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Energy drink peddler Nergal is back again with 2014's The Satanist, an album a lot of fans/critics are hailing as a "masterpiece" from a "rejuvenated" band. After hearing the title track and laughing hysterically over how the beginning reminded me of The Monster Mash, I knew this was another sham operation from Behemoth. Even the "natural and organic" production Nergal had promised with this album is a lie: more of the same loud, over sampled/triggered drums and sterile guitar tone (is that a Boss Metal Zone pedal?) that the masses have become accustomed to hearing from Behemoth can be found here once again, but with the "additional instrumentation" (trumpets, Hammond organ, etc.) more prominent in the mix than the band itself (the end of the single "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel" showcases this). Another vapid lifestyle pandering media product full of watered down later Morbid Angel/Krisiun riffs with mechanical chugging grooves and multi-tracked constipated grunt/shout vocals. It's more mass market Hot Topic "extreme metal" of the banal and blast beat ridden variety.
Songs are comprised of fewer parts this time, and while you may think this would mean more focused structuring of the music, the Behemoth trademark of shoving riffs aside for incongruous riffs and switching tempo for no reason makes its return. The same old music is rehashed once again, but this time concessions were made to "rock" music fans in the form of "bluesy" lead guitar. Ill-fitting Slash styled solos are showcased in these songs (usually over "anthemic" chord progressions for maximum stadium rock effect) whenever possible which, alongside the simpler nature of this release (even for Behemoth's lowest common denominator pandering standards), makes this closer to rock music than ever before (the last track eerily reminded me of Silverchair during the stompy part). All of these elements, alongside the "confrontational" album title and the regurgitation of past lyrical themes in variant ways (lots of "ov" and anti-christian sentiment with mainstream recognizable occult mumbo jumbo) gives this the "kitsch" feeling of one of those songs you'd hear at the end of a Scooby-Doo episode given a metal flavoring. Vapid. Avoid.
Behemoth is an incredibly technical extreme metal band, and for that reason they have been renowned for the past decade or so. Theirs is a special style of extreme metal that has some influences in the band's Polish roots and black metal essence, but it's not really death metal. The newest album comes closer to true black metal, so why have I given it such a mediocre review?
The reason is that I listen to Behemoth for powerful, technical, creative riffing. In The Satanist we have guitar patterns that almost want to be black metal, but are just too dull and not dark enough to cut it. They're trying to be ominous and evil, but black metal is simplistic for a reason: so that you can focus on the atmosphere and the evil that the music it creates.
Behemoth fails in this attempt, because on top of their guitar parts, they muddle vocals over percussion work and various other instruments. There are precious few guitar solos in this album, and those that do exist are not great compared to what Behemoth can do. If Behemoth focused on the almighty riff a bit more and paid less attention to trying to create an atmosphere--which they aren't pulling off--this album would be far better.
Unfortunately, Behemoth is now at a point in its career when it can rest on the laurels it formed in past albums. Now, Behemoth seems more focused on throwing down (admittedly great) live shows, dressing up in metal clothing and facepaint, and taking threatening videos. They don't have much of a motivation to go back to what made them excellent, which is the almighty riff and drum work that compliments it rather than drowning it out.
The lyrics are still pretty good, but there's just too much going on in the music for them to really be enjoyed. This album is trying to do far too much at once, and even the masters behind Behemoth can't pull it off. The Satanist has its high points, but it's not what it could be.
A lot has happened for Polish blackened death metal masters Behemoth since the release of their last album, 2009’s Evangelion. In 2010, frontman Adam “Nergal” Darski was held on trial in his native, conservatively Catholic Poland for tearing up a bible onstage. Bizarrely, Nergal became a judge on the Polish version of The Voice in 2011 and went on to have one of his contestants win the series, but in a strange twist was then replaced, allegedly due to public outcry at having a Satanist on the program. Most importantly, Nergal was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, but defeated it after having a bone marrow transplant. This means that Evangelion’s follow-up is an album that nearly didn’t happen, and as such it is one of the most hugely anticipated extreme metal albums of the year. At long last however The Satanist, the tenth album of one of extreme metal’s best and most important bands, has arrived, and it is absolutely incredible.
This is an album best suited to darkness. This is the most nefarious and demonic thing Behemoth have released to date, and as a creative statement it is phenomenal. Opener Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel is hardly the archetypal vicious blast of a death metal opener, instead being a slow death crawl of a song, its simple but ungodly main riff marching onward as the rest of the songs develops around it, with symphonics and huge brass sections being brought in to help convey the songs dark message. In this sense it does its job of opening the album perfectly, as this is no simple aggressive death metal release, not that Behemoth have ever been prone to creating those before. Complete with a deceptively simple title and traditionally painted cover art containing some of Nergal‘s own blood within the paint, The Satanist is a devilish manifesto of blackened creativity, a statement of intent from an artist who has literally faced death in the face and now has something new to say.
Apparently during rehearsals, drummer Inferno told Nergal that he could actually hear the leukemia living within the riffs on some of these songs. With any other album it’d be all too easy to dismiss that as pretentious drivel, but here it is startlingly apparent; these songs do have a sense of underlying morbidity and malevolence, from a band who were already one of the most evil-sounding on the planet. The dissonant shades of Messe Noire and claustrophobic stomp of Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel are some of the darkest and most sinister things Behemoth have recorded. Songs like Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer, an unabashedly majestic ode to the glory of Satan, bring forth the blistering ferocity that Behemoth have long perfected, and then there are the more intriguingly different songs. The title track is absolutely beautiful in its lugubrious magnificence, complete with emotion-soaked guitar solo and texture-enhancing Hammond organ. O Father O Satan O Sun! is another longer and tantalizingly unique track, closing off the record with a spellbinding spoken word section over the powerful riffing and enormous symphonic parts.
Inferno is renowned as one of the most intensely brilliant drummers in extreme metal, and things are no different this time around. His blastbeats remain tremendous, and the more ritualistic approach to a lot of these songs means that he has the chance to show off some slower, more soulful playing. Nergal himself is on top form both in terms of his stunning guitar-work and his instantly recognizable and bestial vocals. The production here meanwhile is sublime. Far from the ice-thin and brittle black metal tone they’ve sometimes employed, the guitar tone here is rich and thick. Orion’s bass playing is high in the mix and has a wonderfully clear yet heavy tone, helping make this album one that is sonically crushing, overpowering the listener into submission.
The Satanist is a breath-taking album. Nergal’s brush with death seems to have been channeled into a newfound conviction in what Behemoth does, and the end result is monstrous and frightening, yet touchingly organic and human. Pure and complete, Behemoth have delivered a triumphantly spectacular album which will resonate for a long while yet.
Originally written for http://soundandmotionmag.com/
This veteran Polish band have been around for about 23 years and in that time I have not really been real familiar with this band. I have their first full length, Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic), as well as their previous, Evangelion, but I never jumped on their bandwagon. They began playing black metal and now have a blackened death metal sound to them. The buzz leading up to the release of this album was huge and when it was finally released, I decided to acquire this album to see what all the fuss was about. Good thing I did because I found this album to be a very enjoyable slab of metal that may well just make me go back and look deeper into their previous work. This is a very powerful and emotional album that you can feel when you listen to it. These guys have really pulled something off here and will probably be a contender for album of the year (yeah I know it's kinda early for that).
The album kicks off with the highly powerful first single, "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel". This song is as epic as you can get with huge doomy riffs that go into some balls to the wall blasts. Nergal's vocals are angry as fuck as he growls not at you but through you. This guy means what he says...period! The leads are far back in the mix on this one but that only adds to the atmosphere of this song. This is a really powerful song and sets the mood for the rest of the album. Songs like "Furor Divinus", "Messe Noire" and "Amen" just keep the momentum going by just being these HUGE fucking songs that you can feel. There are plenty of riffs here from doomy death riffs to some black tremolos as well. The guitar work is done extremely well and the songs are well written.
