Behemoth - The Return Of The Northern Moon
Pagan Records
Black Metal
8 songs (27:30)
Release year: 1992
Reviewed by James
Archive review

A long, long time ago, before Behemoth became the death metal major-league stars they are today, they were just another band in Poland's fledgling extreme metal scene. At this point in time the band's music was a long way away from say, Conquer All's instantly appealing death metal stomp. The band played raw yet melodic black metal, heavily indebted to the likes of Emperor and Burzum. Indeed, it's worth mentioning just how early Behemoth entered the black metal arena, both the aforementioned bands having only put out their first recordings. The Return Of The Northern Moon, while not Behemoth's first demo, is the first demo you're likely to find a copy of, having received a fairly recent re-release as part of the band's Demonica boxset. Despite the band's young age (Nergal was only fifteen when this was recorded) it's remarkably forward thinking, the band's use of keyboards and sampled Gregorian chants on intro Of My Worship being a fairly novel idea. Of course, nowadays seemingly every band about is using conventional religious imagery for their own nefarious ends, but in the context of three Polish teenagers emulating their heroes in some dirt-cheap studio somewhere, it's a surprising move.

After hearing the band's infinitely more proficient later material, it's somehow disconcerting to find Nergal wasn't always a master of his instrument. The guitar-work is rough, even for black metal standards, and indeed, the record even closes with a somewhat amateurish cover of the already shambolic Hellhammer's Aggressor. Still, even this manages to succeed through sheer youthful zeal, Nergal clearly having a great time emulating Tom G. Warrior's grunt (he's done a fair job of copying his notoriously lurching guitar tone, too). Drummer Baal Ravenlock seem to have faded into obscurity, and with good reason, as he plods stiffly through Nergal's songs. Not to be unduly harsh on them, as it's fair to say he's probably a friend who Nergal roped in to add a backbeat to his compositions. Still a cold-water shock after the monstrously technical musicianship of current sticksman Inferno, however. Nergal certainly hasn't found his voice yet, his commanding grunt being totally absent. In fact he's a surprisingly weak vocalist here, delivering his lyrics in a whispery growl that just about gets the job done.

Despite The Return Of The Northern Moon's general amateurish execution, the demo still works simply because it is just that, a demo. The release is enjoyable purely as a historical document, the sound of a very young band finding their feet, with all the youthful excitement that entails. Although merely dismissing the release as a piece of history is selling the demo a little short, as when the band get going it's pretty enjoyable, the riffs having surprisingly strong melodies that rise above the sloppy playing. It's just a shame it's so short, as when you strip away covers, interludes and the intro and outro, you're left with just three songs of original material.

Although The Return Of The Northern Moon is pretty enjoyable when it gets going, there's not really enough here to make it worth going out of your way to get hold of a copy. Still, the record shows Behemoth pretty much had it right from the start, and by their next demo From The Pagan Vastlands they'd already marked themselves out as a force to be reckoned with. Here, however, they're a flawed but talented outfit, making Return Of The Northern Moon very much a “die-hards only” release.

Killing Songs :
Summoning Of The Ancient Gods, Dark Triumph, Rise Of The Blackstorm Of Evil
James quoted no quote
Other albums by Behemoth that we have reviewed:
Behemoth - I Loved You at Your Darkest reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Behemoth - The Satanist reviewed by Jared and quoted 70 / 100
Behemoth - ...From The Pagan Vastlands reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Behemoth - Satanica reviewed by Khelek and quoted 92 / 100
Behemoth - Evangelion reviewed by James and quoted 92 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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