For a band frequently described as ‘orthodox’, Finland’s Behexen have proven surprisingly divisive with their releases. While the initiated might find their back catalogue to be pretty consistent in terms of ferocity and bile, their last album, 2008’s My Soul For His Glory, split opinion, with some decrying it for softening its attack and pulling back on the utter rawness of the early works, while others – including this writer – viewed it as one of the most honed and potent slices of black metal for some time.
Certainly the hints of groove and melody have only been increased here, the band continuing to embrace a warmer and more swaggering sound, the increased use of clean vocals and groove arguably making this the band’s most accessible listen yet. This is most obvious with third song, Circle Me, its cleanly chanted chorus refrain and occult, ritualistic declarations bringing to mind Dissection or Watain, an apparent reflection of a strong underlying current in the black metal movement.
A strong work, it nonetheless falls somewhat short of its predecessor, lacking some of the visceral glory and bearing a rather more muddy sound.