I need to make special mention of two amazing songs, one of them is "Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer". This song if fucking GODLY. It's fast and epic with killer riffs, some great leads and great hooks. Midway through it gets really epic with actual horns, not keyboards but actual trombones, french horns, etc. These guys really went all out to create a memorable song here. The other song is "O Father O Satan O Sun!". Holy shit is this song epic. Great riffs with Nergal's angry growls over some great cleans that just pull you into the atmosphere. There's a lead on this album that could have been on any 70s hard rock album and gives this song even more dynamic. At this point I can not be called a big fan of this band because of my lack of familiarity but this is probably one of the best metal songs I've heard in a really long time. As I said, these guys pulled out all the stops.
So here we have an album that is very close to perfect. It does have a very small cheese factor with the word "of" spelled "ov" in the lyrics throughout this album but it's not enough to take away from the overall epic sound of this album. This is an album that I like more and more with each listen. It's essential!
The much awaited successor to 2009’s Evangelion is finally upon us. The Satanist has been in the works for five years, and much has happened to Behemoth in that time. Worth the wait? Absolutely. The Satanist embodies Behemoth at its most progressive, diverse and refined form.
I believe The Satanist to be the beginning of the next stage in Behemoth’s natural evolution. Having seen them on tour in 2013, it was apparent through their setlist choice and stage presence that their emphasis has slightly shifted from the brutality of relentless shredding and blastbeats, to a more atmospheric and theatrical dynamic. In many ways this represents Behemoth’s biggest success; the ability to tastefully balance the old with the new. The Satanist contains the crucial essence of what we have come to expect from a Behemoth record, but leaves ample room for theatrical experimentation.
It is important to consider that this is Nergal’s first musical outing since his illness and, back stronger and more enlightened than ever, his mentality is reflected in the music. His express desire to no longer compete with other bands and themselves on grounds of technicality and brutality is evident. As he described prior to its release, The Satanist is more organic, more natural than any other Behemoth album since their black metal days. Consequently, the album has a thinner overall sound to it and an almost minimalistic approach. A stylistic continuation of Evangelion’s closing track, Lucifer, slow-to-mid pacing has prominence over much of the record, with several reappearances of eerie spoken word segments. Often categorized as ‘blackened death metal’ (although largely death metal for the past decade), The Satanist stands out as primarily black metal, where guitar and drum work comes across as more simplistic, atmospheric and hypnotic.
As one of many stylistic changes, the vocals are no longer thickly layered and distorted. Quite the opposite, Nergal is more easily understood and, at times, even melodic (see O Father O Satan O Sun). This in turn presents its own (small) problem, whereby clunky lyrics are more obvious as in the cases of Furor Divinis (“Pluck my eyes out, rip my tongue”) and Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer (“Great volcano ov excrement... Reconstellate the firmament”).
The guitars have reverted to a more black metal ‘fuzziness’ (particularly noticeable in Gabriel and Furor) when contrasted to the clarity of the Demigod-Evangelion era. My biggest gripe with The Satanist would undoubtedly be the solos. Let’s face it, Behemoth is no Necrophagist or Dream Theater; no one listens to Behemoth for the guitar solos (with perhaps the exception of Demigod’s Conquer All and XUL). However, I feel that within The Satanist, the solos are rather uncomplimentary to the prevalent atmosphere and come across as, dare I say, unimaginative (as evidenced in the title track, Messe Noire and Amen). While somewhat disappointing, it does not affect my perception of the overall quality of said songs.
A much welcomed change is the prominence of the bass. Orion’s towering charisma is essential to the band’s stage presence as an unstoppable and powerful force (a ‘behemoth’, for lack of a better word), and it is long overdue that his contribution to the record reflects that.
Perplexingly, the drums are less distinguished. Considering Inferno’s reputation as a percussive artillery piece, it’s unusual that, for example, the bass drums are harder to isolate (particularly amidst the colossal – and shiver-inducing - wall of noise at the song’s climax i.e. Gabriel). Further, the toms and the snare lack the impact of previous albums. And similarly to the guitars, Inferno opts for a more tribal, hypnotic and ‘organic’ rhythm to the songs... again echoing the overarching mantra of atmosphere over technicality/brutality. This is not to suggest that blastbeats have vanished; they are still a central component, just not utilised to excess.
The introduction of unconventional instrumentation is another welcome stylistic change. French horns, cellos, trombones, trumpets (and even a misplaced saxophone solo) make appearances, mostly to great effect. Taking heed of past successes (notably from Pazuzu and Shemhamforash), the chilling backup vocals/demonic choir further enhance the eerie, cold and depraved atmosphere.
Songs like Furor Divinis (which I would cautiously label a full blown black metal song), Amen and In the Absence Ov Light hark back to a more familiar structure focused on speed and intensity. Likewise, Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer is reminiscent of Satanica’s Chant for Eschaton 2000 and Zos Kia Cultus’s No Sympathy For Fools. More experimental song writing is shown on the remaining tracks; really hitting home on Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel, the title track, and O Father O Satan O Sun, while not as effective on Messe Noire and Ben Sahar.
I would argue that The Satanist is Behemoth’s first concept album, with all songs coherently dealing with similar themes and morals (beyond the usual occultism and blasphemy). A key feature of which is the dichotomy of the Apollonian versus the Dionysian; despising and rebelling against the concept of perfection and embracing the Dionysian (raw instinct and emotion, flaws and failures, chaos and darkness). Furthermore, The Satanist promotes the destruction of social and religious constructs, and any inhibiting values that ultimately undermine our individuality. Behemoth have achieved this, both in the metaphorical sense, and on their own level, breaking free of and expanding their (and indeed our) notion of what a Behemoth song/album should contain.
Through the events of the past 5 years of life and death, sickness and health, Behemoth have evolved and matured. As musicians, as artists, as philosophers and as humans... and it shows through in the music. Transcending the constructs of genre and society as a whole, Behemoth uncompromisingly fulfils their artistic vision and, in the process, becomes the embodiment of Satanism as the title so boldly proclaims.
Highlights: Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel, Furor Divinis, Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer, The Satanist, In The Absence Ov Light, O Father O Satan O Sun
I think we all had a feeling of how this album would sound with "Lucifer" being the last track on Evangelion. It definitely hinted at a change in sound for Behemoth, lending itself more to black metal than the last 3 - 6 albums. I find that "The Satanist" is probably they're most black metal influenced album since Pandemonic Incantations.
Just to point a few things out, I have read several times that "The Satanist has a weak production" or "a more commercial production". How in god's name do people hear that in this? Fuck knows, 'cause this is one heavy, bordering on 'wall of noise' album. The production is amazing. It's crisp, it's full and it is no way over-produced. This is a brilliant change from... well all of Behemoth's albums in the last 15 years. For me, they have always been too softly produced, or just have quite a boring tone in general. Another big change for the band other than production is the songwriting. The songs are written in a far more "progressive" and in an all in all more interesting and less predicable way than previous efforts. For example "In the Absence of Light" is written in a very odd and fresh way. The song stops and slows right down twice; the first time being soft and atmospherically focused, the second more focused on the heavy deliverance of the bass and drums. This is one of my favourite songs on the album, as it is a good representation of the albums strengths.
Here are the negatives for the album. Nergal's vocals are brilliant!... Most of the time. Unfortunately I did not appreciate the vocal direction he went with in the songs "The Satanist" and "Oh Father, Oh Satan,Oh Sun!". Nergal's patterns seem to have rock influence in them and this is where I feel the album is trying to be a bit more commercial. They sound strained and awkward and I just don't think they fit at all with the swing of the rest of the album. Another thing I feel I must comment on is the god awful guitar wank in "Messe Noire". This is a shitty hard rock solo that destroys the last third of what would have been one of my favourite tracks on the album, not to mention it's way too fucking long. This wankery reappears a few times, but not song breaking amounts of it.
