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A step in the right direction, but not quite there - 85%

BarkievonSchnauser, December 15th, 2007

My introduction to Behemoth was less then stellar. 2005's critically acclaimed Demigod proved to me to be a boring and drab album, save three tracks that totally blew my mind away. So, even though Demigod proved to be for the most part a let down, I was still willing to give Behemoth one more chance. When I got word that Behemoth was releasing an album in 2007, I decided to give it a chance. I had heard a lot of good stuff coming from Darsky saying that the album was good, and had watched making of videos on Behemoth's youtube page seeing some interesting things going on in the studio. I was now more stoked to check out this new album then ever, and when the time came, I purchased my own copy of The Apostasy the same way I got Demigod, the great music purchase system called Itunes.

Well, the album was not totally what I expected. I did expect it to be a lot better then it actually was, but in terms of how good it was, it was ten times better then Demigod. The album is further exploration for Behemoth into the realm of death metal and an attempt to further distance themselves from their black metal past. On Demigod we saw them trying to do this while trying to be like a blackened death metal version of Nile. Here, we see Behemoth trying to be, well Behemoth. The Apostasy, through it all, is a much more consistent and stronger album then its predecessor, and it shows Behemoth getting better as musicians as well.

To start of, I think I should talk about the production here, and some of the key studio decisions taken to make The Apostasy better then Demigod. First off is the production, which is much more grittier and heavier, as well as being more stripped down and simplistic. Gone are the airy, effected vocals of Darsky and Inferno's plastic like drum tone. It is much better here. Big thanks to sound engineer/co-producer Malta for doing this. A main decision in this tone was because Inferno chose not to trigger any of the drums other then the bass drums. Normally, you think this would sound like shit, but here it sounds downright amazing. This album has some of the best drum tones ever, as everything sounds full and organic. Adam's voice is not effected at all, and it is simply left as it is to be. Really good part on the band for the making of the album. Still, the production has its flaws. The main problem is still, no good bass sounds, and the rhythm guitar tone is fuzzy sounding here (not Obituary's Xecutioner's Return fuzzy but still). But hey, it was all to accommodate Inferno, and the improvement shown by the band makes up for it here.

Like I said, Behemoth have gotten better, and Adam Darsky is no exception to the rule. His voice is now, for the most part, straight up death metal vocals. No more death metal growling and black metal rasps overlaid to make a demonic effect, just real good death metal growling that is much more clear and stronger sounding on The Apostasy. Great work there. As well, we find the lyrical themes moving away from Nile and Melecesh worship to back to Behemoth's black metal roots. We here more anti Christian themes (Slaying The Prophets Of Isa, Christgrinding Avenue), cults (Inner Sanctum, Be Without Fear), war (Kriegsphilosophie) and more. We still here a tad of Melecesh knocking off on Pazuzu and Prometherion, but for the most part the album is much better lyrically then on Demigod. Very well done on your part Darsky. You get a cookie now!

Our guitar work is much better here. Behemoth does not make riffs entirely based off of power chords on The Apostasy (something they did nearly all the time on Demigod), they actually play real riffs with real palm muting! Hence the album is much more tight rhythmically when it comes to the guitars, and the riffs are generally more organized and technical as well. Still, they are a tad rudimentary for death metal riffs, along with there are still lots of entirely power chord based rhythms here, and I think if Behemoth wants to achieve true technical death metal status they should work on that. As do they need to work on their lead work. No we actually hear them playing real leads, with Seth not getting much better but Adam getting a lot better then he was. Now we hear less tremolo picking and more alternate picking/hybrid techniques along with basic sweeps as well. Some of the stuff he plays is really actually pretty damn good. I know Behemoth uses their lyrics, stage prescence, and drummer to achieve a more beloved status with fans, but their lead guitar department has shown me that they are capable of more then that. No where near Nile (the band they just love to rip off), but it is still nice.

Once again, I cannot understand or make out Orion playing the bass, so I am going over to Inferno again. Alright, here Inferno is much better. Like I said, his drums are not trigged, so you would think they would sound like crap. Well they do not. I must commend him for paying homage to the days when drumer triggers did not exist and metal drummers had a tone that did not sound like hitting pieces of plastic. Now they actually sound very full and rich, much like something you would hear from a marching band. You would think this would sound like crap, but like I said, it does not. It is quite impressive to hear, and highly enjoyable. Inferno still has all the speed he had on previous Behemoth recordings and his beat style has not changed too much, but here he actually learned to reserve himself and not just go ahead at full speed all the time. His technicallity has even increased by much, so that gives The Apostasy a few extra points. Still, Inferno could be a tad more varied and still needs to work on reserving himself when required.

The songs here are pretty interesting. There are several whicn incorporate minor orchestral parts with brass, string, and woodwind instruments, which is pretty interesting. I am not saying they use these in a Nightwish kind of sense, but they use them to provide some dramatiscm to the sound. However, this was not really needed, and I think could have been dropped (I really hope Behemoth does not use this again). However, the songs are more rhythmically accomplished and technical then on Demigod, and are not merely black metal with death metal vocals. This is, for the most part real death metal here. We have plenty of balls out songs like Slaying The Prophets Of Isa, Christgrinding Avenue, and Arcane Hereticae. Also we got some more technical numbers in the form of Inner Sanctum, Kriegsphilosophie, Pazuzu, and At The Left Hand Ov God. The only song that really does not fit under these two banners is Be Without Fear, which is your typical modern death metal, mid paced groove oriented song. While not as good as its predecssor Conquer All, Be Without Fear is still pretty nice and a nice little death metal number that you can enjoy headbanging to. Also a good way to get some fans to without selling out.

All in all, The Apostasy is a pretty nice album. Behemoth shows improvement in terms of songwriting, guitar work, technicallity, vocals, and lyrical work. But still they continue to give into the trends of singing of ancient cutlures, orchestrals in death metal, and the philosophy of “More blast beats is better”. Still, it is a much more accomplished and consistent album then Demigod, so I would be willing to give Behemoth another chance to get it right. Until then, feel free to buy The Apostasy. It is enjoyable, and I think that unlike its predecessor, it is worth buying the whole CD.