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When mankind fall prey. - 80%

Diamhea, November 13th, 2016

Due to the smashing success of Demigod, The Apostasy was the first Behemoth album that enjoyed a gestation period complete with wall-to-wall expectation of the highest magnitude. There was a lot of pressure on this album's shoulders to deliver, and to the band's credit they didn't take the easy route and release Demigod Part II. This record feels more like its own characteristic entity and in many ways superior to the material that came directly before it. As far as I've always seen it, the biggest positive on this album is the return of some of the feral, rabid and manic bloodletting savagery that made Thelema.6 so memorable. Demigod felt so overdone and bloated at times that the lasting power of the material suffered, and the less said about the vocals on that album the better.

Describing The Apostasy's sound requires focusing on the production first and foremost, which is an extremely sterile and "barren" sound without incessant overdubbing and the benefit of extensive synth use. Inferno truly comes into his own on this album, and the production feels more percussion-driven than before. This results in dry blastbeats that really slide into an effective comfort zone on tracks like the virulent "Prometherion." Other more tempered odes to iniquity include "At the Left Hand ov God" and the airtight chug-centric "Be Without Fear." Nergal's preoccupation with Middle Eastern themes and stylistic window dressing continues, but the incessant reliance on the same few melodic hooks isn't as debilitating as it was on Demigod, where many songs contained licks that were virtually identical and utilized in the same manner. Seth's irrelevance continues here, making me wish that Orion switched to guitars so he could provide a capable second mind for Nergal to bounce ideas off of. He simply feels so wasted in Behemoth, since I was familiar with Vesania first.

The Apostasy borders on the technical and complex, primarily concerning Inferno's masterfully-crafted drum tracks. Highlights of this include virtually all of "Kriegphilosophie" and the opening of "Arcane Hereticae," which is exhausting to even air-drum to, let alone play for real. Dissonant tremolos stir a murky brew of flesh-searing hooks and snappy, serpentine rhythms. I return to "Kriegphilosophie" as one of the best examples of the band locking into a killer cadence, with the drums and riffs playing off of each other near-perfectly. The Apostasy's biggest flaw is perhaps the fact that the second half of the record fails to muster even a fraction of the impact the first few songs do. The stolid, morose build of "Pazuzu" is good stuff, but many of the remaining songs evade long-term memory, which is a flaw Demigod avoided since its best track was the closer.

Regardless of how you look at it, The Apostasy is modern Behemoth slaying like they slay best, and it feels more focused and crafted with some measure of restraint, which does the band favors. Nergal's voluminous, sustained growls are parched, full and sepulchral as all get out, sitting atop a throne of blood, bone and pretense. I wouldn't say that this quite edges out Thelema.6 in raw power, but it easily outstrips the misguided Zos Kia Cultus (Here and Beyond) and made a memorable impact that seems to have been forgotten over all of the hype regarding the band's recent work. When I am in the mood for easy-to-digest Behemoth, I usually grab this one.