Though there are a few negatives for "The Satanist", it is a rather good album, with a few excellent songs. The major strengths of this album lie in the production, the atmosphere and the general new and unique direction Nergal has taken Behemoth. This shows promise for the bands future as the beast progresses and explores new territory, even if not always for the best.
Standout tracks - Furor Divinus, Amen, In the Absence Ov Light, Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel
I write this review trying not to be biased or as many people would call a "fanboy" towards Behemoth's music since I am a huge fan of their discography. It has been a while since their last release due to Nergal's diagnosis with cancer so of course I don't blame them for the wait. Since Demigod was released I never expected another one of their albums to fall into comparison to to it, but I can say with all honestly i have been proven wrong.
First off, the first thing I realized right off the bat was the improvement of Nergal's vocals. I was completely blown away by his delivery and still am every time a replay the album. Over all of their discography I have never heard so much emotion in his voice before. There are points in this album like for example on "Messe Noire" where the vocals seem so passionate that it almost seems like Nergal is gonna cry, but this emotion provides for one of my favorite aspects of the whole album. As for the lyrics I've always found Behemoth's lyrics very interesting, some times I can decipher them and other times they are way past me and this album is another example of that.
The instruments on this album were great as well for me. Inferno has never disappointed me on a single album, and at this album being a bigger step into the black metal genre he still managed to implement some great drumming besides just typical blast beats you would hear on a regular black metal album. Orion's bass work was also top notch as well and through the great production on the album i could hear it much clearer then on past albums. The guitar work on this album was overall good, there weren't really any real original riffs coming from it. But some of the soloing however was pretty fun to listen to like on "Messe Noire" or the title track where they actually used some pentatonic scales in it too. The use of Saxophone on "In the Absence Ov Light" turned out surprisingly good and i think its safe to say that's the first use of a saxophone in black metal. Overall the atmosphere of the album is fantastic. I noticed some ambient vocals too in some of the tracks like "Amen" and the title track. This seemed to add more of a haunting quality to the album as well. The last track on the album "O Father O Satan O Sun!" had some amazing back choir following Nergal's vocals which turned out to be one of the most memorable parts of the album.
As far as complaints I have only a few for this album. Like i said before i wish some of the guitar riffs were more original, and some of the solos in the album weren't that good. The song structure on "Blow your Trumpets Gabriel" I found was a little goofy too but an overall great song. The whole Satanism lyricism is a bit redundant, but they did seem to have a great take on it.
Overall this will probably hold to be the album of the year for me, but never say never. Every track on this album I found to be original and not a spot on the whole album bored me. The vocals on the album were godly, the instruments provided a great atmosphere and still gave room for Inferno's talent to show itself like it always has. I cannot say enough good things about this album, it makes me truly proud to be a metal head.
“The Satanist” is the tenth album by Polish black/death metal legends Behemoth, and the first since Vocalist/Guitarist Nergal’s recovery from his battle with leukaemia. In the wake of this immense struggle, they have come back with a real point to prove, and as such they have created their most mature, complete and ambitious album to date – this is the first truly great metal album of 2014, and is possibly the best album Behemoth have ever made. It’s epic in scope, brutally heavy, atmospheric and varied in equal measure.
Nergal’s powerful roar is in full force throughout the album, giving one of the most powerful and vicious performances in extreme metal of recent years, particularly on “Messe Noir”, where he roars and snarls his way throughout in the most evil of manners, fitting the satanic lyrics perfectly. His personal struggles over the last few years have really injected him with a huge passion and energy which shines through on every facet of his performance, from his voice, to his guitar work and incredible lyrics.
The album is filled with absolutely crushing riffs, with a lot of variety, with “Amen” taking inspiration from the brutal fury of Marduk, while “Furor Divinis” has a cold and frosty wall of noise style reminiscent of early Mayhem, and “Ben Sahar” has a slower, chugging opening riff demanding you to bang your head.There’s also melody to be matched with the fury, with “Ora Pro Nobis” having catchy epic sounding riffs, in a style similar to Austria’s Belphegor. The lead guitar work throughout the album is also incredible, with blistering solos, especially the epic sounding one from “Messe Noir” which is simply perfect. With all these influences they create a sound entirely their own, with sporadic symphonic sections adding to the drama of the album, especially on the epic opener “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel”, a song with fantastic imagery and drama, a true evil and plodding masterpiece, with slower crushing riffs. ”Amen” is by far the heaviest track, with blistering riffs, an unrelenting blastbeat fury, and a snappy gnarly bass tone, its a perfectly brutal and unrelenting piece of satanic fury.
The lyrics are also fantastic throughout the album. As the title would suggest, the album is based around Satanism, which is something of a cliché when it comes to extreme metal, but Behemoth write about it excellently, with intelligent, thoughtful lyrics. The booklet in the album has descriptions of the songs, and the band reference writers such as Milton, Nietzsche, Witold Gombrowicz and more. The band also claims that the album is titled “The Satanist” as it deals with the human elements of Satanism, the way it affects and manifests itself within us. The concept of the album is definitely intriguing and intelligently written. Not just going for shock value and an attempt at an evil aesthetic like lots of other bands before them, they really have an excellent approach to the subject here.
This approach is at its best on the closer, “O Father O Satan O Sun!” with the song being one of the best tributes to Satan in metal’s history which really says a lot. The imagery is just incredibly powerful and evil, and its a perfect track to close an incredible album. This segment from it is particularly powerful when matched with Nergal’s passionate roar:
Let the children come to Thee
Behold the Morning Star
Shine thru me
Come forth in war
Come forth in peace”
The CD also comes with a bonus DVD, containing a fantastic concert “Live Barbarosa” filmed in Russia, as well as a thirty minute documentary, with Nergal’s thoughts on the concepts behind “The Satanist”. The booklet is also filled with descriptions of each song and the themes behind it, as well as the lyrics, it is a really complete package.
This isn’t just another blackened death metal album, here Behemoth have really delivered an intense work, filled with fantastic music and imagery. This is their most mature and complete album to date, and is sure to be one of the metal albums of the year, if not the decade. It’s an absolute masterpiece of extreme metal, and mixes bludgeoning heaviness with intelligent lyrics and musical nuance that goes far beyond their peers, and cements their place as one of the most important bands in contemporary extreme metal. Every track is just brilliant, there’s no room for any filler.With over twenty years of recording history and ten albums its really incredible that they can still release an album so sincere, breathtaking and monumental, “The Satanist” is simply a real behemoth of an album (sorry!)
Originally written for swirlsofnoise.com
Without music, life would be a mistake
If you haven’t heard of Behemoth by this point you’re either new here or are that guy who claims to be a metalhead while proclaiming Tool as the heaviest and most technical thing to grace the musical world. Over the last 23 years, Behemoth has established itself as a powerhouse in the world between black and death metal. Five years after their last record, Evangelion was released, we are met with the newest from Behemoth, The Satanist. A massive success on the charts right out of the gates, The Satanist is looking to be Behemoth’s most successful record yet. Musically, a movement has been made pushing the focus of the band back towards their original black metal roots while maintaining a strong death metal presence.
Jumping straight into things with the first track, “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel”. It starts off interesting enough, a reasonably catchy intro that starts off slow and doomy building up at an agonizing rate to peak somewhere over the two minute mark, where the song breaks with a nice bass fill that drops into something that should awaken the listener, assuming they started to drift off at some point during the last few minutes of the exact same riff being played. The song ends fairly aggressively only to fall back into the same agonizing pace a few tracks later. It’s like listening to someone slowly flatline with the occasional palpitation to keep things moving. “Furor Divinus” is actually one of the strongest tracks off the album. It maintains an aggressive feel that really does a great job of accelerating the pace of record, which is not a job the second track should have.
