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Thelema.6 is definitely a weird album coming from Behemoth. Introducing myself to the band via Evangelion, and later Zos Kia Cultus, Thelema.6 required several listens before it slowly opened itself up to appreciation. With Evangelion being, in my opinion, a great introduction to Behemoth, and Zos Kia Cultus having song after song of intensive death metal riffing that never ceased to be perfect, Thelema.6 comes across as a little strange, not like the beasts of the other 2 mentioned albums. But repeated listening reveals an album with great songs, production, and enjoyment to be had.
Production wise, everything is solid. The guitars sound good, Nergal’s voice is menacing and passionate, and the drums have the perfect production that makes Inferno’s consistent blast sections just sound amazing.
As a whole, and speaking general, Thelema.6 can essentially be divided into 2 parts – the first part being the opener up to “Christians to the Lions”, and the second part being the rest of the album. Cutting the album in half, we find the first-half of Thelema.6 more-or-less “Orthodox Behemoth”, while the latter half gets stranger and stranger until the album ends. But don’t take this to be a bad thing. There is much enjoyment to be had over this album as a whole, as long as it is given a little patience.
Over the first half of the album, we find what is to be expected of the band around this period. Heavy riffing, usually at a fast tempo, Nergal growling out passionate words condemning Abrahamic religion and embracing unorthodox philosophical ideas, while Inferno pounds away at his drums like a madman. It’s never overdone though, and the beating and blasting and double-bass never gets boring, even if we find the same kinds of drum patterns in most of the songs. “Antichristian Phenomenon” is a great opener, teasing with its mid-paced opening before it erupts into tremolo riff madness and Inferno pounding away. This is the longest song on the album, and still under 5 minutes. These early songs contain lots of unique riffing, but nothing is too unorthodox yet, and especially here, but over the course of the entire album, Behemoth know how to put together great riffs with powerful blasting to run you over.
Once we get past the live-favorite, fast and brutal “Christians to the Lions”, the album changes to a slightly different beast. As we go on through the rest of the track-list, the album gets stranger and stranger. The riffing gets more weird and unique, the song titles get stranger, and the lyrics get much stranger. Take “The Universe Illumination”, which, after opening up, sports a chugging riff and keys in the background, very bombastic and epic while still being strange, before moving to tremolo riff goodness and highly-passionate vocals from Nergal. Or the next track, “Vinvm Sabbati”, with its restrained, melodic opening riffs, before the strangest verses on the whole album commence. This song never even gets really fast or blasts at all, nor does the closer, “23 (The Youth Manifesto)”, which features a tapping riff and Nergal growling about his life journey so far, before transitioning into a slow, chugging riff with double bass and industrial effects, to finally fade out. My version doesn’t have album closer “The End”, but if I recall it well, it’s just static/effects for 20 seconds until Nergal screams one weird line into your ear, ending the album.
However, over the course of the whole album, a few things constantly hold true: the riffing, whether heavy death metal or tremolo picking or chugging or the weird stuff, is always memorable and likely to get stuck in your head with repeated listens, and Inferno can do no wrong with his mostly blasting and double-bass drumming.
Thelema.6 is worth the patience that is probably required to get into the album. Don’t be alarmed by the strange cover-art, song titles, or song descriptions. This album is unmistakably Behemoth, and is definitely worth purchase.
*Get the digipak version with the 4 bonus tracks – 1 original song, 2 covers, and 1 re-recording of an old song, and they’re all good*.
Yeah I though that reviewing Behemoth’s entire discography fatigued me and required other bands to refresh my senses, but this was the least of excuses. Trying to sit the entire album is equivalent to taking the SAT (for Americans), the STAT (for Australians), or the Abitur (for Germans) all over again.
For some reason I find a real lack of substance and charm that the other albums carried with them. I could notice these traits upon first listen, but with this one the vibe is lost and it’s hard for me to sit through even the first song without wanting to hear another band or even just past Behemoth songs (which might as well classify as another band if I wanted to go back far enough).
Although the atmosphere is completely dead, I will acknowledge that some songs are pretty good. Most of them have a decimating groove to headbang along with; the most prominent being in the single “Antichristian Phenomenon,” “Natural Born Philosopher,” and the last three tracks (excluding “The End”). Regardless, every song sounds rushed, inconsistent, and somewhat experimental. Hearing Satanica one can identify a theme and the epicness entailed, resulting in throwing up the horns or writing a twenty page college essay on the matter. With this album, it’s much harder to digest and I’m not even sure if it’s worth it since most of the songs just don’t have the strength to hold their own.
