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I've always felt that this band was eminently qualified to lead a charge from their "shores", going back to their earliest material, which seemed to contain, if nothing else, a germ of potential that the rest of the Polish bands did not share. Whether that potential was based on idiosyncratic circumstances or the true talent lurking beneath the black metal stylistics of their earlier releases, I am not sure - but until they took a step to differentiate themselves from the Eastern European hordes with 'Satanica' Behemoth was always, for me, a hit-or-miss affair: their albums were listenable, to be sure, but noted by me mainly for their character as documents of a 'band-in-waiting', a group that had not found their own particular style yet, and most of all, for their interesting take on Emperor's musical language. In the swelling tide of sound-alike bands emerging from all the different countries of Europe after the first strikes of Emperor and the rest of the Norwegian black metal scene - a tide that threated to engulf the listening public in a maelstrom of mediocrity and unoriginality - Behemoth at least stood out as a band that could play their instruments well, if nothing else. But with this release the group finds themselves in a strange position: a new sound, a new look, a new label, and a new chance to make an impact upon the post-black metal scene.
Interesting, then, that they chose to go back to what is surely their roots (as it is equally the foundation of almost every black metal band from the second wave): death metal. Other reviews of this album have placed their new sound and style as being close to Morbid Angel, but I don't really hear that at all. It is now a standard or cliche to compare a death metal band to Morbid Angel when they are difficult to describe in another way: this both because Morbid Angel's stylistics are so broad and all-inclusive, and could be referenced by bands of completely different styles, but also because they are still the leading death metal band and thus a nod in their direction ensures a readily-recognizable identity ready to be 'borrowed'. I would say that this is actually much closer to Deicide (as well as their nation-mates Vader, no surprise there), if they wanted to compare the music to prototypical death metal, as it is comparatively simple, brutally rhythmic, and extremely fast. Behemoth forgo much of their earlier attempts at atmosphere or lyrical effusiveness and instead just blast away at light-speed for much of this album, which seems to work equally well for them: I didn't really miss their earlier style when listening to this album...no, this suits them just fine, and in actuality they sound more original now that they have dropped all the 'atmospheric' black metal pretenses and streamlined their sound. Don't get me wrong: this isn't a 'typical' death metal release, not by a long shot, as the music is not afraid to explore avenues left neglected by the mainstream death bands, and there is still enough of the 'De Mysteriis' cold black metal influence in here to justify the claim that their bio makes that they are trying to combine death metal with early Mayhem. Behemoth have started something here that I think they would be well-advised to continue in the future - but neither is this truly ground-breaking or strikingly novel, so I would have to temper my enthusiasm with a few words of caution: seek this out if you attracted to former black metal bands changing back to death metal (Gehenna constantly comes to mind when listening this album), but also be aware that this is just the 'first strike' of their new style, and I'm sure their next album will be more confident as well as better constructed.
Once a pure black metal band balancing fluid melody and rolling rhythmic gravity, Behemoth now operate within the stylistically vague realm commonly referred to as 'blackened death metal', playing songs that are death metal in structure and technique, with black metal atmospherics and esoteric concept; the songs employ riffs that are efficiently consonant and interconnected in transitions which are marked by sudden alterations of structural patterns to redirect flow or change mood, maintaining a constant equilibrium of intensity and melody, aggressively propelled by surging, relentless rhythmical motion. The main melodies emerge characteristically from the interior of the non-stop barrage of musical momentum and force that provides the foundation of songs, while remaining committed to the defining stylistic aspects and unfailingly focused on the singular thematic realization. Early impressions of the album are something like a merging of Morbid Angel’s Covenant with Emperor’s Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, with the enhanced intensity of more modern styles of death metal in both speed and instrumental detail, but Behemoth like to use a variety of nuances like electronic noise effects in between songs, sometimes as a slight indicator of a song’s mood or melodic theme, yet these subtleties are more the substance of novelty to keep the listener engaged from track to track during brief pauses between immersive blasting attacks and disintegrating riffs in complex patterns.
"I am who I am not
I negate and confirm
I transgress - it is real!"
