Beherit, Demoncy, and Profanatica have released some of the best black metal of the last ten years. Beherit‘s comeback Engram effortlessly slides back into a pre-full blown electronic frame of mind, doing an impressive balancing act between the band’s various incarnations leading into H418; not sounding dated in the least, nor giving consideration to various trends at large, Engram speaks the very syntax of black metal in terms of technique, attitude, and emotion. Epic and confident in its own stoic way, it is the sound of solitude, foreboding and enticing by turn. On the other hand, Demoncy and especially Profanatica, have been relatively consistent over the years with their brand of remorseless black metal of the dungeons; distinctly American in their studied atonality, displaying a grittier, more insular approach to songwriting compared to the earthier, at times mystical, Engram, the triumvirate, nonetheless, reach a crossroads where styles meld to create a shared aesthetic of ritualistic splendor. These bands make black metal that primarily, and proudly, reinforces orthodoxy without having to resort to window dressing for appeal.
Beherit‘s sound has always revolved around first wave black metal of the likes of Hellhammer and Bathory, more steeped in power chords with a casual low string buzzing as accompaniment during the faster sections, endowing the music with a choppier, pronouncedly punctuated pose as opposed to the fluent circular fury of the others’ tremolo-dominant style. Elements from the band’s industrial experimentations have creeped into Engram making it a mix of curious sensibilities, both rustic and inhuman. Folk instruments and choir chants, among other accoutrements, are frequently used with some subtlety, enhancing the ceremonial aspect of the album. Engram feels grand, measured and poised as it is, conveying a monolithic sense of something greater than the self.
Demoncy and Profanatica share many parallels, chief among them being the dependence on overwhelming atmosphere through repetition. Inspired from the same template that spawned Incantation and Havohej, both bands use extremely simple tremolo-picked riffs against a steady unvarying beat, both slowing down to a dirge on occasions as well. But where Demoncy, at first reckoning, give the impression of being slightly more in control in terms of composition, with the individual parts geared towards a coherent whole in mind, Profanatica is the impromptu starburst of chaos threatening to consume all in its path but somehow managing to coalesce around a flimsy core, gradually lending itself more mass with time to finally reach par with their kindred band. Demoncy have a greater melodic nuance to them also; while Ledney chooses to focus on molesting an adjacently placed, close-knit group of notes and occasionally moves them down the neck, Demoncy, somewhat hesitantly, reveal their roots from the days of Within The Sylvan Realms Of Frost when they were an unabashedly Euro-flavored band. Fleeting strains of dark consonance emerge through the almost impenetrable shroud, only to make as hasty a retreat, submitting to the greater shade of night without the slightest dilution in tone.