We get more of an ancient, Middle Eastern tuneful tracklist with the lasting power of a melodeath band and the force of a second-rate death metal clone. It’s a lousy combination with lackluster consequences, a shame considering what Behemoth were capable of and what they will be capable of after this album. Drumming is by far the most consistently awesome part about Behemoth’s music, with the shortcomings of this album not hindering the performance at all. Surely, it may seem out of place with a constant barrage of blast beats and all, but Inferno’s pace, striking power, and endurance all come in at equally correct moments – all of which sounding hefty, witty, and unrestricted. He sounds much better on other albums, but I wouldn’t question his authority of this music.
With that said, production sounds inferior to Satanica, which had qualities that made you feel caught in a storm of locusts. That production completely surround and proceeded to trample over you, while Thelema.6 merely has very good production that sounds a volume notch lower and doesn’t have any motivation or inspiration at all.
Guitar potency, as mentioned, leans towards Middle Eastern clemency, plays melodically, hastily (lots of tremolo), and produces some grooves that are catchier than others. With the same amount of time it wastes on pinch harmonics, dull riffs, and other nameless styles that keep the songs more experimental than progressive. They’re a little lower than the drumming in the mix, but somehow capitalize on leaving out the bass. It’s possible to hear it, but unlike the other albums the bass doesn’t seem to leave such a mark – shitstain or otherwise. Generally it follows the rhythm, which isn’t independent, but at the same time it’s all it can hope to accomplish in a work like this.
Considering the pace (I’d consider them “fast” enough) and hell even the length of the songs, you better be able to digest, analyze, and write up a lab report before each of them end. Otherwise, you either won’t care or be forced to go back and listen to the songs again, and again, and again, and again. As a last note, Nergal’s growl also sounds drowned out between the instruments – kind of like he’s distanced himself from the mic. His yell / scream / growl is fluttered and faded – vicious in execution but airy and thin in actuality.
While containing some killer tracks, this album doesn’t hold up against its peers in nearly all accounts. It’s a fair deal – at this point being the last fair deal gone down. Oh yeah and I hate the cover.
My first couple of listens of this album didn't really impress me; the first Behemoth release I ever acquired was 'Demigod', so everything beyond that tends to be underwhelming for obvious reasons. It was only after that I learned to listen to 'Thelema.6' as a somewhat more standard death metal album rather than the verging on unpleasantly epic style the band would later craft that I began to enjoy it more fully. I still don't think it's a great release; it's rather uneven and the structuring and pacing of the album is questionable at best, but it has enough gems amidst its tracks to make it a worthwhile listen for fans of the band.
The central issue that prevents this from being a more notable Behemoth album is the very strange pacing; starting with the rather awkwardly midpaced opening of 'Antichristian Phenomenon' (which, in many ways, foreshadows the band's later direction), it starts an album full of awkward notes off on... an awkward note. Even within themselves, the songs tend to be all over the place rhythmically and in regards to tempo, and you could say that at no point does 'Thelema.6' ever settle into its own skin, so to speak. The best, most enduring tracks off this album tend to be the simplest and most direct such as 'Christians To The Lions', while others often attempt to make a compromise between more experimental, progressive leanings and catchiness and end up being less for them. 'Thelema.6' is an album full of great but very isolated moments, and I would go as far as to say that this is probably Behemoth's most difficult album to absorb despite its not unreasonable length.
But let's back up a bit and look at the overall sound of the record. A very clearly transitional work in Behemoth's catalog, one can practically hear the last strains of their black metal past being used up on this release, with some of the riffs, though distinctly Behemoth in nature, certainly lean in a more black metal direction, which would be mostly gone by the next full-length. This is riff and vocal-dominated; Inferno's drumming, while still very good, doesn't yet possess the intense and almost obscenely forward nature it would later carry, leaving Nergal's voice to fill in a lot of the rhythmic gaps. Production tends to accentuate the vocals before everything else, particularly because the instrumental production is somewhat flat and overly simply mixed; nothing stands out, much in the same way as early death metal production tended to be.
