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Behemoth - Opvs Contra Natvram - 85%

Orbitball, December 4th, 2022
Written based on this version: 2022, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digibook, Lux)

I never really liked this band not because of the lyrical concepts but because I just didn't like the music. I got this one to try out and I love it! Not only is it dark, but the music is anything other than a "B" rating to me. Not so certain about the critics. And since the rhythms were good alongside the vocals, the leads are superb. I didn't much care for 'The Satanist' though it got fair ratings. I may have to get that album. These guys are a dark band but what I'm concerned with are the songs and music. The riffs are (to me) fresh and original. Everyone on here contributed a lot to this probably giving it a "B" without question.

I was pausing when I first heard the intro to Track 1 and despite its eerie beginning, the song segues into some hardcore death metal riffs. So, the mixing went well on this release which did justice to the rest of the album. The vocals are tolerable, and they work alongside the music. Fresh songwriting here and the lead guitars do a great job as well. I was mostly listening for the riffs and vocals. Though all the instruments went in accordance with the rest of the songs. I am surprised since I do have a hard time at this point in my life of songs about Satanism and anti-Christianity. Not even Deicide do I listen to much anymore knowing their lyrics.

That being said, I filtered out the lyrics and just paid attention to the music. I'm thinking of getting more of their releases, just not the overly raw stuff. This one was a well-produced release. I don't really have anything bad to say about it. I'm not giving it a perfect score, but like I said, it's a "B" rating. The album could've been a little longer than 43 minutes, but I think it was adequate. I'm surprised by the negative press. I'm just keeping an open mind to this one. They really did a good job in songwriting and the vocals were good. I am confident that they have more of a longer life to them!

I took a chance and bought the CD. I wasn't convinced after one listen that I liked it. It took numerous listens to to finally get into it. Definitely check it out on streaming services before buying the album. They put out some evil death metal that's worth it if you hear the riffs and vocals. Production quality was sound and the whole album slays! Maybe it'll take you time to warm up to this or maybe not. Maybe you'll hate it but I assure you that I understand. But I wouldn't agree with you on if it's good or not. I think that the whole album is killer. And I curse those giving this one negative press. Own this!

Better than the eleventh, worst than the tenth - 78%

reaper64, November 24th, 2022

Behemoth is a band that has been on the rise for the past decade. Indeed, some would say that they managed to reach a public consciousness comparable to Cannibal Corpse, Mayhem or Death. Many will attribute this explosion in popularity to their tenth album ''The Satanist'' released in 2014, judged by many rock and metal media as one of the best metal albums of the decade, appearing at number 1 in Loudwire and Consequence of Sound magazine, number 4 in metal-archives.com, number 9 in Revolver magazine and number 10 in Louder Sound magazine. Others will attribute the Polish band's rise in popularity to the increased presence of singer, guitarist and front man, Nergal, in the world of social networking. Either way, Behemoth is a band that has gained immense notoriety and therefore, judging the release of a twelfth album without comparing it to "The Satanist" is a challenge. However, before starting the review itself it is important to contextualize "Opvs Contra Natvram".

Behemoth, formed in 1992, has known only two phases throughout their discography. The first of them, covering from 1992 to 1997, can be described as Norwegian-style black metal. It is from their third album, ''Pandemonic Incantations'', released in 1998 that Behemoth innovated and created a style mixing death metal and black metal, thus marking the beginning of their second phase. Each album from 1998 to 2015 were highly praised by critics and cemented this new style of black/death metal. However, their eleventh album, ''I Loved You At Your Darkest'', was heavily criticised and was considered by many as Behemoth’s first mediocre album. It is thus following this highly criticized album that "Opvs Contra Natvram" was released.

The new opus of Behemoth relies more on a symphonic aspect of their music than the first albums of their black/death metal phase. Indeed, the addition of congregation-like choirs in the songs ''The Deatless Sun'', ''Vervs Christvs'' and ''Thy Becoming Eternal'' amplify the satanic atmosphere of the Polish band. Of course, the use of this type of singing reminds us of the last composition on the album ''The Satanist'', ''O Father O Satan O Sun''. Although other pieces such as "Neo-Spartacvs" and "Disinheritance" did not include a choral, the presence of keyboards during these compositions gives the album a feeling of grandiosity. Thus, through its five compositions, we see a desire for Behemoth to recapture the sound perfected during their 2014 album.

