New Hampshire is known for a lot of things, such as the Old Man of the Mountain, harsh winters, and the best chicken tenders ever.1 Death metal, though, isn’t one of those things. Luckily, Dover’s Begat the Nephilim are looking to change that with their wordy debut, the Fiona Apple-esque Begat the Nephilim I: The Surreptitious Prophecy/Mother of the Blasphemy. With little to go by from their Facebook page, and even less from their website (other than the fact that they’re from Dover and they’ve been around since 2012), I took the plunge and buried myself in TSP‘s unhallowed, ritualistic defloration.
As you can gather, Begat the Nephilim like their dahlia murders to be on the black side. This fact reveals itself seconds after the synths that open up “L’inizio” die down and the band blasts forth. The frenetic blastbeats, dueling tremolo rhythms, sweep-arpeggiated leads, even the dual vocal styles that veer too closely to Trevor Strnad’s cornered territory all scream “Everblack was awesome, wasn’t it?” Nothing wrong in-and-of itself, mind you, but the drums are a bit sloppy at parts, and the vocalist2 relies on a more “BREE-BREEEEEE!!!” indecipherable vocal style in his low delivery as opposed to Strnad’s brutal, guttural, and yet understandable vocal ability. And just as the song builds up to a satisfying climax, it just ends.
That’s not to say that there aren’t gems to be found on TSP, however, as their mid-section is pretty damn solid. “Perfect Place to Die” would incite a mighty fine pit, with tremolo melodies, stomping rhythms, and enough variety to keep you guessing and throwing down. Elsewhere, “Mobin” possesses some tasty sweeps and a good lurching atmosphere, and a very cool (and falsely calming) acoustic middle before beheading you for the song’s final section. Album standout “Fervor For Flesh” does so with its blend of Black Dahlia Murder worship with Cradle of Filth-like drama and atmosphere, with guitars dueling with harpsichord synths, and a relentlessly pummeling rhythm section. When TSP hits, it hits hard, and hints at what’s to come for this young act.
What hinders this a bit lies in the production by Anthony Lusk Simone. While thankfully not crushed to within an inch of its life, the drums do sound a bit tinny, and the guitars sound paper thin, with the exception of the lead on album closer, “Apotheosis of the Apocalypse Pt. 2: Dawn of the Nephilim (A Warm Wind Breathes a New Despair),” where it sounds like a broken musical saw. But pulling it further would be the songwriting itself, as there are some bizarre choices, such as the samba-inducing, out-of-place intro to “Apotheosis of the Apocalypse Pt. 1: In the Shadow of the Nephilim (A Cold Wind Stirs the Midnight Air),” or the over-reliance of keyboards. Finally, they’ve got to find their own voice, especially since the scene is already inundated with bands trying (and failing) to copy The Black Dahlia Murder.
There is a supreme amount of talent within Begat the Nephilim and, as I stated above, they’re more than capable of crafting a clever, brutal song. In a few albums’ time, these gents will melt faces and level heads with the best of them. For now, give this a cautionary glance if you’re sick of spinning Unhallowed or Everblack. Promising.