1996, Solstitium Records
This album sits very nicely on my shelf and not just because the name looks very like Bathory [from a distance and in the dark]. These three guys hail from Poland and this 1996 release bears no resemblance to that other well known Polish export Vader. Behemoth are black metal through and through and even though this album is now some 5 years old it still sounds fresh today. A mix of mid-tempo and full throttle tracks make this a worthy listen.
The intro is quite bombastic with timpani type drums and synth before the first song proper vomits forth from the speakers with an evil belch. Both the guitar and bass are sharp to the point of huming like live wires. I especially like the bass sound which seems to be used as the driving engine for both the drum and guitar. The acoustic pieces are well played though could do with a bit of beefing up in the mix. There are definite folksy influences in some of the songs especially where the female vocalist comes in or there is a more monastic chant approach, but overall these fit in quite well. Some songs are lightning fast though the drummer manages to keep this in prespective. Nothing sounds worse than a drummer trying to keep up with the rest of the band. One song, Rising Proudly Towards the Sky has a very discordant solo that sounds totally wrong - I hope this was intentional.
The worst point to this album is the band photos which adorn the booklet. It's the expression of "hot curry fights back" that gets me. Still the lyrics are better than most and all are printed in the booklet which was apparently co-designed by Kreator. The tracks are in sung in English except Lasy Pomorza and Gorm which are sung in their native Polish. I really admire anyone who writes in Polish as it looks totaly unpronouncable to me - my weakness. I would have put the title track of Gorm as one of the best tracks on the album were it not for the female vocals which just don't gel right. They are discordant and the track would be much better off without them.
This is an album I haven't seen talked about much, either on the Web or in zines and I'm not sure why. It is a good, solid black metal album with good production and tight and accomplished musicianship. Not a classic, but well worth a listen.