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Behemoth - The Satanist

[4th February 2014]
[Metal Blade]

01. Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel
02. Furor Divinus
03. Messe Noire
04. Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
05. Amen
06. The Satanist
07. Ben Sahar
08. In the Absence ov Light
09. O Father O Satan O Sun!

At this point, it is safe to say every metalhead in existence knows the story of Behemoth frontman Nergal’s battle with leukemia and his subsequent comeback. Their headlining slot on the Decibel tour in 2012 showed just how much support Nergal had from his fans in his battle; cries of “fuck cancer!” and “Fuck yeah Nergal!” were loud and many at shows, and Behemoth rewarded audiences with devastating live sets each time. It’s taken until 2014, but the band finally got together to make a new album – titled The Satanist - to follow up 2009’s massive Evangelion. How has the break affected the music of one of the biggest extreme metal bands on the planet?

The Satanist is still clearly entrenched in territory Behemoth have trodden in the past – heavy face-burning riffs, blast-furnace vocals, insane drumming from Inferno – but at the same time, the album carries a different feel to it. It is more majestic; focused on infernal atmospheres rather than pure blasting black goodness. The classic Behemoth sound is intact, but it treads different ground, which makes sense given that Nergal stared death in the face, then punted him in the happy-sacks. A brush with the reaper will tend to change you in some way.

The full on horn sections provide that biggest departure from their usual sound, which is especially noticeable in “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” and “The Satanist.” It is quite a fantastic addition to the band’s sound, but perhaps the biggest shock comes in “In The Absence Ov Light,” which has a section that is acoustic and features a slow, sexy sax line along with some Polish spoken word. Furthermore, the vocals in “O Father O Satan O Sun” are almost reminiscent of those in Gojira’sA Sight To Behold”; a similarity which is a little odd.

On the subject of drumming, unholy gods above and below, Inferno fucking kills it, slaying everything in his path. His drumming on this record is utterly monstrous. Rarely in blackened death metal like this does one hear drumming of this extremely high level, but on “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” it is at its most jaw-dropping; his fills and rhythms are seemingly effortless, and his blast beats are ferocious to a level rarely ever seen in any genre. Inferno is just one of the finest extreme metal drummers, and he it shows here.

Lyrically…do you really expect anything other than Satanic themes? Behemoth have not changed their tune for Hell nor high water, and no longer are the Polish government trying to charge them with blasphemy, so why would they change now? To be completely honest, as committed and serious as they are, Satanism in extreme metal is a tired subject by now.

The Satanist is a fine album, more black metal than anything Behemoth have done on the past few releases. Its lyrical subject matter is the same old for the band, but musically it is a slightly different direction. Behemoth tend to be more groove-oriented in their riffing, but The Satanist makes use of horns to provide atmosphere. The latter half of the album is where the better material is; the first half is a little dry. Ultimately, this is a finely crafted black metal album, one that perhaps gives a bit of insight into the mind of a man who just recently conquered one of the deadliest ailments that a human could contract.

Best songs: “In The Absence Ov Light“, “Ben Sahar“, “O Father O Satan O Sun!


Kevin writer banner Jan 2014