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Behemoth – Sventevith (Storming Near The Baltic) (Reissue)

Sventevith (Storming Near The Baltic) (Reissue)
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 18 October 2021, 6:47 AM

BEHEMOTH is an extreme metal band from Poland who formed in 1991.  Although they initially played black metal, over time they switched to a more death metal sound but still retained blackened elements.  After releasing four demos, the band released their full length album, “Sventevith (Storming Near The Baltic)” upon the world in 1995.

Flash forward to 2021, and Metal Blade Records has reissued the album on CD and VINYL, which includes second disc of bonus tracks with four unreleased studio tracks and seven live tracks. Those just familiar with their more modern works, (anything from 1999 and onward, for sake of clarity), will find quite a different beast with this debut album. Although it certainly has plenty of atmosphere, much of the album is straight up black metal on the more traditional side than anything. The production isn't the worst I've heard but it also isn't doing the album any favors. The bass is so buried that it might as well not even be there. At times, mixing gets so cluttered that the drums come off as noise and the guitars nothing more than static.

But Nergal's songwriting, still at its infancy at this point, does have moments of clarity that foreshadow the power house this band grows into. "Chant Of The Eastern Lands," is a strong opener for the most part. I like the mix of electric and acoustic guitars as it adds a sense of refinement to the proceedings. Nergal's vocals are the typical blackened shrieks. His performance is serviceable but definitely not as good as future performances. The rest of the song is solid but kind of just barrels its way through. This is a fitting track for an album opener, but that is about all.

The next track "The Touch Of Nya" is a short instrumental that feels very much out of place. For me, it would sound better as part of another track or perhaps an intro. As it stands now, it is just filler. "From The Pagan Vastlands," is an energetic song even if the production and mixing makes it sound like a confusing train wreck in places. The keyboards have a subtle but welcomed dimension to the song. Some of the album's better riffs are on display here especially the groove in the song's mid section.

The momentum of the album is once again killed by a short interlude. "Ancient" adds absolutely nothing to the flow other than to keep me from getting to "Entering the Faustian Soul," sooner. This is an excellent song and my favorite on the album. The ethnic style guitar adds in wonderfully placed melody into the song structure. How the song goes from these moments to outright blackened speed and brutality is a blast and shows hints of what the future will bring for the band.

The last track, "Hell Dwells In Ice," is an instrumental that ends the album perfectly. The spoken word gives it an arcane feeling to the somber melody. As far as buying this goes, if you already own the original there is no real reason to purchase this.  The bonus album, while interesting with well done live tracks, isn’t essential. With that being said, this just means this is the same kick ass album as before but it still pales in comparison to later works.   I much prefer the more modern sound of BEHEMOTH but it’s hard to deny the raw, hungry power on display here by a band who was vicious even in their early days.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Disc 1

1. Chant of the Eastern Lands
2. The Touch of Nya
3. From the Pagan Vastlands
4. Hidden in a Fog
5. Ancient
6. Entering the Faustian Soul
7. Forgotten Cult of Aldaron
8. Wolves Guard My Coffin
9. Hell Dwells in Ice

Disc 2

1. Cursed Angel of Doom
2. Dark Triumph
3. Bless Thee for Granting Me Pain (Helevorn, 1994)
4. Hell Dwells in Ice (Helevorn, 1994)
5. Hidden in a Fog (Live)
6. From the Pagan Vastlands (Live)
7. Hidden in a Fog (Live)
8. Wolves Guard My Coffin (Live)
9. Hidden in a Fog (Live)
10. From the Pagan Vastlands (Live)
11. Hidden in a Fog (Live)
Nergal – Vocals, Guitars, Bass
Baal Ravenlock - Drums
Record Label: Metal Blade Records


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