Behemoth – And the Forests Dream Eternally
Recommendation: ✂ (“Pure Evil and Hate”)
Before becoming a household name in modern death metal, Polish group Behemoth was a straight-up black metal act with volkisch tendencies. And the Forests Dream Eternally is the band’s first EP – following four demos and full-length Seventevith (Storming Near the Baltic). More so than now, Behemoth was pretty much synonymous with frontman Nergal, for whom Behemoth has been his main creative outlet, and it shows in the credits for this release: Nergal performed vocals, guitars, and bass on all tracks, and he recorded the drums for “Forgotten Empire of Dark Witchcraft”. Bandmate Baal performed drums on the other four tracks – he would leave the band following the release of Grom in 1996 – and other member Frost performed additional guitars. For all intents and purposes, And the Forests Dream Eternally is Nergal through and through.
The EP’s twenty-five minutes are the same as can be found on the full-length: lo-fi black metal played in the style of the Norwegians with some midtempo moments (e.g. “Moonspell Rites”) that gives the songs a lost-in-a-medieval-forest affect. “Transylvanian Forest” and “Moonspell Rites” appear for the second time, having previously been recorded for the full-length and demo Thy Winter Kingdom respectively. “Forgotten Empire if Dark Witchcraft” significantly features non-distorted electric guitars, which would influence bands such as Cobalt (see Gin), creating a layer of solemnity also found on early EPs from Carpathian Forest and Abigor. Confusingly, this EP features a track titled “Sventevith (Storming Near the Blatic)”, which did not appear on the identically-titled full-length. It’s the fastest son on the EP, with a strong descending triad on the rhythm guitars and a suitably garbled vocal performance by Nergal.
But there’s one track that stands out among the rest. “Pure Evil and Hate” is three minutes of black/thrash metal, and it is an absolute ripper. The song features a punky atmosphere that deserves a nod to Motörhead, and it incorporates an irreligious fuck-all attitude that characterized the very first Bathory and Hellhammer recordings – which fits given that Behemoth covered the latter artist on the Return of the Northern Moon demo. The bass is strong and crunchy, owing to the Motörhead influence. This track is one of the strongest of Behemoth’s entire career, and it’s a hidden gem of second-wave black metal. If there’s any single track that’s absolutely worth grabbing in the early Behemoth discography, it’s this one – especially if you’re not quite at the point where you can get into the lo-fi aesthetics of black metal demos.
1. Transylvanian Forest – (5:35)
2. Moonspell Rites – (6:00)
3. Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic) – (5:58)
4. Pure Evil and Hate – (3:07)
5. Forgotten Empire of Dark Witchcraft – (4:11)