Although this album is obviously presented as the logical continuation of "The Satanist", there are still some elements, inspired by the heavy metal style that can be rather associated with "I Loved You At Your Darkest". The compositions ''Once Upon a Pale Horse'', ''Off to War!'' and ''Thy Becoming Eternal'' are the most repetitive and predictable pieces of the album. However, we can find all the characteristic power of the Death/Black metal popularized by Behemoth.

Finally, in terms of influences, black metal is always present, although it is more often intertwined with death metal. The song ''Malaria Vvgata'' is certainly the composition that is closer to the music popularized by the Norwegians in the early 90s.

All in all, "Opvs Contra Natvram" is certainly a return to death/black metal reminiscent of "The Satanist", but some elements related to heavy metal of the type found in "I Loved You At Your Darkest" are still present. For any fan of black/death metal, this is an interesting album, but for those who are looking for a sound that pushes the limits established in 2014 with "The Satanist", they will be disappointed. What is certain is that Behemoth are on a more promising path following ''Opvs Contra Natvram'' than they were after their 2018 album.

Originally written in french for www.metalalliance.ch and english for www.metalbite.com

The true successor to The Satanist, but falls slightly short of it - 83%

fancybeard, November 6th, 2022

If you're inclined to believe the hype behind Behemoth's 2014 monumental album The Satanist, it was heralded to be one of the greatest metal albums of the 2010s upon it's release. As a result, the band exploded in popularity at the time and the album is still highly regarded to this day. Being a young adult myself during the era of The Satanist as well as a massive fan of it, I was eager for it's follow up to come sooner rather than later. Four long years passed, but we finally got I Loved You At Your Darkest in 2018. Despite the negative criticism it received on this site as well as others, I still find parts of that album really enjoyable. Equal parts brave new direction and "tried and true" to the sound of The Satanist, the album did things I never expected to hear on a Behemoth album. Fast forward another four long years, and here we have Opvs Contra Natvram in 2022. With Opvs, Behemoth continue on the aforementioned brave new direction. While not directly trying to recreate The Satanist, the band seems to take aspects from their masterpiece, and combine them with ideas from the more recent effort. We still have chanting choirs as did ILYAYD, but here they are used more sparsely and to greater effect. It's as if Nergal and the boys wanted to add a little more flavor to their Satanist sound with ILYAYD, but didn't quite get the seasoning right. Here, however, they seemed to perfect the blend and it shows in strides throughout the the songwriting.

Firstly, the opening song Post-God Nirvana offers a good subtlety of what's to come by enticing the listener with a pounding melancholy of tribal drums and a plodding black metal riff. This then leads us into the true opener Malaria Vvlgata; which pummels the listener with standard Behemoth flavors of blast beats and tremolo riffs. While not quite an incredible song, it showcases the band's talent in both speed and brutality. At just over 2 minutes long, it doesn't overstay it's welcome but rather kicks down the door to make way for the rest of the album's offerings.

The Deathless Sun, to me is the first track we get on the album that contains that grandiose epic feeling so often felt through moments on The Satanist. With the choirs chanting "I AM NOTHING I AM NO ONE" behind the guitar riffs and drums, the song is both crushing and melodic and easily an album highlight.

As for the B side of the album, I can only say it continues to get better. My two favorite tracks here are Once Upon a Pale Horse and the album closer Versvs Christvs. The former being a more mid-tempo groovy headbanger, while the latter is the epic conclusion to what I would consider the true follow up to The Satanist. With bits of ominous piano and spoken word vocals from Nergal in the first minute or so, the stage is set for an eerie yet monumental whirlwind of blackened death metal goodness on this final song.

