According to what I’ve heard surrounding this album, it was originally recorded back in 1990 as the first attempt at a true Beherit LP. The original tapes were lost and this recording was buried by time and dust until Sodomatic Slaughter decided to clean his room one day. Apparently, At the Devil’s Studio was in a box under his bed all these years and he didn’t even know it. If that’s the case, it makes me wonder how long it’s been since he last cleaned up. Having listened to The Oath of Black Blood many, many times, I have to say that the sound and the playing on At the Devil’s Studio is actually pretty good when stacked up against what ultimately became the band’s debut album. One of the hallmarks of old Beherit was the fact that everything was so sloppy and chaotic that it somehow worked despite itself. As you might expect, that’s all on full display here. Oddly, the flaws on this album -the tape hiss, the pops, the distorted parts and occasional skips where the tape was damaged- actually add to the recording rather than detracting from it. I found myself getting nostalgic for the days when bands recorded demo tapes on shitty Tascam 4-track recorders and then duplicated them on the cheapest cassettes they could get. The sound was always bass-heavy and distorted, but half the time that was the point. Fans of old Black Metal (particularly early Nun Slaughter, Sarcofago, Bestial Summoning, Worship Him-era Samael, Von, Necrovore, and Blasphemy) will surely enjoy this for what it is: a nostalgia release for Black Metal’s old timers. We may never see a “Golden Oldies” release for Second Wave Black Metal (the First Wave being Venom, Mercyful Fate and Bathory), but if we did, it would probably sound a lot like this.
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