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Mutinous against monotheism - 90%

Lord Herr, September 12th, 2014

The Polish trio return once again, this time after a prolonged period of absence, to assault our senses with their aural antithesis of Creation and Order. Polished and professional, boasting the monstrous, muscular momentum of Inferno's drumming, and the gut-wrenching, skull-splitting vocal work of Nergal, this release actually manages in foregoing quite a few alterations and advancements in their sound.

While they were never shy in embracing the mystique and mentality of orchestral (even if only synthesized on earlier releases) ambiences and auras, this time around, the ritualistic atmosphere is achieved not only through choppy, chuggy riffs, and the occasional slew of a black metal injection, but also through the numerous, neatly-arranged backing choirs, string quartets, acoustic sections etc. This brings a certain dosage of bombast and balance to the brutality and intensity of the guitars/vocals/drums, but instead of liquefying them, they make them even more solidified and unified. The intro track first provides a slow build-up, but doesn't shy in quickly adopting quite the punishing and pulverising approach with the punctual, immaculate drumming and some quite agreeable synths in the background. „Furor Divinus“ doesn't have any introductory or orchestral element, it immediately drifts into monstrosity and mischief of the incredibly chilling and striking guitar riff, before being fully enveloped into both rapid, razing blast beats, complemented by interesting and diversifying fills and rolls. Initially more dissonant and experimental, „Messe Noir“ also undergoes quite an efficient, enjoyable transformation into absolute barrage and carnage of riffing and drumming.

The following tracks starting with „Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer“ do employ some relentment and revision of the medium, with more groovy and mid-paced riffs taking precedence over previous blazing and blasting. „Amen“ is more simplistic and organic with some basic riff played with the backing and buoying of some choirs and synthesized ( organ, perhaps ) effects... It is a dash of diversity and drama, instead of overplayed technicality and timidity in songwriting. The title track is a bouncy ballad (although, quite opposite of anything mainstream) with riffs taking the backseat, over some more diverse and gracious drumming patterns, even if simple in vision and execution. The vocals also take a less incomprehensible form, being more of a barking type, and only later transforming and teeming with phlegm and punch. „Ben Sahar“ further evidences and emphasizes this fixation with more mid-paced material, also taking heavy use of backing accompaniment of a myriad of choirs and orchestrations. „In the Absence of Light“ initially seems like a standard Behemoth routine, but the middle section is practically a poetry recital with some acoustics and string slowly gliding over very steady and serene drumwork. The Final track“ O Father O Satan O Sun!“ is monolithic and crushing, even if not imposing with speed and intensity. It is a more ritualistic, slowly building mammoth of atmosphere and soundscape, with some very ingenious and gloomy organs and choirs dominating and propelling it. The final moments are perhaps some of the most emotional and breath-taking on the release.

Behemoth have not gone through an actual radical, massive change, but subtlety, variation and distance from their previous outputs is most certainly evident. They offer a number of quite punishing, pummeling tunes, but then couple it with sullen acoustics and sincere vocals, that strand the zone between incomprehensible and almost manly clean, achieving extremity through honesty and integrity, rather then outperforming other artists in terms of speed, stamina or savagery. This is a monumental, must-have morbid record, that isn't perfect on its own, but nevertheless demonstrates and delineates that extreme metal can still be original and oozing with ideas and ingenuity.