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Wonderfully Dark - The Satanist - 86%

WolfWatervoort, February 15th, 2014

In truth, it was only a couple of years ago when I really began listening to Behemoth. The brutal drums and harsh guitar riffs were very indicative of Behemoth's 'blackened death' style, and of course Nergal has an incredibly distinctive voice. 'The Satanist' brings a new side to Behemoth, perhaps a more melodic style, but they seem to have pulled it off!

One of the most interesting things about the album is that it is able to mix different styles very well. For example, the first song, 'Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel' has a very slow tempo and has a major focus on Nergal's voice. The song 'Amen', however, is a fantastic example of why people hail Behemoth as a blackened death metal band. The drums are extremely quick, and the guitars are given a higher focus, with very complicated riffs accompanying the brutality of Nergal's voice. Somehow, the transitions between these two styles are pulled off quite well.

Perhaps my favorite thing about this album is the darkness of it. Recently, many bands have lost their focus on making music dark, and have focused on making it shocking. Dimmu Borgir's disappointing album 'Abrahadabra' is indicative of this. However, with the aptly named 'The Satanist', Behemoth have kept their music dark (for the most part) and have not relied on short, shocking lyrics. 'Ora Nobis Pro Lucifer' has extremely extensive lyrics that are not simply stating 'Hail Satan, Hail Satan, Hail Satan', but rather give a story of how and why one would hail Satan, which is an important distinction between blackened death metal and extreme metal. In the song 'O Father O Satan O Sun!', we even hear a thrashy guitar solo (a very impressive one). Behemoth have not completely lost their roots, though, as is shown by the song 'Furor Divinus'. The tempo and beat changes remind me of The Apostasy, with its distinctly different lead-ins and verses.

However, with the song 'In The Absence ov Light', we have a random acoustic bit that does not fit, with a speaking voice that rapidly moves into Nergal's harsh vocals, which, too, does not fit. With this song and parts of the others, there is a feel that Behemoth have tried to make their music more extreme, and rather unfortunately, they have not entirely pulled it off. In the same song (...ov Light), we have what is almost a breakdown, something not generally found in Behemoth songs, but which could potentially appeal to the masses. This is the disappointing bit of the album. While they have kept their dark roots and added some melody into it, with parts of the album, they have progressed with the times to the point of moving towards melodic death metal. I have no problem with melodic death metal, Amon Amarth is one of my all-time favorite bands. But it's not Behemoth. Behemoth is brutal and dark and makes people around you worry about sitting next to you, but it makes you remember why death metal can mean something to you. The lyrics remain meaningful, the riffs are still metal, but something is missing that makes Behemoth distinct from the rest of death metal.

This album, then, is a great listen if you want something dark and something that keeps a desire to create metal separate from a desire to create shock. However, if you're looking for old Behemoth, this is not the album for you. Artists, though, have every right to progress their music as they see fit, and Behemoth have done just that. They've progressed, for the moment, it's worked out, but we've yet to see if they can keep their blackened death roots and incorporate it into the rest of their work. And after a battle with leukemia, it's very difficult to criticize Nergal, as he's released a properly great metal album.