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Modern death metal that doesn't suck Pt.I - 90%

Arboreal, November 18th, 2008

Part one of the best death metal released within the last ten years, or maybe of all time.

Many bands are constantly evolving one sound that is altered from album to album. Fans of the basic idea will tend to find a couple in a given discography that better suit their tastes. Sometimes multiple evolutions take place and Behemoth is a good example of this. Of course, many bands end up releasing one or maybe several good albums before plunging into the void of mediocrity. Thankfully, with Behemoth, this is not the case.

On The Apostasy, Behemoth manages to beat Nile at it's own game and in doing so, also completely "annihilates" 99.9% of other death metal acts out there these days. It's also worth noting that Behemoth released my favorite blackened death metal ever...their work still absolutely blows away the competition. Maybe they will make something of a return to this approach in the future. Either way, each era of Behemoth has it's gems.

That said, I really like a few of their albums. This one represents the best execution of the approach they've been advancing since Zos Kia Cultus. The vocals on Demigod are just horrible and the riffing and composition are not quite up to this level. Everything seems to be in balance on The Apostasy. It's very memorable, too. The production featured is also the best I've heard from them. Very clean and the instruments have good separation. Yes, of course the bass drums are triggered, heavily compressed, and equalized for that big sound.

Reduced are the near constant over layered vocals heard on Demigod. This is a very good thing. And they're also mixed far better. They're pretty standard death metal vocals which is to say "tough guy vocals". They're deep and growly. If you are just getting into it, I suppose this is one of the better introductions you could have. At least the vox don't sound like random burping or squealing. There's a hint of black rasp here and there but nothing really substantial as in previous blackened releases.

Inferno abuses his kit in ways unspeakable in a high school music class. Anyone saturating themselves with modern DM and it's offshoots will be used to all the blasturbation going on here. LOTS AND LOTS OF DRUM HITS. I'd repeat that like three times if I wasn't so lazy. The point is, there are maybe thousands of drum hits on this album, like most in the genre these days. At least he fits some interesting patterns into the beats sometimes and adds nice tom fills, too. They are definitely varied and he comes up with some really entertaining ones, so it's some of the best I've heard in this genre even if it is a little over played.

The riffs really make this album though. Lots of badass power chords, fast palm muting and face melting tremolo picking. Death metal, being extremely rhythmic in nature, is especially reliant on good riffing. The guitar tone is important, too and on here it's very searing yet satisfyingly crunchy. The Apostasy delivers big time in all regards and that's why it succeeds at it's goal -- basically a nonstop pummeling intensity. Like all good metal, powerful and creative drumming along with heavy riff work MAKES the sound. The vocals tie it all together. Even if an album or individual songs aren't composed well, I believe that a good overall sound will yield decent marks by itself.

Fortunately, Behemoth delivers masterful songwriting and also weaves together a satisfying album, further setting itself apart from similar efforts. The average tempo is pretty high but thankfully all of the songs get to breathe through numerous and engaging arrangements. The variety of sections stick around long enough to satisfy without dragging and the transitions make them flow. Nothing jumps out to distract or frustrate, thereby inducing headaches. I rarely notice song structure as a whole when it's enjoyable but when it derails it immediately grabs my focus and pisses me off because of it's grating annoyance.

Lastly, I will touch on the most nebulous aspect of music..."mood". This is built on the mesh of instruments, vocals, and pacing but also includes those intros, outros, samples, filler tracks, interludes within a song, etc. Backing keys can help. Or all of these things can fail and end up completely killing the experience. Here, they are tasteful and sparse. Probably for the better since the faster, more direct variants of extreme metal don't seem to gel with lots of atmospheric elements. When used, the additional mood setting is done in a way that doesn't distract from the brutal assault. Some samples here, a fancy intro there, or maybe some synths. The battle trumpets are always welcome to hear. Overall the feeling here is fast, ancient, bestial, and blasphemous. It's a Behemoth album!

In closing, this is one of my personal favorite albums from these guys. I hold it close to Thelema.6 in greatness. As far as pure death metal, The Apostasy is hard to beat. Fans who haven't heard this one will be guaranteed to enjoy it. The last two songs are a little meh, but forgivable since they're not completely dull and the rest of the album is killer.