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Behemoth: Sventevith-Storming Near the Baltic (remastered)

If you popped in this 1994 release from Poland's Behemoth without knowing anything about the album or the band, you would swear it was an early release from perhaps Immortal , Emperor, Naglfar, Dimmu Borgir, or any other Scandinavian black metal band. Alas, Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic ) is Behemoth early on in their career before they morphed into a punishing, brutal, and technical death metal machine. In the beginning, Nergal (guitars, vocals, bass) and his ever changing line-up of musicians performed a raw form of black metal that sounded unlike anything coming out of Poland, complete with evil vocal shrieks, raging, tremelo picked guitars, murderous blast beats, and chilling atmospheric keyboards & effects. Sounds like something out of the cold mountains of Norway? You bet. Give a listen to Sventevith and their most recent Demigod back to back and you'll be convinced it's two different bands. Despite the difference, this album still shows Behemoth as a formidable extreme metal band. Nergal's demonic wailings and thunderous riffing plays well off the manic drums and orchestral keys on "Hidden in the Fog", and the truly breathtaking "From the Pagan Vastlands" is a monster of a black metal piece, and still a part of the Behemoth live set from time to time. On this release Baal is on the drum kit, and while he might not be up to the same level of skin bashing that some of the drummers on the current black metal scene are at, he does a fine job here. For those who like plenty of symphonic elements in their black metal, there's no shortage of keyboards on these songs, more used for effect than anything else, but it adds some depth to these otherwise crushing pieces. Lyrically, this one deals with medieval Slav history & folklore, plus plenty of pagan references. Soundwise, as with most of the early-mid-90's black metal recordings, there is a certain rawness, an abrasive element, that permeates throughout the album, and while the remaster by Metal Mind I'm sure cleaned up things a little, there's a good chance they didn't do too much so as to keep the original ambiance of the recording intact. The booklet captures all the lyrics, original artwork and photographs, making this a must have remaster for Behemoth fans as well as those into the early black metal sounds.

Track Listing
1. Chant of the Eastern Lands
2. Touch of Nya [Instrumental]
3. From the Pagan Vastlands
4. Hidden in the Fog
5. Ancient [Instrumental]
6. Entering the Faustian Soul
7. Forgotten Cult of Aldaron
8. Wolves Guard My Coffin
9. Hell Dwells in Ice
10. Transylvanian Forest

Added: October 16th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Behemoth Website
Hits: 2473
Language: english

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Behemoth: Sventevith-Storming Near the Baltic (remastered)
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-10-16 08:48:01
My Score:

Thanks to the folks at Metal Mind Productions we can take a trip back into the not too distant past to find the origins and debut by Poland's mightiest export, the one and only Behemoth. Originally released in 1995, the album "Sventevith (Storming Near The Baltic) finds the band not as the crushing Death Metal group we all know today but instead as a brutalizing Black Metal enterprise who show one didn't need to have their origins in Norway or Sweden. Led by Nergal, who not only sings but plays all guitars and bass, this album is a solid introduction to the band and their contributions to the then still growing Black Metal movement. As you listen you can hear similarities to the giants of the genre such as Immortal and perhaps a little Dimmu Borgir as well but what's more important was how impressive it actually was with their being among the few such acts from this region of the day. If you closed your eyes and knew nothing of the band you heard you would totally assume this was a by product of the Norwegian artisans. The tale told seems to be about Slavic folklore and their history and one can read deeper into this based on the provided lyrics in the booklet (the white font on black is a tad tricky on the eyes I must admit). Nergal wrote every song on the album with the exception of "Ancient" and "Hell Dwells In Ice" which were apparently compositions by Demonius (another Polish Black Metal band). Drums are excellently delivered by Baal Ravenlock and the session keyboards by Cezar and they both truly bring this stuff to a larger life while Nergal growls from the depths of his soul. Songs that win me over from this one are the thundering "Hidden In The Fog" for both its power and its overall atmosphere. "From The Pagan Vastlands" is one of the more epic numbers and shows that if Behemoth decided to remain a Black Metal act that they would have been one of the best to do it even by today's standards. Some numbers still possess certain rawness such as "Wolves Guard My Coffin" and while it seems that Metal Mind Productions did a proper cleanup of the tracks for the remaster you can't help but wonder how pure it would have sounded when it was originally released. Proving he was a man of many talents, Nergal also handled all of the original releases production. This guaranteed it would not go against his artistic vision.

If you take Behemoth then against Behemoth now you will definitely wonder how such an amazing transition took place and swear that you were listening to two distinct bands. I admit that while I enjoyed hearing their roots in Blackened Death Metal that I was happy for that which I find in today's Behemoth as an Extreme Death Metal act. This is a great lesson in musical history for one of the most important bands to not only come out of Poland but that which the genre has offered up for consumption.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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