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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