The most frustrating part of all of this is the fact that there are a lot of really strong musical elements that I really enjoy. The really thick, growling bass tones that are worked into the tracks are great! You can actually hear what Orion is doing and I love it! Then you get the horn section playing for a brief time on the track that you would assume should have horns. I actually really liked the addition of the brass work into it all because were it not in there, that track would have probably lost all of my interest and then put me completely to sleep. The presence of instruments that aren’t usually seen in this kind of extreme music was rather refreshing, albeit bittersweet since it was so short lived. Maybe that was just me hoping to hear some crazy brass work after it having been done so well by Cephalic Carnage a few years back. Half way through “In the Absence ov Light” we are met with an absence ov music while a spoken word sample takes over. Again, bittersweet moments here. The whole spoken word thing was pretty intense the first time with the return of some sexy sax work making the track feel like we were in some dark, late 90’s coffee shop listening to bad poetry. After a few more listens, the whole thing quickly began feeling like a sort of crutch, like the Behemoth version of breakdowns. They even use another version of spoken word breakdowns on the next track! Better yet, they didn’t even transition out of it well, either! The second the guy was done talking, they immediately go back to full throttle blasting that we’d seen just scarcely by this point. Where is the musical prowess in that? There are millions of ways to have moved out of the spoken word section that would have made sense and not been so abrupt. Perhaps with some more of the doomy bass and drum work that they didn’t abuse whatsoever throughout the entirety of the record as is.
After being around for so long, you’d think that Behemoth would have a stronger grasp on the musical concepts that define the genre they’re working in. I get trying to push the boundaries and be edgy and avant-garde, but they were way off the mark here. There seemed to be so much emphasis on ‘artistry’ and image that they lost sight of the fact that there is far more to the actual music. You can take all the artistic liberties you want with your music, but that does not mean they’ll go over well with your fan base, who are your fans for the simple reason that they love the direction you’d been going in. If you disagree here then you should go take a listen to Illud Divinum Insanus. There is plenty of artistic liberty being taken there, but I’ve never seen an album go over that poorly with fans. When it comes down to it, there are really strong aspects of this record that are overshadowed by the sub-par writing and over emphasis on image. I enjoyed it for the most part, but quickly forgot most of the tracks and walked away feeling like I was missing something. The record doesn’t stick with you, it doesn’t grab you by the shirt and beat you into submission like a proper death metal record should do. I understand the move towards the avant-garde and different, but this was a pretty strong miss for me.
The Satanist is the long-awaited tenth album of Behemoth. Five years have passed since Evangelion came out and Nergal has since then trumped death and defeated leukaemia. An impressive feat, to say the least. Looking back a little, Demigod was a huge renaissance for the band in 2004 and it totally floored me the first time I heard it back the - it sounded like nothing else I’ve heard before - and in that sense it has some similarities to this album.
You could call The Satanist a second renaissance, which takes the musical concept of Behemoth into another new direction. These tendencies were hinted at during the more epic-sounding moments of Evangelion and to me personally, this development is both positive and negative. I think the grandiose, horn-laden Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel is absolutely phenomenal with its sort of progressive, yet insanely heavy, black metal structure. There is a large sense of build-up in the song and when it eventually reaches its climax I get goose bumps almost every time.
Another thing I really like is the sort of primal black metal feeling to some of the riffs in songs such as Furor Divinus and Amen. To me, it sounds like Nergal had Mayhem’s Deathcrush on repeat while writing some of the stuff here. And just in the same way that Nergal excellently composes build-up and structure in the individual songs, the album slowly builds up against its climax, O Father O Satan O Sun! It’s an epic song in the same spirit as Lucifer, which closed the last album, and although it’s not the most brutal song on the album I can’t do anything but surrender to the great melodies, the epic feeling and Nergal’s fantastic vocals.
I have two main objections with this album. First and foremost, the production just sounds too weak. It is way more of a commercially viable production than they’ve been going for earlier, and I imagine that this album could attract people who aren’t really into this type of music otherwise - but in my opinion, there is not really any brutality in the sound, which is a shame. The prime example of this is the title track with its rock groove and while, granted, it’s a decent song with a really powerful chorus, there’s a fine line between accessible and too accessible. And I’m not really sure on which side of that line to place some of the stuff from The Satanist.
Listening to The Satanist on its own, I kind of tolerate the flaws in the production and the sort of hit-feeling in some of the songs. I mean, yes, Conquer All from Demigod is as close to a death/black metal hit song as you possibly get but you still feel kind of assaulted after listening to it. When listening to The Satanist immediately after Demigod, The Apostasy or Evangelion there is something I’m missing. That insane power from those albums - that in-your-face, relentless force that I loved is sadly absent. However, although I maybe won’t be listening to The Satanist a lot in the future, I think there’s a huge audience for it out there.
Originally written for www.metalcovenant.com
The Satanist was a bit of a stunner for me, because I've never been the most vocal advocate of Behemoth. I like a lot of their albums, sure, from both the earlier black metal period and the transition into a more mainlined brutality, but there has long been this sort of vibe rolling off generation Hot Topic that this is somehow the greatest band since, like, Pantera. That their albums and videos have achieved some form of death metal nirvana, reflected through their successful tours, sales, and at in their home country of Poland, a sense of mainstream legitimacy that few extreme metal acts could claim. This is not necessarily any fault of the band, which works hard and puts out a consistent level of product; but if I'm being truthful, it's difficult for me to think of Behemoth as this messianic (or anti-messianic) force in metal. Though I've bought and enjoyed a number of their post transition records from the late 90s and beyond, I find them little more than a re-branding of aesthetics already present in bands like Morbid Angel, Deicide, Vader, Marduk, Dark Funeral and Krisiun. Maybe they have better stage costumes and makeup department, maybe they've got better art direction packaging on their albums, and surely Nergal is far more consumed by occultism than a lot of the death metal diocese which would claim otherwise, but the fact is that most of their music blasts straight into one ear and out the other...
Not the case for The Satanist, which has been for me the first instance in which Behemoth truly lives up to the surrounding hype; an album that is not only phenomenally well-written, but boasts production standards that crush the fucking sun. Not a major stylistic deviation from their last few discs, but the plotting here at long last seems to translate into an actual slew of songs that I feel like listening to repeatedly, which is more than I could say for stuff like Evangelion, which possesses a proficient, punishing quality that seems to plateau at 'good', eluded by 'greatness' and only ever broken out when I want a reliable, indistinct bludgeoning. The Satanist is just such a more well-rounded experience...blast beats are weighted off against genuine moments of poignant atmosphere and restraint. Individual tunes are distinguishable from one another, and after hearing one I couldn't quite put my finger on what would happen in the next. The death and black metal genre tropes which have shaped Nergal's career are more evenly balanced, and the robust production aesthetics and the precision instrumentation have just never sounded better. While The Satanist is still not a perfect outing, and leaves some area for further expansion, it oozes conviction from every pore. We all know Darski had a rough spell health-wise, but that this is a testament to his survival gives it all the more impact. Coming back stronger and superior is after all a chief virtue of Satanic self-enlightenment, and so I'm not at all surprised he chose the absurd profundity of its overt title.