The riffs are not as complex as their patterning, but there is a technical approach to instrumentation which never steers the music astray from its concentrated intention, these riffs always centered on the band’s distinctive progression of melody. The melodic development occurs through a complex course of articulation, with frenetic solos running wild as an offshoot of the concurrent melodic theme, as each motif cycles through expanded sound-shapes in an exceptional display of organizational detail, while riffs establish atmospheric mood as they move towards transitions in melody, and the expressively strong, rage incensed, maniacal growls bring emotional force, and harmonize with the elements fulfilling the compositional design. All this is realized through exceptional instrumental skill and powerful expression, at times reaching a degree of communication on a level with some of metal’s most universally acclaimed acts.
"Sensation... Nutrition... Mastication... Procreation...!
This is your blind - worm cycle
Know ye of nothing further than your own stench?
Heaven is indifferent to your salvation or catastrophe"
In stylistic approach Behemoth is more death than black metal on Satanica, concentrating less on mood establishment and atmospheric effects and more on compositional detail and extended formulations of instrumental interplay, yet its esoteric substance is connected with the traditionally understood idea of metal as a hostile artistic reaction to the idea of moral and spiritual absolution, voiced with an impossibly passionate desire for independence. Special attention needs to be paid to the powerful and articulate vocals which provide the music a furious voice of commanding presence and expressive range that compliments the inventive phrasing of the guitarists, as well as the storming performance of the drummer who propels the unyielding rhythmic force with an impressive display of technical ability matched with physical stamina, as the music synchronizes intelligence and power on this excellently produced effort. I’ll always like this band’s earlier work better for its obscure atmosphere and primal display of the elements featured with more sophistication and technicality here, but Satanica is above most of its competition in the field of technical blackened death metal.
Satanica was a turning point for Behemoth, the album where they stepped off the beaten path and embraced the style of blackened death metal for which they are now best known. Despite the strength of their very early black metal work (they still play "Moonspell Rites" from And the Forests Dream Eternally live for a reason), they were still merely recreating an already established style. Satanica's preceding album Pandemonic Incantations had a vague death metal vibe, but it was a sloppy mess of unoriginal Norsecore at its root, and at best hinted towards what Behemoth would become. Satanica was it though, a death metal record that spoke of their black metal roots while bubbling with ideas that make it an incredibly enjoyable listen. This album is the first example of what has since made them one of death metal's most well known bands, and shows that why they deserve their acclaimed status.
From first to last, Satanica is a bucket full of riffs, as any death metal album worth its salt should be. The balance Nergal drawn between black metal and death metal on the riffing is deft; rather than opting for thick death metal chords with the occasional black metal tremolo picking, the riffing takes the form of one or both genres in many ways at many times. Right from the energetic explosion that is opener "Decade of Therion", this clearly audible. It's hard to describe the torrent of riffing that makes up the song, but it's clear upon first listen. What is also noticeable is the ease with which the guitars shift from riff to riff. They're missing the snap-lock tightness of more recent Behemoth work, but they still change-up organically and in good conjunction with the rest of the music, particularly the drums. Drums have always played an important part in Behemoth's brand of death metal, providing a strong center both through driving rhythms and individually fascinating displays of skill. Inferno's ability to drum like the best of them is well represented, with blast beats, snare and drums rolls, and heavy double kick drumming all providing a powerful core over which the guitars blare. Nergal's deep growls roar over the music in equally well managed conjunction. The multitrack technique that adds energy to more recent tracks like "Slaves Shall Serve" is missing, but Nergal is an adept vocalist and covers his role with gusto. The way he growls "starspawn" in the song of the same name is intense, and he interacts with the vocal effect in "Chant for Eschaton 2000" interestingly by changing the manner of his growl, at times bringing it up to more of a harsh singing style.
Components like the aforementioned vocal effect are part of what makes the Satanica so enjoyable as well. There are plenty of clever ideas that pop up throughout, like the melodic harmonies and leads in "Ceremony of Shiva", (to iterate) the vocal variety on "Chant for Eschoaton 2000" and its urgent riffing, and the melodic solo that echoes through "The Alchemist's Dream". Nergal and co. obviously put a lot of creative energy into making this album, and it shows. Though it doesn't have the same tightness as, say, Evangelion, Satanica has a creativity and honesty that makes it one of the most enjoyable albums in Behemoth's discography. Overall, Satanica is a treat, a fantastic death metal album that's as important to Behemoth's history as it is fun to listen to.