Overall, the album stands on it's own within Behemoth's discography. The band didn't directly plagiarize themselves by attempting to re-create the last two albums, nor did they revert to a sound from earlier on in their career. True, it is no The Satanist, but damn is it close in terms of grandiosity. If I could give one criticism of the album as a whole...I suppose I would have appreciated some brevity on a lot of the songs' guitar solo-ing. They are fantastic, true, but tend to wail on for just a few seconds too long in spots.

As the title of this review states, I believe this to be the true follow up to the masterful The Satanist. Despite having several highlights, it's predecessor ILYAYD strayed too far from what is to be expected of Behemoth, both for myself and many other fans. Opvs, on the other hand, does at times feel like The Satanist pt. 2 but also becomes something of it's own. While it doesn't rise on it's own as an equal to The Satanist (and I'm not sure that anything could), it also doesn't go too far into roads untaken. Bold, yet familiar. Expected, yet unexpected. The album is a testament to Behemoth's legacy and talent, and I personally cannot wait to hear more... just please in less than 4 years this time, Nergal.

Opvs Contra Natvram - 25%

Heimir, October 6th, 2022
Written based on this version: 2022, CD, Nuclear Blast (Limited edition, Digibook, Lux)

I kind of like Behemoth. I maintain that their early black metal work is among the best that Poland had to offer in its era, and while the straightforward and bland death metal material they released for much of the aughts is not to my taste I have been increasingly impressed with their more recent efforts, from the epic The Satanist to the dirgelike and dramatic Xiądz to the monumental I Loved You At Your Darkest - records whose acclaim varies between fans and critics but whose blend of underground and mainstream sounds I find quite compelling.

I do not care for Opus Contra Naturam.

It does have some redeeming features, I will admit at least that - "Post-God Nirvana," idiotic title notwithstanding, is a significantly more engaging introductory track than its predecessors - especially "Solve," if for no better reason than the eschewing of the fucking children's choir. Its closing track, "Versus Christus," is leagues beyond "Coagula" too, and allows a largely mediocre record to at least close memorably. And at its best, Contra (the album's rumored title, which it should have kept and by which it will be henceforth referred to) captures much of the drama and one-man-against-the-world debonairness of its precursors.

It's just that Contra is rarely at its best. For every "Malaria Vulgata" there are two "Ov My Herculean Exile"s - songs which start without energy and fail to pick any up across 4-to-5 minute runtimes. There's a sense that the band thinks they're doing something big and dramatic, but most of what they're doing is pedaling a C sharp minor while Nergal grunts blasphemies largely indistinguishable from those featured on the previous album.

Orion's bass guitar is, expectedly, a highlight, and I'll offer that the wide-open space between chords makes it a lot easier to hear him. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of Inferno"s drums - usually a great joy to listen to, Contra finds him reluctant to push himself, and he overrelies on his tried and true blast beats and lightning-speed tom rolls. Performance-wise it's clear that he could still outplay the lion's share of metal drummers one-handed, but the parts themselves just don't match up to the skill of the player.

The notable exception to this is "Disinheritance," a track that leans more heavily into the band's mainstream influences than anything they've released before. I won't lie and say I like the track, but I will confess that there is a relief in hearing the band stop pretending that its modern iteration is anything other than darlings of the "barely-too-heavy-for-radio" crowd, slottable onto playlists alongside Arch Enemy or perhaps heavier Slipknot songs. It is, at least, a welcome moment of honesty amid songs like "Off To War!" which try too hard to disguise their pop skeletons with tremolo riffs and D-beats.

One area I can praise uncomplicatedly is the art direction. Since the mid-10s, Behemoth has had one of my favorite visual aesthetics in metal, and Contra's bold use of black and gold over bright white backgrounds looks fantastic and sets it apart from the several releases before it. The embossed digibook looks great and is clearly made of high-quality stuff; the liner notes are constructed with good paper stock too and it is a genuine pleasure to page through while listening.

I regret for that reason that the listening is not itself more of a pleasure. It would seem that, having pushed their sound far forward in the 2010s, Behemoth has decided to break into the 2020s with an album that sounds basically like a disc of outtakes from their previous LP.