At any rate, much of the album is still a locomotive of seamless blasted structures which weave together the resonant tremolo picking and mildly dissonant chord choices, ominous octave chords sliding around the underbelly of hellish beats and Nergal's powerful if not entirely nasty sounding growls. If you were worried that the advance snippets of "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel" somehow lacked the intensity you'd come to expect, tracks like "In the Absence ov Light" or "Amen" make short work of the assumption like a hurricane whipping through a field of origami blossoms. The bass tone on the album deserves particular praise, it's just so fat and voluptuous and only ever loses some presence when the band is blasting full force, but there is just never a moment where the compositions feel 'empty' or lacking...layers of rhythm guitars or wailing and blustering lead passages always arrive, or tempo shifts where that fat, fat low end starts pummeling into your imagination like an infernal juggernaut. The ambient orchestration that both sets up "Blow Your Trumpet Gabriel" into those enormous riffs, and returns, even more horrifying in the bridge, was the perfect touch to balance out what are occasionally average chord choices. In fact, I wish this had occurred more often through The Satanist than it did, but thankfully the record is ridiculously effective regardless.
Lyrically, it's not a departure from anything else Behemoth has done in the last 15 years, but as with the mix on the bass, the vocals are just gruesome and over the top. You can feel the guy barking his guts out as he drives all the evil ego-tripping home. He sounds revitalized, recharged, and though I doubt the purpose of an album like this is 'fun', that is ultimately the effect of such a visceral, convincing performance. Their albums have always had that sense of entertaining intimidation. 'Look how fast we can play! Look how great we look! Look how comfortable we are in our wicked skins!' But then I'd put on one of the better efforts from Lost Soul, Calm Hatchery, Decapitated or almost anything from Vader and smirk at how much more I preferred their songwriting capabilities. Suddenly, Nergal and company belong amongst that crowd. Not that they weren't already a more smashing financial success, enjoying a level of popularity flush with Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir, but I can no longer safely relegate them aside to the ranking of 'overrated', or dismiss them like a snob. This is a genuinely excellent album, both in appearance and sound, caving in my skull nine times straight and making everything before it seem like the warmup. There is still a distance to go before I can hail a Behemoth disc as a masterpiece for all the ages, but The Satanist at least flirts with that idea, and inspires belief beyond barren praise.
After five years Behemoth releases their tenth album ‘’the Satanist’’ which is not what I was expecting, but they still managed to surprise me with a well-crafted and honest work.
The general feeling in this album is darker than their previous works; it has an obscure halo with great atmospheres and great harmony, the bass guitar has distinguished arrangements that seem great figures. Orion’s work is more distinguished compared to previous albums. Nergal’s and Seth’s guitars are great, they sound wholesome and they make killer riffs that create a perfect combination between black and death metal. Trumpets and French horns top it all off making the work feeling evil and elegant at the same time. What does not strike me is that the band put aside the heavy dragged riffs or kind of break downs that they used to play in tracks like the end of ‘’Daimonos’’. Those riffs are a great contribution for their music from my point of view, but this album can compensate with the dark atmosphere that I already mentioned.
‘’Blow your Trumpets Gabriel’’ for me it was not a great opener: songs like ‘’Daimonos’’ in ‘’Evangelion’’, or ‘’Sculpting the Throne of Seth’’ in ‘’Demigod’’ are way more effective and victorious! That song would have worked great as a third track. We can find more black metal influence in themes like the faster ‘’Furor Divinus’’ or the occult and passionate ‘’Messe Noir’’. But it was tracks ´´Amen´´ and ´´In the Absence of Light´´ that I find more brutal with heavy blasts, furious riffs, and creepy desolating interludes. Lyrics are exceptional in this album it seems to attack not only Christianity, but Judaism and islam too, the diseases that break the human apart from their own selves. And, has many mythological aspects, is interesting to note that the ‘’sun ‘’ is frequently mentioned maybe as the meaning of god who represents the oppression. I can conclude it can be metaphors of common sense against stupidity, the arrival of your joy and your consciousness.
The full of adrenaline‘’Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer’’ and the imperial ‘’Ben Sahar’’ will remind you they still hold the scepter in this industry. Something that I find weird was the track title ‘’The Satanist’’ the details in the bass and the drum rolls arrangements are cool, but it has this rock and roll chorus in a black metal aspect. At the end ‘’O father O Satan O Sun’’ is a great final for the album, all the instruments make a good combination to sound with more profound intensity in a melancholic environment, is a different track than other behemoth stuff and is awesome.
In essence, Behemoth is offering something different, but their trademark is there, it seems they just found the way to express their emotions on this album better. My only complaint is the absence of heavy dragged riffs. Nergal voice sounds deeply convincing. I believe that after listening to this album more than once you can get completely absorbed in the message and emotions that they want to communicate through the music as a meaning of translation it. In one word enjoy it!
I have a love/hate relationship with Behemoth. Some of the work they have done is undeniably outstanding, while on the other hand their more recent work has been a pretty big miss with me. Where did it all go wrong?
To me, Demigod is the last truly great Behemoth album. I remember really enjoying that record when it came out, almost as much Zos Kia Cultus which came before it. They had the energy, the drive, the motivation and the most importantly, the riffs to drive their music across, not shying from using sheer power and force to suck you in.
What we have now seems to be a mere shadow of what was once a great band. It sounds like Behemoth are trying too hard to be Behemoth, if that makes sense. After being somewhat let down by “The Apostasy” (it had a hard album to follow) and even more let down by “Evangelion”, I was expecting greatness this time.
So why is “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” such a snooze fest? It sounds like it’s on the right path with an intro which is clearly classic Behemoth, yet it takes the song over two minutes to kick in properly, and when it does, it just sounds like a mess. I absolutely hate the mix on this album – the guitars sound like shit, you can’t hear the bass, and even the vocals seem to be recorded underwater or something. If this is the return of Behemoth, then oh dear. This is not what I would call a good start.
The next track however, “Furor Divinus” somewhat redeems the first track. At least it has some sort of pace to it, something to say. It’s nothing I would call great, but it’s not bad either.
After somewhat painfully plodding through the next few tracks, the problems with the album become quite clear. First of all, it sounds like shit. No, it’s not my headphone setup. If my Fiio DAC and Shure SE535’s can’t make it sound good, then it just simply doesn't sound good. If you were to put this CD in your car, it would probably sound like elephants having sex. Second, the album seems to be lacking in riffs. You know, actual riffs, which drive a song forward and stick in your head. The riffing here is very basic, more atmospheric rather than actual, solid rhythms. It’s just not a style I enjoy or find interesting.
I know I will get blasted for the next reason, and that’s the vocals. Nergal’s vocals are actually annoying the shit out of me now. He sounds like a mix of a hardcore screamer, and a black metal screecher . In short, he just sounds like shit. It sounds so pseudo “tough guy” that at times it just becomes downright annoying. Maybe it’s a good thing that the album sounds like it was recorded in a fucking volcano somewhere, as I believe the engineer forgot to turn the fucking reverb down somewhere along the way. Or maybe it was done on purpose and the boys thought it sounded cool and eerie – well it doesn't it just sounds fucking stupid, and even with a $1000 setup I can’t make out what’s going on half the time.
The more I listen to it, the more certain things start to annoy me. Like, stop spelling “of” incorrectly. The V and F keys are very close to the keyboard, perhaps it was just a typo back in the day and they thought it sounded more kvlt or something. But it doesn't. It just sounds fucking stupid. If it has some other purpose besides sounding fucking retarded, then someone please enlighten me. Though I’m quite sure it’s just an effort to appear more kvlt. Thing is, the joke or whatever it is wore off a long time ago. Now you just appear to be three dudes dressed in clothes no one wears anymore, paints their faces, and can’t even spell.
To top it all off, the riffs simply aren't that good. Just not good enough. For the most part, it just sounds like Morbid Angel worship. The guitars are nowhere near interesting enough, the bass is in the somewhere - if you strain for it than you can hear it. But when you do, unfortunately it's nothing special. The only acceptable part about these songs are the drumming - yet sadly, just good drum playing does not make good songs.
