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A Staggering Success! - 98%

corviderrant, August 10th, 2007

And here I thought the boys from Gdansk wouldn't be able to top 2005's monstrous breakthrough album, "Demigod". I thought "Alright, they'll equal it, but *top* it? This I have to hear!" Imagine my amazement when, after repeated listens, I've yet to hear anything I wholly disapprove of or outright dislike. In short, they *have* topped "Demigod", a tall order for any band to even attempt, and they are the ones to do it. WIth their determination to always improve on all fronts and Nergal's unceasing hard work and ambitious vision leading the way, "The Apostasy" is by turns stunningly brutal, atmospheric, original, grooving (dare I say it), martial, and overall outstanding in an overcrowded field. And that says volumes.

Intro "Rome 64 C.E." sets the tone with its haunting, wavering Middle Eastern vocal part leading into a pounding military cadence that in turn sets you up for the devastating opening track proper, "Slaying The Prophets ov Isa". And devastating it is with Inferno driving at his usual breakneck blast rate and navigating the song through a series of tempo changes that twist and turn and keep you on your toes throughout the song from vigorous start to breathless finish. This is one of several songs where a choir of 6 weighs in with performances that elevate this album out of the realm of the mundane and into the rarified realm of the unique, as they add an extra layer of depth and passion to the music. A horn section appears as well, their sonorous tones rendering the music all the more epic a la Sear Bliss; they are well-utilized and not overused, as is the choir.

Other standout songs:

"At The Left Hand ov God" features, again, a variety of tempos, most often an arresting riff on the verses where the choir enhances Nergal's thundering roars of rage and contempt against Christianity. The drumming and bass work on this tune are excellent, especially at the end where Inferno and Orion take you out on a tribal-sounding feel with a chanting part that adds immeasurably to that part that makes you want to bob your head in time with the catchy, bouncy drumming. This is probably my favorite song on the album musically and lyrically.

"Prometherion" is another blast fest that tears by at 100mph and packs a multitude of ideas into just over three minutes without seeming like overkill. Lots of guitar parts and some of Inferno's most frenzied drumming on this little gem.

"Inner Sanctum" in another favorite of mine that features some seriously dark and disturbing lyrics, enhanced by Nevermore vocalist Warrel Dane's menacing spoken parts and tortured cries of suffering alternating with Nergal's roaring delivery. Jazz pianist Leszek Mozdzer contirbutes a menacing (and all too brief) intro that sets up the song perfectly and really adds to the dark and doom-filled atmosphere. Nergal has been quoted as saying "I doubt that happy people can make good music," and the lyrics of this song really make you wonder just how sad/angry/self-hating/depressed he could very well be. And he's right, too; how many musicians who are on this level do you know of who make music this passionate and convincing and real?

"Pazuzu" starts off with thundering war drums and serpentine bass with hanging dissonant chords and takes off into light speed yet again, a real eruption of negative energy and fury as Nergal's liner notes imply. One of the most furious songs on this album, and a fitting war anthem for the demon of disease and destruction.

The production, once again mixed by Daniel Bergstrand at Dug Out Studio, is excellent again, with long time sound man/unofficial fifth member Malta handling the production duties. The bass is slightly louder in the mix than last time, but not by much; but when Orion's dense, metallic grind pops out for a few seconds near the end of "Pazuzu" it really hits you in the face. The drums are dry yet sound good, and since Inferno only triggers his kick drums now, the overall result is in your face and well-balanced in the mix, and sounds more organic than in the past. The guitar tone is full and dark, with lots of little bits and pieces going on that can't be caught on the first listen. Nergal and returning session member Seth weave a dense tapestry of sound with their amazing riffs (sooo catchy!), frenzied soloing and fills and they whip out the acoustics again here and there as on "Demigod" for nice variation. A good performance from all parties involved, I'm happy to say!

This is once again going to wind up becoming my album of the year for 2007, as "Demigod" ended up my album of the year for 2005. WIth such an impassioned performance from all members, the Behemoth war machine is firing on all cylinders and set to annihilate all in its path yet again as only they can do. Couple amazing, ambitious, and powerful music with vicious and sincere lyrics and passion to spare, and you have a modern classic that will be remembered for years to come, I think. And I got it right from Nergal himself that they are embarking on their first ever headlining tour this autumn! A fitting thing for a band this extreme who actually entered the Billboard Top 200 at #149, I dare say. Snap this up and justify that tour, you folks!