They’re not part of the bling crowd (unless you count all the pentagrams, spikes and bones they festoon themselves with) and you most definitely won’t ever see them cruising the streets in some souped-up lowrider, but for the better part of 14 years these Finns have been keepin’ it real. Yep, Finand’s BEHEXEN are the real deal, but on “My Soul For His Glory” I’ve begun to notice quite a few chinks in their black armor and I’m not happy….
Have you ever heard “By The Blessing Of Satan”? What an unstoppable Black Metal tour de force that effort was, and definitely one of my top 3 BM albums to have surfaced from the land of the thousand lakes (the other two being HORNA’s “Ääniä Yössä” and SARGEIST’s “Satanic Black Devotion”). “By The Blessing…” album showcased all their strengths in sublime fashion – super fast grinding riffs, painfully mournful slower crunchers, grim atmosphere – you name it, that album has it. On their latest album, however, I notice a distinct lack of vigor. OK, the first two tracks are classic BEHEXEN and that criminally catchy opening riff of “Let The Chaos And Horror Come”, coupled with the very effective cymbal-work is truly something to behold, and so is the melancholy melodies near the end of “Born In The Serpent Of The Abyss”. But from there the album takes a sharp nosedive and things don’t really recover until the somewhat agreeable closing track. There is way too much emphasis on slow to mid-paced tempos, the riffs aren’t particularly catchy (or evil) and Torog’s vocals remain uniformly bland throughout. If you’re hoping to hear those trademark raspy yelps of his you’ll be left severely disappointed, as he opted for a more straightforward Death-like growl this tine around. It almost doesn’t even sound like the same guy.
On “Rituale Satanum” and the aforementioned “By The Blessing Of Satan” this band opened the floodgates to all things raw, grimy, back and disturbing but on this album they are clearly holding back for some reason. It struggles to get going and when it does even the best songs on here can’t hold a candle to their earlier works. It gets better after repeated listens but not by much. The opening track is brilliant yes, but the last two thirds of this album is simply not up to snuff. Four years in the making and this is the best they could come up with?! Satan wasn’t smiling on them, methinks. I’ll just write this off as a temporary misstep.
(Online March 13, 2008)