Behemoth seems to be focusing more on their costumes and photo shoots rather than writing actual good songs people can remember, which is a shame. Maybe there are some songs on here that will pass for good, problem is, you can’t hear them properly. Kind of like what happened to Deicide’s “Till Death Do Us Part” – that album just sounded like total shit, no amount of good songs could redeem it. Kind of the same thing here.
It really is disappointing. Right after I gave this album its final spin after spending about a week of my time on it, I put on “Decade of Therion” and was blown away. Clear, concise, proper song writing. No gimmicks and idiotic sections which only distract the listener. The only redeeming quality on this album is Inferno’s drumming. Too bad it’s mostly lost in a sea of bland riffs, amateurish orchestral sections and that shitty sound which they've adopted.
Such a shame. “The Apostasy”, “Evangelion” and now “The Satanist”.. that’s three strikes in a row, Behemoth.
"The Satanist" is the portal into which Behemoth's evolution, trials, tribulations, and triumphs all remain in dark meditation. I won't exhaust the long list of issues that landed the group in a state of dormancy for several years, but traces of Behemoth’s journey are more evident than ever throughout "The Satanist," which is an extremely significant restoration in both sound and style. I've always held the band's black metal releases above "The Apostasy" and other records based more on the foundations of death metal, but "The Satanist" stands with a profound element of power with more dynamism than their other works. "The Satanist" is a superb blend of Behemoth's musical evolution through growth and distress, towering in a renewed sense of vitality. It is exceptional work.
"The Satanist" is a synthesis of Behemoth's various eras yet something beyond them all; rebirth, a theme not foreign to the group, gives way to what is definitely the most profound musical direction of any testament before it. The black metal elements make a dramatic presence in the death metal spine, returning Behemoth to a form that would fit more in the vein of God Dethroned or Belphegor than, say, the Nile-ish works of yesteryears—the strengthening of these elements leads to an incredibly passionate and artistic assault. It's essentially a masterful culmination of all faces and masks worn by the band, led by the epic march of doom of "O Father O Satan O Sun!" and followed closely by "In the Absence ov Light," a sinister onslaught of dark atmosphere and ferocious riffing.
But I can't in good conscience downplay the rest of the record: the other songs dawn on a new age for Behemoth that eclipses most of their prior releases. Everything "The Satanist" offers makes it a massacre of blasphemous blasting, starting strong with the macabre atmosphere of the boiling "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel" and progressing into the sin-loaded chambers of blackened death metal mastery throughout "Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer" and "Messe Noire." The potent anthems are complimented by the tightest, strongest, most electrifying performances that have ever appeared on any Behemoth record; the unit sounds utterly ravenous and profane, especially Nergal, whose barks are clean and organic against the blackened backdrop and sound much better than the guttural bellows of his previous efforts.
I never would have guessed in a million years that an album of this quality was still in Behemoth's arsenal of cabalistic violence, but the Polish squad has reincarnated its craft and looks sharper than ever. Nergal's voice has never been stronger; the songwriting is extremely vigorous and dominant, leaving no track to capsize; Inferno's percussion remains top-notch; and the production satisfies the musical direction immeasurably. All in all, the blackened death metal direction of "The Satanist," whether it'd been intentional or not, leaves not a single throat of its impious tribe athirst. "The Satanist" is just fantastic from start to finish; it is Behemoth's finest endeavor, and a monumental victory in many forms.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
The Apostasy was the first Behemoth record I bought, about when it came out. The beguiling idolatry and symbolism in the cover art and lyrics, just as with Nile a couple years before, connected with my existing interests in ancient civilizations and mythology. Whether consciously or unconsciously the modern death metal released in the last seven years have been subjected to far greater scrutiny than they might have otherwise been as a result of that trip to whatever now-defunct record store in Hereford it was. I really dug the mix of brutality and canny songwriting - stuff like 'Be Without Fear', unforgettable. Having subsequently devoured the band's discography, what The Apostasy still had over Demigod was its greater level of conceptual wholeness, as did Evangelion over The Apostasy, and this third in the trilogy of what I believe to be Behemoth's best albums takes that a triumphant step further - even if it is less consistent and I find it tougher to proclaim it a giant leap for mankind. Not that it needs to be.
Behemoth draw moods and styles from across their history and across music for this opus. The Satanist is a fitting entrant in the band's recent catalogue, and has a few surprises - although nothing too scandalous, I personally feel. I feel like the unexpected ton-weight, doom-inflected slow-burner 'Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel' is a superb way to open this record. Really cool stuff - I can't get enough of that booming central riff, and those horns. And it all makes the inevitable eruption into sound barrier defiling mayhem all the more satisfying. I enjoy the elegant way Behemoth have contextualised the things that have made them "famous", and if there's a bit of a groovy break here and there, bit of atmosphere splashed on, I'm still not missing out on the blazing wrath of 'Amen'. Yup, 'Amen' is full-on blasting blasphemous death metal and it sounds killer (along with its mid-paced, bass-led break, neat). Along with the opener, this is definitely one I can listen to on repeat.
Elsewhere established tropes are put to fresh stones and ground into something new, something potent. 'Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer' has a bit of a The Apostasy/ Evangelion feel to its ranting sermons and throaty bass rhythms, but with a feral feel to it brilliantly accented by the memorable chorus which, fair enough, just rips off the Lord's prayer. The title track has a more atmospheric, rocking vibe to it - contrasted with the pin-sharp patterns and continued heaviness of the drums. But it sounds at parts like a more dangerous Swallow the Sun or Barren Earth thang, with like this driving Moonspell-esque chorus section.
Their mixing and matching is rarely covert or in any way abashed. There is a whiff of Deathspell Omega on the aptly French-titled 'Messe Noire', which also has a lot of that sort of "ritualistic" feel a lot of bands are going for right now. Some nail it, some pooch it - Behemoth work it in pretty well. But that dissonant, whirring thing they've got going on in this song and 'In The Absence Ov Light' is a bit too deliberately DsO/ Ulcerate for me not to notice it. Like I said it is nothing too scandalous, and the good thing about any record with Inferno is that I can always just tune out of what Nergal is doing and listen to what the percussionist Polish mastermind is up to. There is definitely an overt black metal feel to 'Furor Divinus' as well, at least in the mold of blasting Swedish and German bands, and I do feel like that might be as a result of black metal's resurgence in magazine popularity at the moment. To be cynical, Behemoth are in a good position being able to sway to one side or the other depending on what's popular. Still, I enjoy it for what it is. And to be fair to 'em, they did used to be a fucking black metal band straight up. The broth they are stirring these ingredients into is very much their own, and is in that respect as fresh as I need it to be. I also like how they recorded a cover of Led Zep's 'Kashmir' to finish on. Otherwise brilliantly titled as 'O Father! O Satan! O Sun!' I joke but honestly once you realize the similiarity you won't be able to un-realize it. It's upbeat, anthemic, it makes me grin, but it is highly emotional and is a decent closer. It, amazingly, feels like Behemoth. Kind of a theme here.
The riffs unleashed, alongside the increasingly important melodies, are honestly infectious, but I'm pleased to note Orion's increased role in informing the direction and feel of the songs. I'm a sucker for a good bass performance, and like many a record The Satanist is only improved by the loud, proud presence of some articulate playing. Inferno's drumming is really interesting to listen to - his blasts are as immaculate as ever, but I enjoyed that the album begins with slower beats from him to establish his role as a rounded percussionist and personality within the band. Throughout he does some interesting things, different rhythms, bringing a good deal of character to the songs. His most varied and scintillating performance remains Blasphemer's Maledictions by Azarath, but this is a great showing.
