Beherit – Celebrate the Dead (2012)
Have you been following the narrative of Invisible Blog? If so, you’ll note my affinity for electronic music predated my affinity for metal music, but you’ll also realize that combining the two does much to spur my interest. Celebrate the Dead enjoys perhaps a tinge of the former and definitely sounds more like the latter, but if you had to sell it to your friends, you could capture at least some crucial aspect of it by telling them it’s like (not necessarily equivalent to) what would happen if a group like Massive Attack tried their hand at metal, and if you worked for Kvlt Records (who released this), they might very well appreciate that…
It might be marginally more accurate to think about Beherit as the opposite of our marketing description, since they approach electronica from a metallic perspective, but it’s worth noting Celebrate the Dead is driven entirely by founding member Marko Laiho, the band’s resident psychonaut (at least judging by the existence of his electronic side projects), and that its actual recording and writing predated that of Engram, the band’s 2009 full length. Either way, the end product is sluggish, abrasive, and extremely heavy on atmosphere, with lots of tiny variations over a ridiculously repetitive framework. The mood and thought altering capacities of this record are not to be underestimated sober, but I do not have the access to psychoactive substances I would need in order to further explore that subject… and I’d rather not get arrested for possessing and trafficking such things.
The actual disc isn’t actually that unified in retrospect, as the sharper attack of “Demon Advance” stands in contrast to the more subdued title track. The trebles of its production were what first tipped me off, and as a notable surface element, I would be a fool to not pick up on it. It also has a greater, harsher, growled vocal presence. I’d say it demands more of the user’s initial attention, but in general I find it less endearing and memorable than its partner. Its superstructure ends up more cyclic in comparison to “Celebrate the Dead” (the track as opposed to the whole), which also showcases a lengthy outro of synthesizers and multitracked clean singing. It seems a question of mixing; returning to the “electronica meets metal” salespitch, I think I could say with a clean conscience that “Demon Advance” relies more on the metal tropes and “Celebrate the Dead” leans on them less, but the halves simply differ more in writing than instrumentation.
Criticisms aside, you need this album in your collection without reservations.
Highlights: “In an album composed of only two tracks, choosing three or four that best represent it is but a fool’s errand,” he snarled, spitting on the floor for emphasis.