compilation off with the North American pressing of Conjuration. The initial run of this CD featured only seven tracks, which included the Behemoth original “Conjuration ov Sleep Daemons”, two cover songs, and four live tracks. However, in the U.S., the EP actually came with a total of ten songs, allowing for three extra live tracks. Those extra songs are available on this pressing, allowing people outside of the U.S. to hear the live songs for the first time if they never have before. “Conjmuration vo Sleep Daemons” actually doesn’t come off the album Zos Kia Cultus, which this EP follows shortly after the release of. It’s an interesting track that has more of a ritualistic vibe to the music when the Black Metal aspect of the band’s sound really shows through, though much of it just has that Death Metal aggression and commanding vocal approach with plenty of changes to the flow of the music throghout the recording. It’s not the greatest song Behemoth could have recorded, but it definitely retains their general aggression at that time. Of course, you also get “Wish”, a Nine Inch Nails cover song, and “Welcome to Hell”, another cover by of the band Venom. Both are made to capture the general Behemoth sound but still resemble the originals, and even the vocals are performed differently. Some harmonizations appear during “Wish” to capture the Industrial vocal performance on the original, and “Welcome to Hell” shows Nergal trying to bring that first wave Black Metal sound to the mix, but in the end don’t work at all, leading to an alright cover, but nothing too spectacular.
While the three studio tracks are just alright, the live songs really drive the need of this EP home. These live tracks are just full of raw, unaltered energy from the band, and you really get to experience the energy the band has on stage, at least through the audio. While the original four tracks that appear on the initial pressing would have had some slightly skipping in the audio between the songs, for this edition, all six songs are clearly from the band’s set, and seem to run in from one song to another without any signs that a song from the performance has been omitted. It’s also just nice to have the additional songs on here aside the continuity factor, as the live version of “From the Pagan Vastlands” just rips away at the listener from start to finish, “Lamb” just has a more dark and primal sound to it that fans are going to absolutely enjoy, but “Satan’s Sword (I Have Become)” isn’t that great an entry to this live set, and seems more like it was meant as filler. Even the crowd doesn’t give a strong reaction to the performance of that song. In fact, all of these live recordings actually sound a lot strong, more energetic, and just generally much more aggressive then their original studio recorded versions. These U.S. only tracks make a nice addition to the original four live tracks, and all together make it one amazing live set from Behemoth.
The second disc is one that more fans probably already have considering the popularity of Behemoth suddenly boomed around the time of it’s original release thanks to the CD the title track of the Slaves Shall Serve EP came from, being Demigod. The EP features the album version of the single “Slaves Shall Serve”, which has become a fan favorite by many, and one of the bands more impressive outputs in the Black/Death Metal style. It also includes the original recording “Entering the Pylon ov Light”, which really isn’t all that great a track and just has the same feeling of a filler track that “Conjuration ov Sleep Daemons” honestly had, as well as a cover of the track “Penetration”, originally by The Nephilim, which is just an intense song from start to finish and has more of a modern Symphonic Black Metal feel to it in the vein Emperor that really feels like it was handled with great care by Behemoth, as well as a cover of the Danzig track “Until You Call On the Dark”, which is another solid unoriginal recording that shows a good deal of respect to Danzig‘s original, though the general atmosphere of that song doesn’t really feel captured well on this recording.
And, again, like the live tracks off Conjuration, this EP features two live songs, and they feel more intense then the original studio version. The only one of the two initial live tracks that doesn’t quite is the live version of “Slaves Shall Serve”, and that’s more in the vocals since the distortion used on the studio recording really makes the song, but overall the energy and intimidating primal fury of the live tracks on this disc, and the first disc of this compilation show a stronger band live then one you would find in the studio. But, those are the initial two live recordings. For this release, two additional live tracks have been added to the second disc. A new live recording of “Lam” appears on this disc, which again doesn’t quite feel like the strongest live track for the band. “As Above So Below” has a strong heaviness to it, but again it just doesn’t quite feel like one of the band’s strongest tracks to perform live, or to even record and slap on as bonus material. The songs are good, but given the amount of songs the band has to perform live, and all the tracks they could have chosen from at a live performance, these two just don’t really give much of a kick to the compilation, and leave the listener feeling slightly cheated.
So, what it all really boils down to is content. While the originals are still available in some ways, and the prices can vary, this version does offer the initial U.S. bonus tracks for Conjuration, which makes it a plus to purchase for anyone outside of the U.S. when this is released worldwide. However, if you own both EPs, then what’s the point? Well the larger selling focus is the addition of the live tracks on disc two of “Lam” and “As Above So Below”, but there’s already a recording of “Lam” live, and once is enough, two versions of the song performed live isn’t really necessary, and “As Above So Below” just doesn’t really pack much of an impact that the live songs on disc one for Conjuration have by any means, or even the live tracks on disc two for Slaves Shall Serve, and those two live tracks don’t have much energy behind them either. It’s like the additional live songs are more of a downgrade with the less-then-fantastic songs being more intricate and technically focused then a raw and energetic performance, especially with the one you can tell fans didn’t really like at the start of the compilation’s live material. In any event, it becomes more a judgement call. Are you a devoted fan who has to have it? Or are you satisfied with the original pressings? Do you want to hear “Lam” and “As Above So Below” from a recent live recording? That’s basically what it breaks down to. Of course, if you don’t own them and you’re a fan, now’s your chance.
Disc One: Conjuration
01. Conjuration ov Sleep Daemons – 3:25
02. Wish (Nine Inch Nails cover) – 3:38
03. Welcome to Hell (Venom cover) – 3:15
04. Christians to the Lions (Live) – 3:50
05. Decade ov Therion (Live) – 3:48
06. From the Pagan Vastlands (Live) – 3:38
07. Antichristian Phenomenon (Live) – 5:06
08. Lam (Live) – 4:25
09. Satan’s Sword (I Have Become) (Live) – 4:04
10. Chant for Ezkaton 2000 (Live) – 6:50
Disc Two: Slaves Shall Serve
|Overall Score: 6.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records.