One outright complaint is that 'In The Absence Ov Light' has a bunch of spoken word stuff over the (otherwise pretty nice) sax section... that I can do without as I generally can't be fucked with spoken word on albums unless it is Vincent Price or similiar. And maybe that 'Ben Sahar' has the whole atmospheric thing going on too, just with an assertive main riff and more drum-rolling, but out of everything here it speaks to me the least. Sometimes it unlocks its secrets to me, but a lot of the time it rolls by on the way to the next song. So as I mentioned right off the bat, the record doesn't have quite the magic mix of consistency and envelope-pushing Evangelion had, at least not on absolutely every song. On the songs not mentioned in this paragraph, yeah, pretty much.
I guess that sums up the record. I know what Nergal's going for, I know where his ideas have come from, but I don't mind. It's all played with enough inspiration and energy that it just come across fuckin' right. I've never prioritised originality in what I spend my days listening to; only that ineffable and hard to pinpoint feeling I get when I feel like the musicians I'm listening to really know what they're doing and are pulling it off with aplomb. If'n ye arsk me, Behemoth remain relevant and powerful in 2014 with this thunderous and efficacious album. Evangelion remains my overall favourite, though several songs here are among my favourites ever recorded by the band.
In truth, it was only a couple of years ago when I really began listening to Behemoth. The brutal drums and harsh guitar riffs were very indicative of Behemoth's 'blackened death' style, and of course Nergal has an incredibly distinctive voice. 'The Satanist' brings a new side to Behemoth, perhaps a more melodic style, but they seem to have pulled it off!
One of the most interesting things about the album is that it is able to mix different styles very well. For example, the first song, 'Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel' has a very slow tempo and has a major focus on Nergal's voice. The song 'Amen', however, is a fantastic example of why people hail Behemoth as a blackened death metal band. The drums are extremely quick, and the guitars are given a higher focus, with very complicated riffs accompanying the brutality of Nergal's voice. Somehow, the transitions between these two styles are pulled off quite well.
Perhaps my favorite thing about this album is the darkness of it. Recently, many bands have lost their focus on making music dark, and have focused on making it shocking. Dimmu Borgir's disappointing album 'Abrahadabra' is indicative of this. However, with the aptly named 'The Satanist', Behemoth have kept their music dark (for the most part) and have not relied on short, shocking lyrics. 'Ora Nobis Pro Lucifer' has extremely extensive lyrics that are not simply stating 'Hail Satan, Hail Satan, Hail Satan', but rather give a story of how and why one would hail Satan, which is an important distinction between blackened death metal and extreme metal. In the song 'O Father O Satan O Sun!', we even hear a thrashy guitar solo (a very impressive one). Behemoth have not completely lost their roots, though, as is shown by the song 'Furor Divinus'. The tempo and beat changes remind me of The Apostasy, with its distinctly different lead-ins and verses.
However, with the song 'In The Absence ov Light', we have a random acoustic bit that does not fit, with a speaking voice that rapidly moves into Nergal's harsh vocals, which, too, does not fit. With this song and parts of the others, there is a feel that Behemoth have tried to make their music more extreme, and rather unfortunately, they have not entirely pulled it off. In the same song (...ov Light), we have what is almost a breakdown, something not generally found in Behemoth songs, but which could potentially appeal to the masses. This is the disappointing bit of the album. While they have kept their dark roots and added some melody into it, with parts of the album, they have progressed with the times to the point of moving towards melodic death metal. I have no problem with melodic death metal, Amon Amarth is one of my all-time favorite bands. But it's not Behemoth. Behemoth is brutal and dark and makes people around you worry about sitting next to you, but it makes you remember why death metal can mean something to you. The lyrics remain meaningful, the riffs are still metal, but something is missing that makes Behemoth distinct from the rest of death metal.
This album, then, is a great listen if you want something dark and something that keeps a desire to create metal separate from a desire to create shock. However, if you're looking for old Behemoth, this is not the album for you. Artists, though, have every right to progress their music as they see fit, and Behemoth have done just that. They've progressed, for the moment, it's worked out, but we've yet to see if they can keep their blackened death roots and incorporate it into the rest of their work. And after a battle with leukemia, it's very difficult to criticize Nergal, as he's released a properly great metal album.
"I believe neither in god nor in reason... give me a man, let him be like me"
~Witold Gombrowicz "The Wedding"
The Satanist was reborn and he spreads the word of the flawed god. It's not a secret that behind all the Behemoth image and occult-based ideology, hides a rather simple yet powerful concept. Instead of looking for the absolute in idealized religious dogmas or the sterile abstraction of science, you should embrace the scarred and imperfect... human.
Even though the message Nergal & Co are spreading is a quite noticeable part of the album, it's the music, obviously, what really matters here. And let me tell you, in terms of originality, production and general flow, this is the best Behemoth album to date. They have at last freed themselves of restraints of their hallmarks. I love how balanced the influences are here - the wind symphonic parts are only where they should be, sound very organic and add tons of atmosphere. Riffs are dense, brutal yet still feel very natural. The band is not afraid to venture into a slower, apocalyptic doom metal sound, or to explore sinister realms of atmospheric black metal. With its flawless pacing, eclectic approach and flying solos, however, The Satanist is first and foremost a heavy metal album. A very heavy metal album. Heavy as hell. Well, anyway...
The Satanist is as inwardly conflicted, full of terror and passion as any of us. I've never really been a fan of the band, but this time round Nergal finally established himself as one of the best blacksmiths in modern extreme rock music. Behemoth's powerful blend of black and death metal was heated in flames of passion and forged with the hammer of creativity. Albums like this usually stand the test of time.
-- Originally written for Metal Music Archives [www.metalmusicarchives.com] --
The news of Nergal's recovery from his struggle with leukemia brought the winds of hope regarding a new Behemoth release. In 2012, all these hopes were materialized as the Polish blackened death metal titans entered the rehearsals room, and started writing new songs for their future album. A few months later, in mid 2013, the title of the new album was announced, and I thought I misread something at first. "The Satanist", why on Earth would any serious and mature band name their album like that? No, really? Disappointed by the title, I expected the album to be worthless...
And so came the release of the first official track (apart from live recordings), entitled "Blow your trumpets, Gabriel!". I gotta admit I was caught unprepared, without expecting how awesome the track would sound. A different, slower intro builds up into one of the most brutal breakdowns in the whole Behemoth discography, just as "Alas Lord is Upon Me" from their previous release, Evangelion, culminates a long buildup with an outburst of energy and hate. The outro to the song is mind-blowing, the blast beats being backed by eery, haunting trumpet sounds that enforce the title. Suddenly, I thought this album might just be better than their previous works, and decided to ignore the horrible title and give it a listen as soon as it appeared. "Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer" was the next track released, only two or three weeks prior to the release of the CD. The song is a monument of aggression, anger, while being melodic and flowing at the same time.
Overall, I'd describe the album as a rather unexpected balance of brutality, chaotic and mind-blowing structures, aggressive blast-beats and beauty, epic passages, melodic choruses and complex riffs. Technically, the album is not superior, but being technical doesn't make an album great. Tracks such as "Amen" are incredibly brutal, Nergal delivering crushing and merciless vocals, matched by the extremely fast drumming Inferno is best known for. Other songs, such as "Messe Noire" or "Ben Sahar" are slower and less brutal, but they show a change in Behemoth's style. Their atmosphere is bleak, dark, but not in the way doom metal is, instead, offering images of the Dark Ages, filth, disease, death and misery. The closing track of the album combines some unusual vocals, not seen in other releases. The almost chanted vocals fit perfectly with the instrumental, and towards the end, the spoken part is of breathtaking beauty, being melancholic and epic at the same time, much in the way of "He Who Breeds Pestilence", off their 2009 album. The drums seem like a power factory, relentless, inexhaustible, dead-on time. Another nice thing is the progressive manner of the album: instead of being linear, the songs evolve and progress constantly, making it a very interesting release.