Bit Standard, but Still Great - 80%

Slater922, September 20th, 2022
Written based on this version: 2022, Digital, Independent

Behemoth has come a long way from their early raw black metal years from the early 90s. Since the late 90s, Behemoth has gain a notoriety for its unique mix of black metal and death metal, with the 2014 album "The Satanist" in particular being considered a peak in the band's sound. In 2018, however, the band saw a bit of a flop on their next album "I Loved You at Your Darkest". While the overall reception was mixed, fans worried that Behemoth would enter a dark period releasing bad and mediocre albums. Well, earlier this month, they released their latest album "Opvs Contra Natvram", and any fears the fans had on the last album seem to have gone away.

Much of the criticism from I Loved You at Your Darkest was that the instrumentals were very poor, and felt more like bad leftovers from The Satanist. With this album, the first track "Post-God Nirvana" does start the album off with a dark industrial/ambient noise with some ritualistic characteristics. It's not perfect, but it does work as a decent opener for the album. The next track "Malaria Vvlgata" is where things get good. The riffs on this song lean more towards the death metal realms, but still maintain the raw characteristics of black metal that Behemoth always had. The drumming is basic in its beat patterns, but remains effective at powering through the track with its blastbeats. Even the bass is great with its deep sound being a nice fit in this chaotic atmosphere. The instrumentation is noticeably more heavy and aggressive than on the last two albums, and it works very well. Tracks like "Disinheritance" and especially the single "Ov My Herculean Exile" serve as excellent blackened death metal tracks with some of the finest riffs since The Satanist. Compared to the last album, the instrumentals are no doubt an improvement that take on a more intense sound.

As for the vocals, they're alright. Even in the early albums, Nergal's vocals has been the more weaker part of the albums, and this latest album of theirs is no exception. His mix of shrieks and growls might sound cool at first, but if you're a black metal nerd like me, then they sound more standard and not at all that impressive. Even so, I can't deny some of the good vocal performances on here, particularly in the track "Once upon a Pale Horse". The flow of his vocals on this track are really good, and his growls particularly sound menacing enough to enhance the death metal-influenced riffs. Nergal's vocals are passable for the most part and don't sound special, but they still do show off some occasional good moments.

Even the lyrics are good. The lyrics in Behemoth's albums are generally good, and this album in particular does have some great lyrics. Take the track "Neo-Spartacvs" for example, where this verse quotes:

I forge ahead
Like a meteor adrift in cold decay
Thou must heed the call
Ordo ab vniverso
I hail the freedom the gods abhor
To feel greater
To strive higher
To be more


At first, the lyrics look a bit basic, as it's just the Spartans proclaiming to defeat their enemies. However, part of the charm here is while the descriptions are basic, there is enough detail to paint some nice, vivid pictures of what is going on in the story, and in this particular track, you do feel the energy of the Spartans striving to invade Troy and Rome. Furthermore, with the heavy riffs and intense growls of Nergal, these lyrics are given a more deadly and extreme take, as the Spartans seem more intimidating than usual. While the lyrics aren't the most complex, they're still written well enough for the instruments and vocals.

With Opvs Contra Natvram, I think Behemoth has learned their mistakes from the previous album and is actually improving. With more of a focus on heavier riffs and well-executed drumming, plus some great lyrics, and this is certainly another win in Behemoth's long discography. The vocals could use a bit more work, but otherwise, this is an excellent blackened death metal album that I would highly recommend.

Behemoth's Return to a New Form - 78%

jackies_eclaire, September 19th, 2022

One of my pet-peeves is when bands release half the runtime on their album in singles before the album release date, which then lessens my excitement for the actual release. Often, once the full album is available, I find myself unimpressed, since the best material has already been released. Behemoth fell a bit into this trap with Opvs Contra Natvram, but for once I’m not disappointed.

