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Perfection - 98%

PassiveMetalhead, March 6th, 2015

After 5 years since the success of Evangelion, most fans would be getting a bit annoyed with Behemoth for not compiling a follow-up album. This wait however is more than excusable due to front-man and guitarist Adam ‘Nergal’ Darksi being diagnosed with leukemia in 2010 that advanced to such a level that chemotherapy proved ineffective to cure it. After finding a successful bone marrow transplant Nergal dismissed the illness without an ounce of self pity as it where nothing more than a life obstacle. Along with this celebration, Behemoth’s 10th album The Satanist has become one of the most anticipated albums of the year.

Immediately obvious is The Satanist's radically different sound. Coming from a man who has scoffed whilst peering into the abyss, one would expect opener Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel to be an explosive inferno of extreme metal. Instead a sloth-paced chord is layered over a brooding breath of archangelic instrumentation. Enter: Nergal. You know you’ve got a musician who takes his faith and music seriously when the opening lines to the album are “I saw the virgin’s cunt spawning forth the snake.” Nergal’s lyrics are clearly one of the main focuses of The Satanist. They force you to listen to what he has to say in other songs such as Messe Noir, detailing his allegiance to Satanism, and Amen, cursing The Virgin Mary. The clarity of Nergal’s Satanic interpretation is helped by the pinpoint production throughout the record; a feat that a lot of black metal and extreme bands stumble on.

Fans that still lust for the typical speed of Behemoth’s past efforts should still be satisfied with this album. Every track has the potential to give listeners whiplash but the explosive Furor Divinus almost passes too quickly through the tunnel of Inferno’s uncompromising drum work that you are left with your head spinning from not just the headbanging but also how they can play that fast. Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer is the closest Behemoth has come to different genres of heaviness. Through the flurry of blast beats the guitar riffs spin off in different directions hinting a punk like and bluesy shroud to the song.

There are elements within this album that signal Behemoth is exploring newer ideas. A spoken word passage above a distant saxophone solo is found within In The Absence Ov Light and brass instruments, particularly horns (Was that a pun aimed at The Devil, Nergal?) are present in tracks such as the opening track and The Satanist with the simple yet blackening bass lines and whimpering overdubs leaving you feel possessed. These additions create an atmosphere of honesty and reality as another dynamic layer within the album.

O Father O Satan O Sun is Nergal’s final pledge to Satanism. This epic 9 minute track encapsulates all of The Satanist’s components. From the chilling overdubs that start the song to the provoking lyrics to the satanic prayer to end the album. The changes in dynamics help the song speed along whilst you are left to contemplate how such majesty can be bottled into one track. What’s the saying? What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger…