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Quartergod. - 72%

Noktorn, February 22nd, 2008

Is it strange for me to say that the elements that made 'Demigod' such a great release are the ones that make 'The Apostasy' rather flawed? It's all a matter of degree, it seems. 'Demigod' was beyond overblown and melodramatic; it was a level of over-the-top that can honestly be only described with the word 'Demigod'. For some people, it was just too much to the point where it was absurd and dumb; to the others like myself, the uncompromising nature of it seemed sort of daring and original. There's not a lot of death metal bands willing to go to that level of theatricism in their songwriting. But a lot of the same elements just don't work on the new album, though I will admit it's a pretty good modern death metal album.

'The Apostasy' sounds like it's supposed to be 'Demigod: Timid People Edition'. Instead of EVERYTHING being constantly epic and soaring, Behemoth restricts it to only specific sections in each song when they're not absent entirely. It's an admirable (I guess) attempt at showing restraint. But for Behemoth being epic, it just seems to be an all or nothing game, because instead of creating an album with a heightened sense of drama through peaks and valleys in the songwriting structure, it just ends up destroying the necessary suspension of disbelief that is a part of newer Behemoth. You see, you have to be in the right mindset to listen to 'Demigod' or it's going to be too much; you have to suspend your disbelief to really get into something so insanely huge at all moments. 'The Apostasy' attempts to circumvent this by having more normal blasting sections and less enormous epic stuff. The issue, though, is that the transfers between these sections are overly clear and sharp, so when the various soaring, slow sections appear, they inspire more incredulous giggles than awe. It is admittedly a very find distinction, but I think it's a major part of the album. It's just impossible to take seriously. Instead of seeing Nergal as some divine god of destruction, you realize more that he's just some dude from Poland.

The wage of compromise is a loss of constant double-tracked vocals, trumpets, and triumphant war marches, and so 'The Apostasy' falls in quality accordingly. After the admittedly excellent 'Slaying The Prophets Ov Isa', all the tracks blur together for me, unlike the spectacularly unique songs on 'Demigod'. All the elements are still in place; sharp, vicious tremolo riffing, the insanely fast (as ever) drumming of Inferno, the sweeping, mystical solos, and Nergal's full, rich, roaring vocals (though the lack of omnipresent doubletracking does actually harm the performance, amazingly enough), but it feels like the band is restraining themselves from really going for the theatrical jugular like they did on 'Demigod'. It almost sounds like the band was pressured into doing a more 'normal' death metal album, which is exactly what they SHOULDN'T be doing. Behemoth carved a niche of super-epic death metal that verged on spawning its own, unique genre of heavy metal, but this is really step back from that new trail that they could be blazing instead.

I've been rather harsh on 'The Apostasy', and maybe it's unfair to view it in such close comparison to 'Demigod'. It's still very competent and fun to listen to. There's no real sense of failure; just a bit too much hesitance on the part of the band. I doubt you'd regret your purchase of this CD; it is admittedly a lot of fun to listen to, even if you're never really sure which track you're on. I guess I just expected them to go even further instead of dropping back like this. Here's hoping the next album is the full-fledged God that people like me always wanted.