I was, perhaps controversially, a big fan of The Satanist. Call me a poser, but I don’t think Behemoth’s best work ended in ’99. That album really got me started listening to black metal, and because of that I have major respect for it. However, the follow-up, I Loved You at Your Darkest (which felt very much like a poor imitative continuation of the album before it), was quite disappointing. All the same sort of songwriting elements were there, but they felt dull and formulaic. But with this new album, however derivative it may seem on the surface, bears a few unique twists every now and then which bring the well-executed blackened death metal sound a new enjoyable quality.

The sound in many ways resembles the previous two albums, with backing choirs, arpeggiated minor chords, and chromatic harmonized tremolo riffs which blend together to create a unique and in many ways unparalleled dark tonality. Not only does Behemoth incorporate these elements well, but they aren’t as afraid of straying further into straight-ahead black metal as they have been recently. In most of the songs on the album, there are several points where the texture and tonality feels so blackened that I could very well compare it to Immortal or Gorgoroth. Good examples of this can be found on “Malaria Vvlgata” and “Thy Becoming Eternal.”

The album comes to an end with an epic, romantic, symphonic closer- very much in the modern Behemoth style. Neural’s spoken and clean vocals are a pleasant surprise, and fit very well with the haunting piano and ambient textures.

I welcome the new direction Behemoth seems to be headed, and I implore anyone skeptical of the quality of their recent material to give this new album a listen.

Opvs What Could've Beenimvs - 45%

AlexLucas, September 18th, 2022

For the past three decades, no band - from any genre - has made such tremendous waves quite like Behemoth did. Over the course of their legendary 30-year tenure, the bands extensive musical library has stood as an unrelenting act of protest and defiance against everything that is socially and morally limitative, thus turning the sociopolitical points of view of the band's frontman, Adam "Nergal" Darski, into blasphemous and unapologetic fine prints of what many like to call "blackened death", a healthy mixture between the two most extreme subgenres of metal.

2014's "The Satanist" is, without any doubt, the Magnum Opus of modern black metal - and, rightfully so, the Magnum Opus in Behemoth's discography. The blasphemous majesty, the unbridled guitar work, the defiant gestures of songs like "Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer" or the closing act "O Father, O Satan, O Sun!" still remained on its successor, 2018's "I Loved You At Your Darkest", but their delivery was nowhere near as consistent on the latter, with Nergal starting to drift towards more experimental, atmospherical, tempo-changing approaches. Thus, "Opvs Contra Natvram" arrives during a bountiful year for heavy releases, but, just like the case of ILYAYD, the hype didn't match the final result.

And the reason for that is clear as water: Every song from the record, from the opener "Post-God Nirvana" to the epic closer "Versvs Christvs" is good. However, they are only good on their own. When placed together, the album becomes a work of inconsistency, a record that lacks sonic uniformity and definitely does not present any fluidity. The fury that emanates from "Malaria Vvlgata" and "The Deathless Sun" is suddenly stopped by the monotonous nature of "Ov My Herculean Exile"; then the rageful, rebellious vibe of "Neo-Spartacvs" and "Disinheritance" is taken away by the pop-punk akwardness from "Off To War!" and so on. Just when the album seems to be back on track, there's always something - whether it's a full song or just a little detail - that throws him off. As a result, we never get to see the band retrieve the iniquity that made not only "The Satanist" but works like "Demigod", "The Apostasy" or "Evangelion" absolute extreme metal powerhouses.

Apart from the musicianship, the lyrical topics also seem kinda repetitive. "Malaria Vvlgata" continues the same trail that songs like "If Crucifixion Was Not Enough" or "Angelvs XIII" from the previous record have paved. We know it is a common topic for Nergal to explore - and it shall be until Behemoth is done, but at this point every Behemoth fan - and even those who don't listen to the band that much - knows that the rebellious Polish frontman doesn't bond well with religious folks. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate and admire Nergal's artistry, but just like he proved to be a versatile man in the composition department, perhaps it's time for that versatility to pass over to the lyrical department.