In essence, Behemoth on this album was making epic-style songs within very constrained timeframes, making for an almost Amon Amarth style of instant climaxes with no real release of tension. The riffing, through predominantly death metal, has black metal's flair of artistry and texture about it, which actually goes a long way to give the music an almost avant-garde vibe, particularly when accentuated by the highly discrete and swiftly changing song structures (brought on by track length). The pace of the album generally hovers around a mid to fast with occasional slow, vast sections placed here and there to punch things up, but the rather immediate nature of the structural changes makes this come off as being particularly varied and swiftly moving. I've probably been spoiled by a great deal of black and doom metal, but the longest track being still under five minutes makes this a very quickly moving release. Some things, though, are difficult to explain; the weird covers, the very strange song titles, and the overall feeling of this being a compilation of tracks rather than a complete work are all among them.
This isn't my favorite Behemoth release by a long shot, but it has enough standout tracks ('Natural Born Philosopher', 'Christians To The Lions', etc.) to make it a worthwhile listen. It's certainly a weird part of the band's career, and like most transitional albums, suffers from a rather unfocused delivery, but it's still generally good music that, minus a few hiccups, deserves at least a few listens from the death metal fan.
Wow, Behemoth have really outdone themselves with this one. This is their most evil release without coming off as horrendously cheesy or overly brutal for no reason. Don't get me wrong, I love Zos Kia Cultas and Satanica, but their earlier shit is not too much different from other straight up 90's black metal while Demigod and The Apostasy are so overly and pointlessly brutal that it ceases to even be music anymore. Thelma.6 is their middle ground where they mix both black metal and death metal perfectly and actually succeed at portraying a consistently terrifyingly Satanic atmosphere throughout.
This is where Nergal's guitar work (as well as Havoc's) is at it's most technical and complex. Te best part about it is that it never loses direction or gets lost in technicality, it simply flows beautifully (if you would consider anything Behemoth does "beautiful"). Thelma.6 is also the album where Nergal's vocals are at their most varied range. He mixes death metal growls and black metal high pitch screeches and shouts very respectably. Yes, he over layers them, but he doesn't go bat shit crazy with it like he does on Demigod.
Inferno (yes, he goes by the name Inferno) is almost as unpredictable and out of control as Flo Mounier from his None So Vile days. There is just no telling what this man will do next. The funny thing is, although extremely unpredictable, his drumming never seems to come off as random or unorganized. It actually scares the shit out of me how insane he really is at his instrument.
The lyrics, as expected, are evil as fucking hell. All I have to say is that I highly doubt these guys attend Church every Sunday morning. Yeah, sometimes it comes off as a little cheesy if your not used to death metal lyrics, but they actually are pretty intense lyrics for the genre. If you want the best of Behemoth, get this record and you will not regret it. You'll get the best of Behemoth's death metal and their black metal era in one album, which means you'll get some of the best mix of death and black metal ever recorded.
It's unbelieveable. After the astounding and groundbreaking "Satanica", they take their whole concept a step further. "Thelema.6" is even more technical, Nergal's voice is even more vicious and the song are better structured than ever before. As another reviewer already said, this album is totally unpredictable.
The album starts with "Antichristian Phenomenon" It starts out with a little audio clip which tells us that the human race is unworthy of the gift of life until the awesome main riff starts.... and when I heard it for the first time i just felt like my skull got crushed by a ten-ton hammer. It is that great. After 0:32 the song gets a lot faster and Nergal's scream leads us into the first verse. Oh damn, that shit is fast. Inferno's not only a fucking beast behind the drums, he's the best drummer I have heard, this shows it once again. The solo is wicked, rather long and sounds weird(in a good way). Nergal's playing has also evolved a lot, so has his voice. As the reviewer before me said, Novy does slap the bass and it sounds damn great.
"Act of Rebellion".....yes, it's even faster, but without turning into a mindless blastfest. The guitar melodies in this song are very strange but still catchy as fuck. I don't know how they do it, really. There are a few second-short orchestral parts at the end of riffs, which give a great feeling to the music. The vocal part at "2:35" is one of the moments on the album. It's like Nergal is casting a deadly spell upon you and as soon as he stops, a beautiful solo comes in and rips your head off. As if that wasn't enough, another similar vocal parts comes in...it doesn't get much better than this. Another great solo starts as the song slowly fades out. Awesome.
"Inflamed with Rage" has one of the greatest opening riffs I've ever heard. Nergal's screams want you to jump in and scream along with him. One of the most interesting parts in his voice is that he doesn't growl. It's like he's screaming his lungs out, but without sounding like a black metal singer. I have never heard any vocalist that sounds even remotely similar to Nergal. The song has (again) pretty weird chord progressions (like before), yet they manage to sound totally unique.
