Behemoth - Grom review
02. The Dark Forest (Cast Me Your Spell)
03. Spellcraft & Heathendom
04. Dragon's Lair (Cosmic Flames And Four Barbaric Seasons)
05. Lasy Pomorza
06. Rising Proudly Towards The Sky
07. Thou Shalt Forever Win
Some bands gain so much fame in the later days of their career that sometimes their earlier material can be easily forgotten, smothered under the prestige of their career-defining work that brought them to high levels of praise and recognition. Behemoth have been on such a roll lately as Polish death metal titans, with releases such as Satanica and Demigod, that one may be tempted to forget that before their crushing death metal of the past decade launched them to international metal fame, they were just another kvlt black metal band, dancing around bonfires and singing pagan tunes in the elder forests of Poland. Grom is probably their strongest album from this period. It's black metal, but not your common orthodox black metal either, and even in Behemoth's early stages, Nergal demonstrated that his band was, indeed, not quite like the rest of the flock.
Grom could be taken as something of a fusion of the raw, "trve" black metal sound of Behemoth's early work with a few new, unconventional ideas. On one hand, the mid 90s-era sound is there. Nergal's vocals are quite reminiscent of Darkthrone, and actually remind me a bit of Attila's at points, particularly on "Rising Proudly Towards The Sky" and "Dragon's Lair." The guitar has that typical lo-fi buzz sound to it, and the drums blast away in a style quite characteristic of Hellhammer.
But aside from its similarity to the sound established by early black metal pioneers, Grom dabbles with a bit of deviation from the conventions of black metal at the time, dropping a few hints at the band Behemoth was to become. The bass is quite noticeable, its rumbling underneath the drums is often low, but not completely inaudible either. Most notable of these new innovations, however, are the clean vocals, the female vocals, and the acoustic passages ("The Dark Forest," "Grom," and "Dragon's Lair," respectively). This may come as a bit of a turn off to those looking for a more classic black metal sound, but in a way it helps add to the epic, occult-themed atmosphere that has been with the band since its inception.
Grom represents Behemoth's transition from their kvlt, frostbitten beginnings to a new sound that they would further develop in years to come. This variation in sound makes the album probably the best of the band's black metal period. The tracks don't just all blend together, and the new additions to the overall sound help to make the tracks more memorable and distinct. Both an interesting and underrated album in Behemoth's catalogue (Nergal himself has said he considers it their least appreciated), Grom may always be regarded as the one oddball album in their discography. But odd doesn't necessarily mean shit, especially not in this case.
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