"Satanica," or more specifically its opening track, "Decade of Therion," was what introduced me to Behemoth. Initially I greatly enjoyed the album, but after listening to newer Behemoth albums like "The Apostasy," "Demigod," and "Evangelion," "Satanica" isn't so great. In fact, it’s my least favorite album by Behemoth and of the ones I've heard, probably their worst. But it's by no means a bad album and is still good to listen to.
On "Satanica," the guitars still have trace elements of black metal that later in their career would almost completely vanish. The guitars play a style that for the most part sounds like early death/thrash albums with hints of black metal sewn into the riffs. As far as the riffs go, I almost want to say that they all sound the same but I can't do that. They do sound similar to a certain degree, but for the most part they're fairly memorable. As usual, the guitar solos that Nergal plays are good, most notably on tracks such as "Lam," and Starspawn."
Inferno's drumming has become one of my favorite things about Behemoth and I wasn't disappointed on Satanica. The drums at the beginning of "Ceremony of Shiva" sound excellent as usual and are phenomenal throughout the album and add to Behemoth's blasphemous brutality.
Nergal's vocals are good as well, but not as good as they would later become. They sound much more black metal oriented than the style he would use on later albums such as "Demigod" for example. Altough I prefer his later style, his vocal performance on "Satanica" suits the music better.
My big problem with "Satanica" is the production quality. The entire album sounds a bit "fuzzy. The production isn't bad but I would've preferred it be a tad bit cleaner. The only other problem is that there are several songs that are incredibly average sounding. "Ceremony of Shiva," "The Sermon to the Hypocrites," "Starspawn," and "The Alchemists Dream," are anywhere between average to good and drag the album down.
Other than that this is a good album to listen to and I still enjoy listening back to Behemoth's earlier days.
Nergal is pissed as shit – he’s sold his soul to Satan and now you’re the one to pay. Pandemonic Incantations was the one where Behemoth were still attempting to refine their sound, so you can expect that with some refinement and some bargaining with death metal that the group would find their calling. The sound here… is… enormous – everything is louder than a wrecking ball crashing through your house. Nergal growls your face off, the riffs are tremors of doom, bass tears the roof off, and Inferno comes in to finish your pathetic soul. While I wasn’t a fan of Behemoth around the time they got big with Demigod, I did happen to enjoy this album quite a bit.
The tracks here carry that biblical / historic theme found on their previous album, except now it’s more intense. Again, this sounds rather tame compared to the more recent material, but it’s still like a death metal brick hitting black metal glass. Riff-wise you’d be correct to expect more middle eastern influenced leads, charging tempos, nihilistic tendencies, and some of the most contorted drumming you’ll ever hear.
The only thing about the guitars I find annoying are the stupid pinch harmonics – leave that shit to Zakk Wylde because it doesn’t work well here. It makes the whole thing sound artificial and mechanical – we’re supposed sound like we’re caught in a plague of locusts, remember? It’s not rampant, but you’ll know when you hear them. Bass is grumpy and deep as you’d expect, so behind the riffs you can expect a lot of hefty power. The songs themselves are between fast-paced and mid-paced, unlike Behemoth’s sister group Nile who seem to love making slow songs. The distortion of the leads isn’t raw, but instead grand and hypnotic – you’ll feel like you can’t help but be put under a ritualistic spell when hearing them. The only thing stopping you from giving in is Inferno’s drumming – the beast behind the curtain. He’ll blast away blast beats and double bass like stones on the pyramid – no mercy for anyone. This guy will trample over without thinking twice, and the problems with the snares and cymbals on the last album are completely fixed here, so only trouble awaits you.
However, the biggest one to fear is the traitor himself – Nergal. Selling his soul not only gave him a new look, but also a voice that will rip you in two. His growl isn’t as cavernous and low like on later albums, but it’s fierce, tireless, demonic, and possessed. He’s been juiced, and his roars here overcast every previous growl and scream he attempted.
With all albums come tracks that somehow outwit the other, but here shows our exception. On the outer layer, much of the songs sound exactly the same: fast/mid-paced, charging, loud, heavy, etc. Once again, the finer details in the riffs and melody do happen to give more than one expects to take. I’ve been listening to this album longer than the rest of Behemoth’s discography, and I can truthfully say that all the songs are varied and spark interest in ways that you’ll have to hear to understand. Again, many will argue that they sound the same, but that just shows how much attention to detail they pay.