Long story short, the best phrase that can describe this album is "What Could've Been". There are still a lot of songs and elements that resemble Behemoth's golden times, but at this point you can see the sucess of "The Satanist" was too much for the band to bear, as they seem to be favouring the same formulaic approach that ILYAYD encompassed than going for something really mindblowing. It is not an unlistenable album at all, but I wouldn't even dare to describe it with a "good" or "solid" either. Because at this point of Behemoth's career, "Opvs Contra Natvram" needed to be an improvement over "I Loved You At Your Darkest". Sadly, it wasn't.

One step forward, three steps to the side, with V's as U's - 79%

TheSlayFer, September 18th, 2022
Written based on this version: 2022, CD, Nuclear Blast (Digibook, Nox)

Ah yes, Behemoth are back again for album no. 12 Opvs Contra Natvram. Ever since 2018's I Loved You at Your Darkest, Behemoth has become one of those bands that a lot of metalheads decided it was ok to hate, mostly because of Nergal being Nergal on social media but that's besides the point. So, in regards to this new album, is the "Metallica of black metal" truly a husk of its former self, or does the band still manage to reinvent itself as Nergal often claims he actively strives for?

Well, one thing that's apparent from the get go after the opening track "Post-God Nirvana is that the Behemoth are returning to the pure aggression of Evangelion and keeping the grandiosity of The Satanist, while still trying different things, albeit on a much reduced scale than their oft maligned 2018 record. Tracks like "Malaria Vulgata", "The Deathless Sun", "Neo-Spartacus", "Disinheritance" and "Thy Becoming Eternal" are the most blackened death metal songs the band has wrote since 2014, and even 2007 if you ask their biggest detractors, on the bright side this shows how the band are still capable of making pure, uncut metal with no bullshit. but on the flipside it also does justify the biggest criticisms ILYAYD got, which how the band have already peaked and can't do anything else or really new. Fortunately, the band still have some trick up their sleeves with the rest of the songs, the singles "Ov My Herculean Exile" and "Off to War!" display how the band continue to master the combination of atmosphere and melody they had in 2014, and are furthered strengthened by the pivot into pure metal the aforementioned tracks displayed.

Furthermore, despite focusing more on metal and aggression overall, the whole album plays off like a sampler of the best qualities of the band since 2007's The Apostasy, with a good balance of brutality, atmosphere and more symphonic elements to make the album dynamic and eclectic. And at the same time, the band do manage to embrace new elements, continuing with their off-kilter experimentation, and in my opinion the best tracks of the record "Once Upon a Pale Horse" and the closer "Versus Christus" which are the biggest curveballs, the former with prog-like riffing melodies and the latter with minimalist and sparse, piano driven death march and Nergal bringing crooning to the mix and just keeps building momentum until bursts of pure metal. All in all, this is easily the band's most eclectic album, with curveball after curveball in a consistent and well paced presentation.

However, and this is starting to become a trend with Behemoth there's two major issues, the first and big one is that the band while capable of manifesting good ideas after 30 years, they're still drawing from The Satanist well, to the point where its sorta becoming a crutch, which in itself wouldn't be a problem if the band's sound and presentation wasn't so uniform with that single record, and the other lesser issue is how the band seems to cap themselves from doing more, they present interesting ideas and deviations, they manage to make them work with past convention which does work well, but they stop before breaking an actual threshold, in this case, they either realized that they won't ever be able to do an album like The Satanist, or purposefully avoid wanting to break away from what people have told them to their face is "the greatest extreme metal album of the past decade".

Overall, while this is a good record I can easily recommend, I do start to understand the frustration many have with Behemoth, at least musically, they are capable of doing more, but don't take that one extra step, and after a dozen albums, its possible they won't take that step, or feel like they don't have to, which is a bit of a disappointment in the present that can snowball into bigger issues into the future. I hope I'm wrong, but only time will tell.

