Music is evolving. It has been since the dawn of time of course, but in recent years the breaks have been pressed hard as people struggle to come up with ideas that either haven’t been done before, or that are good enough that no-one cares they have ripped someone off.
For many, it’s too much. Black metal fans – and by that we mean the “tr00 kvlt” ones – love the classic raw, fuzzy sound that the genre has always based itself on. But even that is starting to move towards a more polished sound.
Behemoth fall more into the “Blackened death” category, but their popularity in the extreme metal world and beyond is surely, at least in part, due to their crisp sound and onstage theatrics. They are also more polished because they come from Poland…sorry.
For their tenth studio album, Behemoth have opted to go down the classic unsubtle, no irony route by calling it The Satanist. Never ones to shy away from controversy – frontman Nergal may be going to prison for ripping up a bible on stage in his native country – it’s one that’s sure to catch people’s attention.
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding this album, the first since Nergal was treated for leukemia, and it’s clear to see why as soon as you hit the play button. Opening up with Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel, you get the intense, sinister build up complete with the snarling voice, pounding drums and that simple but absolutely crushing riff leading to that epic orchestral backing. This is as imposing, scary, evil as music gets. That’s just before all hell breaks loose, and you’re left flattened from the blast. That is just the first track…
The album carries on in this vein, and sounds so huge throughout. It’s an onslaught of incredible riffs, Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer and Messe Noir big examples of this. The title track sounds oddly akin to French metal-darlings Gojira, with a bit of groove going on in the rhythm section, but is much more menacing. The solos on this album are spectacular too, and the title track has one of the best.
The most intriguing track is In The Absence Ov Light, which appears to have several movements opening with a wall of sound before a speech in Polish over a delicate acoustic melody with, bizzarely, a distant saxophone, and a sudden return to the chaos soon after.
In the end there really are no weak spots for this album. It is wall-to-wall solid metal, as heavy, malevolent and exhilarating as they come. It’s a welcome return for Nergal and the rest of the band, and will surely be in many peoples top albums of the year already.
For Fans Of: Gojira, Watain
Standout Tracks: The Satanist The Absence Ov Light, Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Written By: Iain Currie