Behemoth - _Grom_
(Solstitium Records, 1996)
by: Henry Akeley (10 out of 10)
Whatever "Grom" actually means, it might as well stand for dynamic force, radiating might and emotion, poised to crush all in its path. That's what Behemoth's breed of black metal has evolved to become - a relentless, whirling blizzard of sound, second to none in intensity and possessing a metallic signature all its own. One thing I love about this band is their highly developed sense of dynamics: this is rooted in the fast black metal style, yeah, but it's fast black metal -plus- insane riffs, cool vocal phrasings and variations in singing style, frequent and fluid changes in pace (some hair-raising, some orgasmic, some both), loud and crusty bass, awesome guitar breaks with rhythmic power-chording, well done solos (guitar -and- bass), cool female vocals, and on and on. Keyboards are used very little; acoustic guitars, a lot. Nergal vocalizes with tons of feeling, alternating between blackened snarl, sinister semi-spoken narration, and almost-clean singing that sounds very cool. (The operatic vocals on the title track aren't so hot, though.) I have a hard time imagining any open-minded fan of extreme metal not really getting into this release. Highlights abound; favorites include the power-mad opening of "The Dark Forest", the bad-ass backbeats in "Dragon's Lair", and the Motorhead-on-speed, Slayer-on-acid riffs of the awesome "Spellcraft and Heathendom". And that's the just the first three songs; I could go on. Great production, too: Nergal's guitar and Les' bass sound splendidly raw, but come through clear, sharp, and loud in a very organic-sounding mix. Same for the amazing drumming of Baal Ravenlock. Totally seething with energy, demonstrating a huge progression from this band's more primitive early sound, _Grom_ is easily one of the best metal releases, in any style, of the past several years. Highest recommendation.

(article published 2/1/1997)

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