  • Best tracks: "The Deathless Sun", "Neo-Spartacus", "Once Upon a Pale Horse", "Versus Christus"


  • Written for MetalBite.com

    I face darkness yet feel no evil... - 55%

    TheNotrap, September 17th, 2022

    Polish blasphemer Adam Darski (aka Nergal) is somehow responsible for my new dive into extreme metal after divorcing the genre at the dawn of the new millennium. 'Sculpting the Throne ov Seth' and those that followed had a strong impact on someone who believed metal had been dead for some time. And while this assumption may have solid foundations if you throw a concept such as artistic relevance into the equation, it was mostly due to my detachment and unawareness about what was happening in the heavy metal realm, more specifically in the more underground territory. In that sense, Behemoth was sort of the spark that reignited my interest in the genre and its newborns. The band's 00s era, while not without its detractors, not only influenced a musical generation that had been progressively adopting a more hybrid approach, but also gained a significant legion of followers who swore allegiance to Behemoth's blackened death metal flag. I always felt Nergal & the lads had a weird mainstream ingredient in their (extreme) formula as if they were some kind of black/death Iron Maiden, just waiting to be discovered. Both crowds even behave similarly, possessing a sing along(ish) spirit uncommon in extreme metal legions. An expansionist approach that reached its (commercial) peak in 2014's The Satanist, which achieved considerable success on both sides of the Atlantic. Its organic nature, more in touch with Nergal's black metal roots, somewhat appeased the opposing faction, showing a renewed artistic direction that provided a safe territory which would be reused, albeit much less effectively, four years later on I Loved You at Your Darkest. Despite the differences between both and the quality of the latter, the unmistakable scent of decline and its institutionalized aroma began to emerge. A trend unfortunately confirmed on the band's thirteenth satanic chapter, Opvs Contra Natvram.

    Bearing a title that confronts the morality of a cancel culture always ready to judge, condemn and erase, Opvs Contra Natvram symbolizes Nergal's willingness to go against the tide and its moral currents. A cry of rebellion that has always accompanied Behemoth's narrative, like a humanist foundation supporting the outer, somewhat theatrical, satanic aesthetic. 'Neo-Spartacvs', which evokes the iconic Thracian gladiator, embodies this rebellious spirit, transversal to Opvs Contra Natvram. Yet this nonconformist concept did not materialize musically to its fullest extent, in the sense that, artistically, Opvs Contra Natvram is neither challenging nor particularly inspired. On the contrary, it appears exhausted and predictable, lacking ideas. Mirroring a worn-out formula. There is a sense of triviality and deja-vu throughout the album that pulls it down, weakening it. Much like a rusty weight clinging to a body struggling to stay afloat. Good moments like the Shemhamforash-ish 'Disinheritance', 'Malaria Vvlgata', or the furious chorus of 'Thy Becoming Eternal', which embody Behemoth's most frantic side, are somewhat overwhelmed by others heading in the opposite direction, such as the goofy pirate-esque segment in 'The Deathless Sun', or the uninspired 'Once upon a Pale Horse' that carries a middling main riff. 'Neo-Spartacvs' and 'Versvs Christvs' are further examples that are unlikely to feature in a posthumous best of, such as some unremarkable fingerpicking and solos that surface every now and then. Not that Opvs Contra Natvram is mediocre and devoid of interest (as my rating suggests), it certainly has its moments and technically the band still delivers solid performances, but it doesn't come close to the band's best work. And that, for an act of Behemoth's caliber, is simply not good enough. Not for me.

    I face darkness yet feel no evil, for on the throne that was once of flame I find no king.

    The above overly dramatic thought somehow expresses my feelings on Opvs Contra Natvram while disclosing my aforementioned fanboyism towards the band, or, more exactly, towards a particular cycle of their existence. Honestly, given the signs that have been surfacing recently, I can't say the outcome surprises me. The blasphemous flame that once shone brightly no longer possesses the might of former times. It is the inevitable decline of the creative spirit, I guess. And Nergal is certainly no exception to the rule. Behemoth's thirteenth chapter is thus the product of a worn-out formula; institutionalized; eroded by countless battles, be they of professional, political or medical nature. Which leads us to the conclusion that probably Opvs Contra Natvram couldn't be any other way, and we, as music aficionados, should take it for what it is. For despite its flaws, it still bears traces of a profane, glorious past.

    Originally written for www.sputnikmusic.com