Perverted Ceremony have taken the best trimmings from the primal black metal second wave and created an album which feels pulsing and dangerous even at this late date. Sabbat of Behezael is obviously influenced by the likes of Beherit, Von, Goatlord, and Samael in both aesthetic and writing, but unlike so many doing this style under the war metal pennant, this album also boasts a significant melodic-narrative prowess, albeit firmly based in the dark and dissonant camp.
As long-term fans of underground horror and heavy metal, we are more than willing to suspend our disbelief and buy into the presented premise, provided the evidence is compelling enough to make us linger in that state of suspended skepticism. Far too many bands, however, seem incapable of remaining loyal to their original motives; thus the often jarring shifts in composition which pull the listener out of the aura he has consented to be built around the work at hand.
Not only does Sabbat of Behezael excel at keeping this cohesion in both intent and narration, but it also reveals a subtle harmonic complexity belying its rough exterior. Like Samael on Worship Him, there is a lateral activity on view here which doesn’t compromise the all-around brutality but in fact enhances it. Individual riffsets are simple and monolithic like plates floating on a bed of liquid magma but each such riffset contains a head and a tail carved with just enough awareness to make a close fit with its neighbour. Guitar solos are almost out of tune, as should be for music reflecting so much malice, but they are not without intelligence, erupting either as violent release or in the form of moldering, mood-developing device.
Sabbat of Behezael arrives at an opportune time for black metal, a time when the scene is riven into one of three flavors: self-referentially violent war metal, dissonant orthodox fare, and the flowing, tremolo-picked minor scale style. Yet the disappointment with these variants, regardless of their pretension to the contrary, has been the absence of the intangible, quasi-ritualistic darkness that was such a hallmark of the classics. Perverted Ceremony may be standing on the shoulders of those same giants, but they have done a valuable twofold service, by parting with the mainstream in the way they compose black metal and, more importantly, by reintroducing that lost and vital element of evil in all relevant discussion about the genre.