It’s clear that these compositions were handled through analog recording methods, but there are some notable differences that offer obvious glimpses of superiority as far as growth within the band and their writing style over the years is concerned. There is a huge focus on vocal distortion and buzzing on the guitars that play up the raw angle of the band’s sound in hopes of making the sometimes dark and creepy atmospheres cater to not only the death metal inclusions, but also the influences of bands like Beherit,
While the static horror fueled ambience of “Intro” nicely sets up a nightmarish visage worthy of a Dario Argento or John Carpenter flick from back in the day, what follows in no way lives up to the perpetual darkness you’re left to expect. Shortly after the enthusiastic start of “Black Fur Demoniac” you are overtaken by bass heavy grooves that feel more suiting to a Finntroll album with decent overly distorted gutturals and an annoying buzzing that suits the tone of the song, but that’s about all it does. There’s also a high pitch rasp at times that, due to the distortion, sounds like that chime from an anime when they do a close up on a characters eyes and everything around it get darker to emphasize that particular feature. Had the fuzz on the guitar matched the somewhat deeper bounce of the bass and atmosphere, things might have been better outside the faster closing and random doom metal passage a little earlier.
And then there’s “Woods of the Black Offering”. It’s your standard blastbeat fuelled black/death metal underground offering with one exception: Someone mistook a bee buzzing near a microphone for the guitars. It’s the showcase of how weak the stringed instruments here really are. Outside the eerie slam a bit before the three-minute mark, you wouldn’t know whether to feel intimidated or jump around in a bouncy house between the lighter mood killing buzz effect and rather fun bass output. The vocal distortion and distant drums are what really save this track in any way, as do they with some of the later performances.
Thankfully there is more to this album than just the many negatives. “Crypt of Behezael” has a haunting start similar to the “Intro”, and when the band is at its most enthusiastic is when the music really whips the listener into a frenzy. However, if restrained, we find the duo confusing the strings again, this time replacing the lead riffs of the guitar with what sounds like a kazoo around th minute-and-a-half mark. Sadly they don’t realize the mistake and it appears again during the otherwise decent nordic sounding “Dark Necromancy”, especially in the background riffs at the start.
“Necrolactation Unborn Goat” tries to be more of a ritualistic piece, but is just off the mark for the first half other than the darker environment it does set up. The grooves are fairly unimpressive thanks to the weak buzzing outlined in the prior paragraphs, not to mention the somewhat jovial sound of the bass making this one hard to get into. When the pace picks up, a good amount of this is excusable. But the one song that stands out the most is “Whips of Impurity”, which is surprisingly due to the amount of variety on display. One minute you’re creeping along in a haze somewhere, and the next being assaulted full speed by those in the appropriate lands who see you watching their ceremony, concluding with you as the final offering. Things change so often that it’s hard to let the faults sidetrack you from finding the underlying composition that is struggling to be noticed.
Now, before anyone gets up in a roar, you could argue a lot of these faults are not meant to fall under the whole cult and subterranean moniker, but rather the perverted satanic style. And, well, you’d be right, but that’s not quite what we’re getting here. Sabbat of Behezaël does drop the sexual audio samples from these recordings because, according to the press release, “such an inclusion would have proven to be a distraction on a full-length album, and instead they are replaced with more minutes of the band’s own depraved ceremony.” Given the material seems to still fall into the satanic sexual ritual territory, this decision only adds to the conflict between the band’s initial sound and desire to tread into a darker, more serious black/death metal landscape, something that kind of improves the deeper you get into this release.
It isn’t that Sabbat of Behezaël itself is a bad release. It’s just the victim of maturity outweighing the immaturity. As stated, Perverted Ceremony had strong implications of satanic sexual rituals. Even the press release acknowledges that existence, but you’d assume it the moment you heard the fuzz and bass of this release. Between uninteresting performances, clashing concepts, and terrible tuning/distortion choices, this debut full-length is something that pulls you in every direction until your mind becomes eviscerated by attempting to make sense of it all. There are some good performances beneath all these faults, but when you can’t help but laugh at how an instrument comes off like a bee or a kazoo, or you feel no life in the music itself at times, it’s impossible to enjoy the release, let along be able to recommend it to friends other than to sample the few good songs on the label’s official Bandcamp stream. And yes, this is exactly what I suggest you do if you must hear it for yourself.