Bewitching the Pomerania is proof-of-concept death metal by Polish extreme music elites Behemoth. Produced and released in 1997, the extended-play marks the group’s shift from harsh, volkisch black metal to philosophically-inclined death metal – with which the group has remained for their past two decades of existence. Although not an essential addition to anyone’s death metal discography, it is engaging and demonstrates the band’s early success at making the shift between subgenres.
Bewitching the Pomerania consists of three tracks: two from previous releases1 and one entirely new song. In contrast to the groovy technicality of The Apostasy or the wall-of-sound death metal of The Satanist, Behemoth’s early death metal output is little more than black metal songs played as death metal. It is far less melodic than either of those albums – even considering the symphonic bursts sprinkled between riffs – with some exception on “Hidden in the Fog.” Notably, Bewitching the Pomerania showcases bandleader Adam “Nergal” Darski’s shift in vocal style from a rather standard black metal high-pitched shriek to his now-iconic roar; the best example is “Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic).” The riffs are generally tight, if extending too long past their prime – a relic from the band’s black metal days. This is Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński’s first recording with the band; although his trademark speed and eclecticism is relatively subdued here, he proves more than capable of holding his own on “With Spell of Inferno (Mefisto).”
Bewitching the Pomerania shows a band who is trying to find their footing: Nergal occasionally falls back into his old vocal style like an actor accidentally lapsing into their home accent, the symphonic elements are a bit cheesy this time around, and that album artwork is so bad that it’s hilarious.2 It is a nice listen for one who is interested in the band’s genre shift, but easily passable for anyone else.
1. With Spell of Inferno (Mefisto) – (4:38) – ★★★☆☆
2. Hidden in the Fog3 – (5:12) – ★★☆☆☆
3. Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic) – (5:15) – ★★★☆☆
1… which the band must’ve really liked, seeing as how this is the third or fourth time “Hidden in the Fog” and “Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic)” were recorded for a Behemoth release within as many years.
2Just look at those painted-on flames!
3“It’s a real tragedy:” that’s a hell of an accent you got there, buddy.