Review | BEHOLDER Conjures Malignant Forms on Arcane Subreptice

            The year is off to a vicious start as Canada’s BEHOLDER casts their newest creation into these wretched times, and Arcane Subreptice advances the dark pursuit initiated on 2019’s Ancien Monde with a full dose of wrath. Clandestine formulas produce numerous malevolent energies within a cold thrashing fury, and other influences are also encountered as the arrangements unfold. A primeval force is channeled into hymns which are further steeped in lore, and they connect the shadows from ancient eras with inner conscious states while glorifying death and the abyss. The songcraft of BEHOLDER incarnates these qualities in the form of Arcane Subreptice, and its essence heavily reflects their surrounding mystery.

            The ritual commences with layered tremolo formations on “Coagulation des ombres,” and the pace abruptly alters when a brooding riff emerges. Dissonant notes resound before tremolos weave further despair over the heaviness, which creates a sinister aura matched by the cryptic vocal rasp, and these melodies unleash a drastic course alongside recurrent blast beats. The arrangements escalate their attack with variations employing double bass, along with the chilling glare of a riff that evolves with pronounced chord patterns, and this culmination advances toward melodic conjurations on the title track. Their trills and speed progress to a rhythmic force that slows for emphasis, and its doom restructures through integrated tremolos while a menacing shape appears. This energy persists after an initial burst of rapid vibrating melody on “Outreterre,” and the dark currents of its fury are amplified during a passage utilizing cymbal taps. Frenzied intervals alternate with other sections revealing traces of punk, and they drift into slower chord structures until arpeggiations bring an eerie close.

            Pounding thrash and punk vibrations continue the assault on “Affliction électuaire,” and it develops with drum variations amid the fierce tones embedded within heavier blasting shifts. A rush of riffing and double bass delves into a slower passage, where an immense gloom is compounded by dismal tremolo forms, and the returning momentum directs an icy blast on “La grande isolation.” Its entrancing quality changes for heightened melodic speed, which traverses mid-paced and blast beat sections while merging the punk with blackened forces, and this effect is particularly noted when hammer-pulls evolve in the prevailing harshness. The intensity only breaks for an outburst of sinister vocal laughter and trills before raging ahead to the visceral melodies on “Succube de Lilith.” Quickness gives way to heavy grooving power, along with intermittent tremolos to enhance its rhythmic patterns, and these progress with varying shapes on the path back to orchestrated fury. The energy carries over to a conclusive attack on “Régicide des dryades,” and its bombardment leads to a brooding exchange between chords and clinging notes. A dreary melody takes hold during the transition to a forceful pace, and the riff escalates toward further chaos, with its point also raised by tremolos until an inevitable crushing drop seals the end.

            Since French is employed for these incantations, many of their exact details will remain concealed from complete foreigners like myself. The band states they form a concept “based on occultism and the dark, evil self that lies hidden in the shadows of humanity,” and while I don’t place complete trust in Google Translator, it does provide further insight into their contents. Spirits and legends from the past return to conquer once more through the shadowy manifestations of “Coagulation des ombres,” and contemptuous views inspire the casting of malignant forces on “Arcane subreptice.” A tormenting venture into the abyss follows on “Outreterre,” and this underworldly realm also possesses an intoxicating substance, which is the subject of great desire on “Affliction électuaire.” Seclusion with religious and worldly disdain are marked on “La grande isolation,” and the void of death is embraced from the madness they induce. Adoration of an infamous female entity is the focus on “Succube de Lilith,” and lyrics aren’t currently available for “Régicide des dryades,” but the title possibly suggests Greek mythological themes or references. Based on my rough translation and interpretation, these texts portray an intriguing combination of mythical features with occultism, death, and the void, along with hateful and irreligious tendencies that all complement the tenebrous aura of the music.

            BEHOLDER have followed the esoteric course from their 2019 debut, and Arcane Subreptice expands its territory while keeping the ancient core intact. This classic style harnesses the spirits of punk and thrash, along with the presence of doom and other notably dissonant emanations, and it effectively conjures an atmosphere without relying on ambient or symphonic features. The tracks are clearly structured, but they also possess enough variation and chaos to keep them engaging, and their harshness lingers alongside the anticipation for more hostile works to come. BEHOLDER firmly exhibits their devotion to exploring dark realms on Arcane Subreptice, and many grim vibrations and depths are uncovered here to offer a lasting enchantment.

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