IN FEAR OF A BLACK METAL PLANET
The fear of a sinister Black Metal planet still seems to be going around... well-disguised behind the general contempt of all bands of this genre. One of the most sinister, evil and supposedly Satanic bands of them all, BEHERIT, comes from Finland. Their debut album "The Oath Of Black Blood" met with disastrous reviews everywhere but still - or maybe because of this - sold remarkably well. In other words a cult band pure and simple. I must admit that I had to re-think my opinion of Beherit after remembering how amusing and exciting I found the early Bathory albums. And they came along in a fashion not unlike Beherit today.
I placed a long-distance call to Finland to talk to Beherit mastermind Marko
with his husky, deep and eerie voice about the deepest, darkest secrets of the
band which formed in 1989. Communication with this disciple of evil proved a
little difficult due to the fact that he doesn't speak the universal language
particularly well. That's English to you buddy! But when I tried to explain my
reservations about 'The Oath Of Black Blood' he quickly pricked up his ears...
"I hate the album! It's so bad, we never wanted to release it. The songs are from our 'Demonancy' demo and our label Turbo Music just used a regular cassette for the album pressing. Honestly, I never sent them the master tape... We're planning to release a proper LP soon, this time on my own label. The result should be much better."
Marko vehemently denies any claims that Beherit is a Death Metal band, never mind a bunch of Satanists.
"Satanism, well... there are a lot of bands about who think they're terribly Satanic because they play Death Metal and love using inverted crosses. We use some Satanic symbols, but only because they are evil. We're a Black Metal band, our music is dark and evil. When I'm on stage or when we're surrounded by nature miles from anywhere it's like a journey hundreds of years back in time, when people still had to fight to survive. That's how I live today... There are many people who attack us for what we do, but that only makes us stronger."
As his musical influences he quotes the early classics of the genre: Venom, the Death demos, early Slayer and, rather exotically, Brazilian bands like Sarcophago, Vulcano and early Sepultura albums. In 1992, Beherit seem almost like an anachronism. Either that, or you'd have to admit that Black Metal is not dead after all but is slowly and painfully raising its head again. The new Darkthrone album 'A Blaze In The Northern Sky' can be seen as an indication: pure Black Metal. So would I be right in saying that classic Black Metal is coming back? The Finnish view on the matter:
"Black Metal was never dead! Unfortunately there's a lot of bands who start playing Death Metal because it happens to be trendy. When we started out there were maybe ten Black Metal bands over here in Finland. Now there are over a hundred who are all trying to sound like Morbid Angel or Obituay... but that's just a passing phase."
So presumably Beherit live are also more than a mere Death Metal band... What's so special about them?
"We try to get across as much of an evil mood as possible... There are always some people who are shocked when we appear on stage with our faces painted black, heavy studs and chains; we confront them with the things they're scared of. At a recent show I drank some blood on stage... It's our aim to put on a show like Venom, maybe even more extreme with lots of pyros and fire effects. We've also got a completely new line-up with four people and a keyboardist - a really extreme band."
All being well we should be able to experience their live act ourselves around June/July. Understandably bands like Beherit have always had problems finding venues for their live gigs. But maybe it will be possible to get a tour with Canadian extreme Satanists Blasphemy, Acheron from Florida and possibly Samael from Switzerland on the road. Beherit are doing their own independent thing, move in their own circles and don't particularly care whether the music world understands or not. For me, everything about a band like Beherit seems almost comic-like; if the pictures I've seen are anything to go by they look like an occult version of GWAR. In other words: completely ridiculous, but on the other hand I find the amusing. And if they turn into a cult band and kids start eating nails while listening to their music it may seem rather odd to me but it's certainly nothing to worry about! Is it?