No prizes for guessing that BEHEXEN play old school raging Black Metal. From the album's title, the bands logo, even the quite frankly cheesy cover art depicting religious attire on a corpse painted man all screams Black Metal, but is it any good?
First of all I may warn you that if you want experimentation, keyboards, genre expanding moves and great innovation go elsewhere. But if you're longing for another cold grim and evil lo-fi riff then step right up as BEHEXEN do this just about as well as anyone currently playing in today’s Black Metal scene.
The band are by no means newcomers as they've been around virtually since 1994, yet this is only their second album, which to me means that they must have been crafting these songs over time and not rushing out to record and release half assed material, and it certainly works in their favour. Songs are well written, atmospherically effective and very convincing.
The music itself is at different times reminiscent of the likes of early GORGOROTH, MARDUK and a little early BATHORY amongst others, yet it is all very well pieced together making great use of hyper speed tremolo strumming and blast beats as well as great slow arpeggio sections and nice catchy mid paced riffs that sound just about as good as any written by later day DARKTHRONE and most Moonfog bands.
Production is classic Black Metal, yet perfectly balanced with great tones. I really like the guitar and drum sounds and the nice touch of reverb on the vocals. The vocals themselves I'm not overly keen on despite their excellent delivery as too often they're too average in terms of their actual sound. They generally stick to the higher end of Black Metal vocals rather than the classic Nocturno Culto style that I seem to prefer.
Despite that the good by far outweighs the band and "By The Blessing Of Satan" is a worthy addition to any Black Metal collection so don't be afraid to pick this one up. (Online April 18, 2004)