Lyrically, Krzysztof Azarewicz and Nergal did the same great job from a linguistic point of view. The texts are rich in archaisms, unusual words that contribute to the overall feeling of the album. Structures such as "Great volcano ov excrement" are, however dull it might seem, an important part to the wholeness of the album. However, given the fact that Behemoth have been around for 23 years now, I think that still sticking to the same "satanic" line is...immature. Even though I know they tried to deal with a metaphoric meaning of the word "satan", it's overused and fails to achieve it's purpose. The texts on their previous recordings are way better, without being childish... I mean, what's the point in abusing of the whole "satanic" shit, when you could be blasphemous and incisive in a clever, metaphorical way (as seen in their previous releases).
So, in the end, it's a great, great, great release. I am extremely impressed by the music, and consider it's an album worth listening to. However, the stupid and immature title takes away points for this album, as do the lyrics. Come on, the guys are in their late 30's, why stick to the exceedingly satanic imagery? This is a rebellion suitable for a band that has just begun and the members are only 17, when it's "cool" to be in league with the unholy...
Having reinvented themselves a number of times in the past, Behemoth has done it yet again with their tenth and latest full-length offering, “The Satanist”. Much has been made of Nergal’s inspirational return to the stage and his triumph over Leukemia so it goes without saying that they have a thing or two to prove this time around. However, whether “The Satanist” lives up to the hype is largely a matter of personal opinion. This is an album that will no doubt separate the casual listeners from the diehard fans. One should approach this listening experience armed with the knowledge this it is, in fact, a much slower paced album than usual.
Having said that, this latest opus can still be perceived as a logical next step from its predecessor, “Evangelion”. Where songs like “Lucifer” and “Alas, the Lord is Upon Me” reintroduced an eerie black metal aesthetic that had been absent from their music for quite some time, “The Satanist” reiterates this and expands upon it greatly. Also like “Evangelion”, the album does not go without its fair share of blast beat fury. I’m pleased to say that tracks like “Furor Divinus” and “Amen” shred with the best of their back catalogue, but overall the emphasis is much more on atmosphere rather than blasturbation.
As should be expected from an artist of Adam Darski’s caliber, this record takes you on a journey and practically demands to be listened to from start to finish. The opening cut and lead single, “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel”, sets the perfect primer for the rest of the CD and sums up nicely the diversity on display here. However, things don’t get really interesting until the title track and its follow-up, “Ben Sahar”. Together, these two songs see Darski & Co. exploring some unfamiliar soundscapes and territories that are beyond description, but rest assured when you hear them you will stop whatever it is you’re doing and take notice.
Perhaps the best compliment I can give this record is that each song has it’s own unique character and identity that makes it unmistakably different from the others. Of course, it also has its unifying themes that bring it all together as well. There are some choirs, horns, synths and other such ear-candy that weave their way throughout the album with such subtlety as to only enhance the music and are neither distracting nor take away from the other instruments. Also present are a number of guitar solos that have a curious vintage flair to them. This is not entirely out of place as it seems an appropriate match for the cover art, but one has to speculate what brought this out of Nergal.
The only major criticism I have of this album is that there are some avant-garde qualities to the arrangements that make for an overall sound that is at times maybe a little too similar to Deathspell Omega, a group Darski happens to be a huge fan of. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, there is something to be said for a band that will stick to their guns rather than alter their sound to resemble someone else. Besides that, an eyebrow-raising moment on “In the Absence ov Light” is the only other negative thing this critic has to say about “The Satanist”.
As stated earlier, this album is likely to cause a schism amongst Behemoth’s fans. Some will praise it as a breath of fresh air, a conceptual masterpiece, etc. Still, others will say that the latest offering from Poland’s finest is too far removed from their earlier work. Indeed, it is difficult at moments to believe that this is the same group that released “Demigod” just 10 short years ago. Only time will tell how this new opus will be remembered. My impression is that it is what it is: an honest to god record, straight from the heart, played with conviction, that compromises for no one. Viva blasfemia!
Highlights: Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel, Amen, the Satanist, Ben Sahar
Little has the extreme metal world not known of the difficulties in the build-up to Behemoth's 10th album, the beautifully blunt, brutally brazen "The Satanist". Strong personalities like Nergal simply don't roll over to let life-threatening illnesses take hold. Instead every ounce of strength is mustered in overcoming the odds, meaning such a starkly titled release should be seen as nothing but a victorious proclamation on behalf of their fantastically captivating and confident mainman.
It takes a certain amount of balls to do anything different in the stymied extreme metal scene, and here, for the past few albums at least, Behemoth have taken that challenge to heart. Thematically the band look into the Thelema and Satanism in thought-provoking ways - part of the irony of such an album title than many are sure to read the wrong way - while leading your 'come-back' album with a track titled "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel" is definitely a means with which to turn heads. That song though is one of the most disappointing of the nine. The slow, pounding opening gives way to Nergal's spittle vocals with (sampled) brass sounds and "Hail!" chants effectively building tension as the song progresses, but the crescendo it reaches is messy and over-layered, with staccato riffing sitting uneasily with the angelic heavenly vocals and Inferno's merciless pounding behind the skins. It sounds like Behemoth simply trying too hard to be extreme at these points, while I imagine this forced brutality and reliance on sampling will need a certain amount of artificial help to work well live.
"Furor Divinus" which follows is a big improvement. The early riffing reminding me of Weapon before the blasting speeds up into Belphegor-esque proportions, settling on a blastbeat-driven and decidedly frosty black metal lead rhythm. Such moments bring to mind their 2002 effort "Zos Kia Cultus", my bet for the all-round strongest effort from the Poles, so certainly no bad thing. Suddenly finishing and leading into Nergal proclaiming "I believe in Satan!" for the opening of "Messe Noire", this again displays signs of the band losing control of the reins at the crucial moment as the unsettling synth sounds struggle to adapt to the thumping riffs of Orion and Seth alongside it. The excellent, victorious solos in the latter stages do end the song on a high note before "Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer" rolls into action with perhaps the best riff of the album. It's classic Behemoth all over with Nergal espousing both diction and lead riffing like they're going out of fashion and a much better flow thanks to the removal of much of the synth which cluttered the earlier songs, positively guaranteeing the inclusion of this one in upcoming setlists.
"Amen" is the kind of punchy, vicious assault on the senses that would make Marduk proud, although the clarity of their force gets a little lost in amongst Inferno's battery. The song slows to a bass-led interlude closing in the same destructive in which it begun, leading into the nuanced opening of the slower title track. It's melodic lead guitar lines somewhat drown out the backing synth harmonies as the song somewhat plods along devoid of the purpose that is apparent elsewhere, while "Ben Sahar" commences in a similarly progressive manner til the breakout of an archetype Behemoth neck-snapping tempo leads the song towards "In the Absence Ov Light". The deathly apocalypse that is it's rambunctious blastbeat-infested opening marks the first of three distinct sections, making way for a brass-backed spoken word interjection from Nergal - in Polish, natch - before viciously breaking for destructive waters again. The contrast of heavy to soft in the song perhaps sounds odd on paper but oh boy does it work well. Closer "O Father O Satan O Sun!" is the most thoughtful in construction of the lot, bookending the album in two slower tracks and in turn revealing Nergal's disposition to unearthly forces with an interesting dialogue through the progression of the song that only ends when the fading sounds of amplification and brass herald their final call.
Regardless of the result of their efforts I have never failed to be impressed with the honesty and tenacity of Nergal, through a time in which he has reached celebrity status in his homeland and conquered serious illness. No thoughts of softening their stance, "The Satanist" marks a return of epic proportions and, even if such a sheer force of will has sent a few of the tracks past the periphery of effectiveness, one is hard-pressed to not feel thankful for what this unbowed foursome bring to the world of extreme metal.
Originall written for www.Rockfreaks.net