I’d highly recommend you check this album out, as I did when I first got into the band. It was my introduction and serves as a better way to get into their death metal material than their black metal material. By this point, there was no turning back – Behemoth already sold their soul, but they didn’t sell out. They had come along way from their early days, and the only way to age from here was to mature.
Ah, Behemoth. One of the most prolific and, in my opinion, greatest of all modern metal bands. Not commercial, not compromising, and not weak - quite the opposite in every respect of those three things. But the reason why they are so great is because of the style of metal they play. They used to be an underground folk influenced black metal band with nothing whatsoever to do with death metal. Then they started moving more towards death metal with their Bewitching the Pomerania EP and then slightly more so on their third full length album Pandemonic Incantations. Even so this was a messy period where the band clearly hadn't quite found their niche yet. They were experimenting a lot with their sound, and thus Pandemonic Incantations was a bit of a disappointment - different from their earlier black metal albums certainly, but not unique or great enough to really mean that much.
That all changed in 1999 when this album was released. Satanica.
This was the first true blackened death metal album in a lot of ways. While that may not be an entirely accurate statement with regards to the entire black and death metal underground throughout the world, this album was clearly one of the first and best examples of death metal with black metal influences done well without seeming contrived, overly experimental, or silly, and certainly the most prominent one.
Satanica has all of the key elements in place that make modern day Behemoth the great and mighty crushing metal machine it is to this day: crushingly heavy guitarwork, pounding drumming, excellent technicality, interesting melodies, and Nergal's unique vocals. This album is completely different from anything that came before it: it's more intense, more violent, more brutal, and certainly more unique. It really stands out to the point where from Nergal's unique and brutal vocal approach to the specific style of the guitar playing and drumming you can quickly tell it is Behemoth. No other band really has quite this sound. The earlier albums, while good in their own way, were basically just black metal albums with a little bit of keyboards and some folk influences. Good at times but not uniquely special. And the transition EP and album were disappointing to say the least. This album is really where everything came together to create one great force of music, a mighty metal machine of amazing power and vitality that is now one of the greatest metal bands in the world.
Unfortunately, it isn't perfect. Of course no album is really, but the truth of the matter is that despite this album's excellence, it doesn't quite measure up to the awesomeness of Zos Kia Cultus and Demigod. Those two albums are in a class of their own anyway, but one can't help feeling just a little disappointed that there isn't more of that true anger, brutality, and epicness that those albums wield in this one. There certainly is some of it; the fourth and seventh songs in particular are good examples of this kind of thing - but overall this album isn't as great as what followed a couple of years later. It's still excellent though, just not as excellent.
In terms of overall quality, the songs range from average to good to fantastic. The second and sixth songs fit into the first category, the third, fifth, and eighth fit into the second category, and the first, fourth, and seventh fit into the third category. Thus the album doesn't maintain the consistently brilliant quality throughout like Zos Kis Cultus and Demigod do. However, the average songs are still decent, the good songs are more than worth listening to and the fantastic songs are definitely essential listening if you are a Behemoth fan. Decade of Therion is a fantastic opener, crushing and brutal yet somewhat melodic. Not anywhere near as angry or as vicious as the stuff on their next few albums but still heavy as fuck. Of Sephirotic Transformation and Carnality is brilliant, combining catchy but angry and vicious melodies with great vocals throughout. The Alchemist's Dream is incredible, beginning with some weird sounds then following with some of the most awesome riffs Behemoth ever wrote, and as usual great vocals from Nergal. The most interesting part of this song is the middle section, which has no vocals and is all drum and guitarwork, very heavy but with some very interesting melodies and quite different from the beginning of the song. The uniqueness of that entire song is what makes it so great.
As for the good songs, Ceremony of Shiva is good, with some strange but surprisingly not particularly eastern melodies despite the title and the lyrics, which are all about some strange eastern ritual, and this also seems a bit odd considering the intensity of this song. Even so it works fine for the most part. The Sermon to the Hypocrites is pretty good too, a lot slower but still good. Chant for Eschaton 2000 is weird and mostly mid paced, kind of experimental sounding, but again good.
