Behexen – Nightside Emanations (Debemur Morti Productions)

Wednesday, 27th March 2013
Rating: 7/10

A little mystery never hurt anyone. In black metal, it’s generally of the serious nature; the cloak-and-dagger style that is supposed to be as visually enticing as it is sonically. Problematic to such tactics is when the portions being dished out are hardly filling and more on the light side of things, practically cancelling out any type of cool visuals. This is not to say Finland’s Behexen’s Nightside Emanations is light in the loafers (actual “loafers” in black metal…now there’s a thought), but its approach and countenance are about as familiar and original as peanut butter and jelly.

Like a lot of bands on the underrated Debemur Morti label, Behexen aren’t privy to making things interesting at first to the listener. Plenty of gruntwork has to be put in the digest black metal passages that are a tepid cross between Watain and Gorgoroth’s more elusive moments. And so the covertness in which this four-piece operate on tracks like “Death’s Black Light,” “We Burn with Serpent’s Fire,” and the closing round of “Kiss of our Dark Mother” end up being mere outlines of the bands that do quasi-atmospheric extreme black metal the right way. In passing, you’re partially stung by some buzzsaw riffs and rounds of blasts, yet they’re unlikely to leave an imprint. They’re just there, taking up space.

One would really need to venture out on a long, serious limb to connect the memorable moments on Nightside Emanations. Black metal shouldn’t be as aloof and garnished with a malaise that it ultimately prevents anyone from getting close. Not like we’re trying to get touchy-feeling, but perhaps Bexehen should loosen up a bit and embrace some dynamics for a change.

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