Bekëth Nexëhmü isn’t a project that’s looking to reinvent the black metal wheel. The imagery and style are all something we’ve heard and seen before in other bands. But Bekëth Nexëhmü show mastery in their execution, their singular vision of black metal, which allows them stand with some of the finer examples of the genre today.
Bekëth Nexëhmü perform “wintery” black metal; I know it’s a clichéd term, but they embrace the style with vigour and sincerity. At the very least, they certainly don’t shy away from it, adorning all their covers with winter forests and a severely crippled colour palette. But while many bands use winter imagery with black metal when they could just as easily have had any other artwork typical of the genre, Bekëth Nexëhmü’s music convincingly reflects the vision. It’s cold as fuck.
Their latest demo, 2016’s “De Glömdas Ursjälar,” consists of a single, forty-minute track. It sounds daunting, but it’s surprisingly easy to digest. There are two distinct halves; harrowing black metal, followed by frosty ambience. It begins with wandering guitars that gradually grow louder, a blizzard approaching under black clouds. As the riff continues to oscillate, chaotic drums blast into being and roil underneath the swirling guitars. It’s fast, and it’s bleak. Breaks in the drumming let the guitar and synth blare through to add to the atmosphere before bringing the drums back and returning to the furious main riff. In it all, sole member Swartadauþuz’s muffled screams can be heard drowning in the intensity of the flurry of sound.
Then, things begin to dissolve. The drums end, leaving the guitars and synth to meander hauntingly. The guitars slowly fade as the synth overpowers them, and the synth itself soon fades to nothing, to be replaced by the sound of falling water drops. Distant, spacey drumming accompanies a new, soft synth, the violent blizzard gone as you watch it churn on in the distance. The drumming stops, and the storm finally disappears over the horizon. All that remains is the dreamlike calm that settled over the frozen landscape as the gentle ambience continues for the remaining half of the track.
Before long, it’s all over, and you wonder where those forty minutes went. The blend of black metal and ambience is executed well, and the juxtaposition of the first half’s chaos with the second half’s simplicity and calm is sublime. Devotees of Burzum’s “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss,” Sombres Forêts and Paysage d’Hiver would find little to complain about with “De Glömdas Ursjälar.”