Finally, the average songs are a little disappointing. LAM is simply too fast, which after Decade of Therion feels a little repetitive. It also has some weird stop start moments which are a little annoying at times. Starspawn has the potential to be a good song but is simply rather forgettable.
The album is also fairly short compared to Behemoth's other later blackened death metal albums; at only 35 minutes, it's over pretty quickly if you listen to it in one go. Even so this isn't a bad thing, as short but intense is often good, it's just a little disappointing considering that all of the later Behemoth albums are 40 minutes or longer.
Besides the great guitarwork and drumming, this album's other strengths are that it has enough variety with the eight different songs to keep it interesting, with every song having a fairly different sound(which is definitely a good thing), and Nergal's brilliant vocals. Like on the later albums, his vocal approach is in between death growling and black metal shrieking; the best way to describe it would be a brutal shout, or a vicious howl. It's neither very high nor very low, but overall it is actually closer to a death growl than a black metal shriek, although not entirely. Either way, like the unique guitar sound and drum sound, Nergal's vocals stand out as much on this album as they do on every other one of Behemoth's later albums.
In terms of melodies, this album hardly employs any of the eastern and/or flamenco melodies that would become commonplace in nearly every Behemoth song starting with their Zos Kia Cultus album three years after this album was released. The only eastern stuff that is really obvious is in Ceremony of Shiva, and even this isn't very eastern sounding compared to some of the songs on Zos Kia Cultus, Demigod or The Apostasy, and even less so than some of the songs on Thelema 6 too.
Lyrically, the album is kind of bizarre, showing a mixture of occult obsessions, black magic rituals, hatred against Christianity(obviously), and some eastern stuff, most notably again on Ceremony of Shiva. It's different from the lyrical themes of some of their following albums but still interesting.
Overall, this album is excellent: it's well paced, brutal, complex, interesting, and filled with all of current day Behemoth's trademarks, from Nergal's sudden vicious screams/roars/howls that appear out of nowhere, to the sounds of the instruments that is unique to Behemoth. Any Behemoth fan should already have this album. If you don't, and you like Behemoth, I suggest you get it immediately. While it isn't the brutal monster that is Zos Kia Cultus, or the crushing blast beast that is Demigod, it's still a great album and it's where Behemoth defined their style. They would refine it further with Thelema 6, and then even more so with Zos Kia Cultus, but it is still a great start.
...if he heard this one.
Satanica. The Behemoth album that really turned them into the crushing machine they are today. The alienated a lot of their old fans with this one, since there's not much black metal left in it. Pandemonic Incantation already showed some hints of this new sound, but this is the album where it really started.
Decade of Therion is a monster of a song. Boy, it must have been a shock for Behemoth fans! The song is ultrafast, ultraviolent and still damn catchy. "ANO NANTOZ KAKODAIMONOZ!" You can't sit or stand still when you hear this. You just have to scream along with Nergal, it's that catchy.
Oh my god, then comes L.A.M. Yes, it ie EVEN FASTER than Decade of Therion and the part where Nergal sings "Kaos Keraunos Kybernetos" is one of the best moments on the whole album.
The album is totally unpredictable, brutal, well-structured. From the first two ultrafast songs to the strangely progressive sounding "Ceremony of Shiva"(clean vocals in the background!) this is beauty. Yet, Behemoth managed to top this album with their following releases.
This is a piece of art, that turned Behemoth into one of THE bands you recognize by the first few seconds of a song.
The only problem this album has is it's length. Sadly, it's only about 35 minutes long, though the songs never get old. GET IT!
Best songs: Decade of Therion, L.A.M, Ceremony Of Shiva, Chant for Eschaton 2000
Behemoth is one of those few bands that evolved from pure/raw black metal to Blackened Death Metal. Many bands evolved through time but not many managed to keep the innermost aspects of their music. Behemoth accomplished this. After listening to Satanica for about 40 times i have know a pretty good idea of what this album is about. First of all the production of this record is great and gets close to that of Nile-Annhilation of The Wicked and In The Darkened Shrines. In this album we have Nergal on vocals and guitar, Inferno on drums and Orion on bass. Nergal’s vocals are amazing from every single point of view. They are brutal, but not monotonous like some Death Metal vocals are. The guitar work is technical and destructive especially in the song Ceremony of Shiva. This song with LAM can give you the feeling of a huge egyptian army coming towards you. It is a feeling i have never witnessed from any song. The drumming is fast and precise and everything fits perfectly alltogether with awesome bass-work. So far i have never listened to a band that could give such brutal destruction and at the same time be so technical.
