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Living On A Prayer - 83%

OzzyApu, May 30th, 2009

From shit, to black metal, to blackened death metal; Behemoth have quite the journey. The intensity can only proceed forward, with this truckstop being the middle of the road between the land of black metal and the land of death metal – blackened death metal, for lack of giving a shit. Here we see the most prime example of Behemoth today: lyrics dealing more with history and antiquity rather than pagan themes, folk-converted tunes to more biblical / old world inspired themes, and just the general music becoming more like death metal. These signs were present on the last album, but only in small capacities that even the bitch on the cover art couldn’t cover up.

Production job is almost as good as a blowjob – compare it to the last album and you’d know where I’m coming from. The tone of the guitars is raw but stirred, convincing, and the riffs themselves very middle-eastern sounding – again, this is where that biblical shit comes in. You’ll feel like a plague is upon you as the rhythm tramples everything in sight, leaving no mercy in its wake. It’s a more believable approach to the dark nature of the album, relying more on the strength of the riffs and the historical atmosphere as opposed to the black metal characteristics we’re so used to. Treading with this is a bass that rumbles, yet doesn’t really shine as we’d hope it would. It’s clarity is one thing, but from my stereo I can’t get much out of it. The guitars have me in a trance already; in fact, I feel as though I’m in some Egyptian dungeon and am about to be sacrificed as part of a ancient cult ritual too stupid to comprehend. Let me guess, the bitch on the cover is the one performing this…

* out slithers the snake-bitch *

…oh god damnit…

While all the songs are generally mid-paced, it doesn’t sound like it. Drumming usually indicates the rhythm, so as you’d expect, Inferno is faster than all holy and hell. Double bass is used so excessively it’s embarrassing, but the real shitstain comes from the snares and cymbals, both sounding artificial and metallic that it doesn’t cooperate well with the organic sound of everything else. For an album trying to sound traditional and historic, you’d expect more natural sounding instruments – they should have just used bongos.

Ha, what a sight – Inferno on bongos…

Most of the songs themselves sound the same, but it’s the finer details in the riffs and rhythms that set them apart. Early tracks like “The Thousand Plagues I Witness” and later tracks like “The Past Is Like A Funeral” sure both sound Sumerian, evil, and taste of sin but have driving melodies that make them differ more than a pop song next to a punk song. The two aforementioned songs could very well be the best ones on this short album, especially considering the shortness of the intro / outro and the… uh, track that’s completely in Polish? You know, the eighth track according to this page? I dunno, it’s not even a track that fits well with the rest of them – more like another experimental piece with unfitting vocals and overuse of synths.

Nergal typically uses a deeper growl kind of like Åkerfeldt of Opeth, but not as “guttural” or “deep.” Kind of like how his growls sound on My Arms, Your Hearse - yeah, I’m not too far off on that one. They definitely fit well with the new tone of the album, but overall these traits are tame compared to the later works.

In truth, this is a great album that is severely overlooked in the Behemoth discography. Black metal fans don’t want to touch it because they consider it part of the death metal era, and death metal fans don’t want to touch it because they already have Satanica and everything after to bathe in. Early in the Grom review I stated that this album was second only to that album in terms of people not giving a shit, but I certainly feel that both are on the same level now. Grom was really the album where the band attempted to identify itself – it’s experimental core turned off many people and paved the way for this album, which people seem to rub off as well. Sadly people are so easily mistaken, because I feel that this was a step in the right direction. Sure the band’s black metal material has it’s place, but moving on to death metal was a sign of growing up not in terms of just band members, but also a more adult sound.