"Pan Satyros" is totally insane. Just listen to the first 30 seconds, I won't say anymore about this part, you just have to hear it yourself. I'm sure you haven't heard anything like that before. Some of these strange riffs also appear later throughout the song. This song is less-vocal driven like it's predecessors, but it's a total headbanger. The solo is haunting, too. In some parts it remembers me a little of "Ceremony of Shiva" from the "Satanica" album. This is mainly because of the clean vocals in the background of a verse. Inferno takes my breath away with his amazing skills once again. There are a lot of blastbeats to be found, but he often fills with the gaps with hyperfast and great sounding drumfills.
"Natural Born Philosopher" slowly fades in and takes the concept of "Pan Satyros" even further. Some more rather silent clean vocals fade in with the riffs and appear often throughout the song. You can hear Novy's slapping very well in this song. This song also shows how unpredictable this album is: At 2.14 the song ends...and two seconds later it starts again and turns into a total headbanging monster accompanied by great solos and the wicked clean shouts again. This is maybe one of the strangest songs on here, hell, it even fades out with an acoustic guitar and suddenly turns into full force in the last 15 seconds. Unbelieveable. The song ends with Nergal saying "Your god is dead now". Holy fuck, he really must be dead by now.
"Christians to the Lions". I won't have to explain what this song is about, but I never head a problem with Antichristian lyrics. The song's ultrafast(one of the fastest on the album) and totally devastation. The short solo at 0:26 together with Nergal's scream is totally vicious. Nergal's hatred almost comes through my speakers, his vocals are that great.
"Praise the flame!
watch angels falling from the skies
praise the flame!
I killed thy god
my will is done!
Thou art Lord"
"Inauguration Of Scorpio Dome" starts like a soundtrack to a scary videogame until it starts out with great riffs and extremely difficult drum patterns(Inferno does it easily). "INAUGURATION OF SCORPIO DOME!" Nergal's scream sounds so great here. After he screams it two times there's another one of these strange(but great) sounding passages. A breathtaking, but sadly rather short song.
In The Garden Of Dispersion is less experimental than it's precedessing songs and has some "Decade of Therion"(Satanica) moments before it turns into a great headbanging riff at 1:35! If your neck isn't already crushed yet then it will break here because it gets crushed in the same speed for almost a whole minute. The song ends in highspeed fashion and you can't help but thrashing around like a
You thought that you'd have a break after the last headbanging set? No. There is no break, because we get "The Universe Illumination" which starts out with another headbanging set until the short(but awesome) solo comes in. Nergal's lyrics in this song are fucking great:
"ov circus my world wiseman called
ov drunken trickster bed
and not violators of thoughts they are
for life is a theater
in which actors all we are
but when curtain is open
there is no time for any reh's"
The man is a natural born philosopher. There are also some agyptian(I think) lyrics to be found, but sadly I don't know what they mean because I can't find a decent translator. Nergal's pronounciation sounds damn great, though.
"Vinum Sabbati" has an awesome intro and great doublebass work by Inferno. The song starts really slow compared to the others on this album and maintains in a rather midpaces tempo throughout. The clean vocals appear again, layered together with Nergal's screams. The way he pronounces "VINUM SABBATI" always sends a chill down my spine. One of the greatest solos can be found in this song, at about 1:40. The song has great time signatures and is a little more in the melodic vain than some others here(don't panic, no gothenburg melody).
"23 (The Youth Manifesto)" starts out with a great tapping part and the clean shouts appear again, layered together with a deep voice talking. At 1:12 Nergal's scream comes in and he sounds so good, maybe one of his best performances on this CD. The only annoying thing here is that the song's lenght is 3:58, but only a little more than the half of it is actual music. Because there's a long fade out part which sounds like a recording in a factory. And the outro riff drags out for too long. This song could've been better, the the first two minutes are excellent, though.
Overall, we have an album full of surprises and outstanding performances. Unbelievable that Behemoth has constantly kept their music on this high level. They have not disappointed once since they released Satanica.
An outstanding album from an outstanding band.
Song recommendations: all of them, especially "Antichristian Phenomenon", "The Act of Rebellion", "Inflamed with Rage", "Natural Born Philosopher", "Christians to the Lions" and "Vinum Sabbati".