Satanica is the first Behemoth release into their current blackened death style. After the failed experiment of Grom and forgotten Pandemonic Incantations, Behemoth decided to go for a more “commercial” sound, thus Satanica has no black metal elements in it like that of previous Behemoth releases. What has replaced those elements is what defines Behemoth as a band today, very fast technical drumming, heavy and brutal guitar riffs, and deep choppy vocals via Nergal. Although Satanica alienated most of Behemoth’s older fans, what they produce with Satanica is something much more complex and enjoyable than that of pre Grom era Behemoth.
The best description of Satanica would be a less heavy and aggressive version of Thelma.6 or a less complex version of Zos Kia Kultus. Its full of your trademark Behemoth style blackened death metal. Decade of Therion displays what Satanica, and Behemoth, do best, combining technical drumming and heavy aggressive guitars and make them sound like one instrument, while having Nergal add vocals that fit the rhythm perfectly. Its moments like these that make Behemoth’s music stand out on Satanica, where all the various elements, drumming, guitar work, vocals, and bass all come together to produce one distinguished sound (somewhat like Blizzard Beasts by Immortal). Another stand out moment on this album is on Ceremony Of Shiva where the guitar style breaks from a heavy and aggressive to a melodic rhythm which is complimented by Nergal placing his vocals to work with the technical and choppy drumming. This makes the song have rhythm but not sound weak or boring like melodic death metal by still maintaining the aggressive and heavy elements of the drums and vocals. Starspawn and The Alchemist’s dream also so this well.
While Satanica is filled with many great moments on each song that are all great sounding, a lot of this album sounds to repetitious and trite/boring. On Ceremony Of Shiva, all that is before and after the melodic guitar solo is nothing special and doesn’t do all that much to compliment the song. After the Intro to Chant For Eschaton 2000 which is progressive, technical and one of the best sounding moments of the album, the song runs out of inspiration and produces boring death metal until it reuses the intro again. Many of songs on this album do that as well, have one standout segment, then slam the song into a brick wall destroying all that it had going. This breaks up the flow and replay of Satanica greatly. Although Satanica is filled with many great elements and about one or two great moments per each song, the lack of consistency and flow make this album easy to forget. With Thelma.6 and Zos Kia Kultus that take the formula of Satanica and get it right, there is little reason to listen to this album. In its own Satanica is not a bad album by any means, it just falls short of that good/memorable line and ends up being somewhere between average/good (if you’re a big fan of Behemoth) or forgettable/average if you’re just a casual fan of the band.
Behemoth's early material really doesn't do it for me--not enough musical ability or identity. But all of a sudden, with this tremendous release, they broke the mold of the past forever and really tore into the scene proper with this awesomely focused and lethal album.
Naturally, the drums are triggered to hell and back, but Inferno's insane pounding (reference the fear-inducing beginning of "Lam" for the way blast beats ought to be) really lets you know that this is not only a whole new band, but a real band with real players. Nergal's homicidal scream/growl vocals really suit his lyrics, with a strong theme of anti-religion running through them, and his guitar playing took a quantum leap ahead in terms of quality and ability. His riffs are strong and solid, cleanly played, and catchy in that they are well-structured and carefully arranged. Of course, this is death/black metal, so you can't expect pop melodies; these songs are catchy because you can discern the riffs and hear what's going on perfectly.
For your best tunes, I suggest "Decade of Therion" for a ball-busting starter, going into "Lam", and the more progressive tendencies of "The Alchemist's Dream" and "Ceremony of Shiva". And then the best tune on the album, the last one, "Chant for Eschaton 2000", an ominous Morbid Angel-sounding number that builds from an eerie guitar intro (the riff of which recurs throughout the song) into a midpaced cruncher full of dark anger as Nergal snarls out his anti-Christian message through lyrics full of poetic allegory. Beautiful, and it went down a storm when I saw them live last year here in Houston, when they ended their set with it! Altogether an essential modern death metal album that takes the best of both worlds (death and black metal) and makes a sound all their own that is unstoppable. Get this one!!!