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I Descended From the Mount Sinai... - 97%

psychoticnicholai, May 20th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2014, CD, Nuclear Blast

Recovering from sickness and seeing your strength renewed tends to make you value your health and strength a lot more, especially if said sickness brought you closer to death. I believe this is the case for Behemoth, who's frontman Nergal had been suffering from leukemia prior to this, and that new zest for life gained from surviving that has made The Satanist into one of Behemoth's most massive and driven albums, almost as if some new infernal energy had been imbued into this band. The band's sound on this album also seems to reflect a new, powerful, more inspired, and genuinely satanic outlook with the death metal of previous Behemoth albums receiving a massive dose of black metal which has returned in a more massive form than before. This is an album that blares its presence high atop the peaks of darkness, mass, and sheer depraved passion. It expands and diversifies Behemoth's composition to make songs that are not only recognizable and distinguished, but also manage to be hellish and divine at the same time.

The entire sound of The Satanist is invigorating and hair-raising to the point of it feeling like an infernal power trip. Through the compositions, through the production, through the instruments and vocals themselves, it feels like this album is hailing something big and terrifying. The music in store here really is a behemoth in the way that it delivers its explosive and gripping songs which also show a ton of versatility in how they are written while still staying solid and consistent in their prideful demonic might. The guitars feel like a massive, churning tidal wave of tremolos, ready to obliterate anything within 10 miles of the shore whether delivering the regular barrage of riffs or bleeding out the sky with solos. The vocals are a lively roar with the unholy poetry in the lyrics being clear as day despite being growled. Nergal sounds like a man possessed, and the mixture of might and mania heard in his voice makes his performance positively flooring. The drumming is versatile and employs a variety of fills and tempos with rage when necessary and stoic reserve when going slower and more deliberately. They also use extraneous elements to a very potent effect, such as horns, choirs, and even saxophones to add these odd, but notable flairs to these songs. It all works to make this into something that literally sounds awesome, as in making you awestruck.

There is also a lot to be expected from the very versatile songwriting on here that makes every track distinct. Every track seems to want to blast you to bits in its glorious rebellion against Heaven. The songs with the most catch to them are “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” with its mighty, thundering riffs and roared vocals proclaiming blasphemies as loudly, as strongly, and as clearly as possible, and “The Satanist” which has a very simmering creep to it, as though the winding riffs are working to beckon you towards Hell. What you would expect to be usual death metal instead has a very chilling and massive blackened edge to it with a decent sense of atmosphere and mass. There are even songs that change the formula altogether. “O Father O Satan O Sun” turns the usual blackened sound on it’s head and instead starts things off with a harrowing choir and a marching pace that feels very glorious and rapturous, in a way that makes it feel as though the sky has cracked open and the end has just begun. Every song works to distinguish itself right out of the gate which is always a great idea whether starting off with a slow build, Nergal’s deranged satanic sermons (beginning “Messe Noir” with the phrase “I BELIVE IN SATAN!”), or a massive, thundering charge of drums and tremolos, these songs are clear, distinct, and mighty. The lines of each song being clear and the writing running the gamut of slow builders, to chilling fast-paced blasts, to songs that are more cryptic, or even rapturous. While staying consistent in style, Behemoth show a stunning level of variety, grace, and ingenuity.

The Satanist shows a band that, if they aren’t already at their peak, they are certainly striving for it. The guitar solos on here feel absolutely sky-rending and further punctuate the feelings of terror mixed with glory, again with “O Father O Satan O Sun” having one of the most hair-raising solos on here. The whole album oozes this sort of power that is only further punctuated by the songs written for it. Even lyrically, it appears this was made in dedication to some higher form of satanic expression rather than a simple blasphemous death metal album, reading out in a very biblical manner. I already talked about how varied the songwriting is, with it being enough to make each song stand tall on its own. Each of them has some riff, some lyrics, some line, some quirk, some songwriting deviation, or some combination of all of these to make it worth setting apart and remembering. From the introductory crawl of “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” through the dark corridors of the title track, all the way to the brilliantly climactic ending. Behemoth handles this with the skill and the fury of corrupted seraphim to make a truly solid album.

Behemoth have gone above and beyond the call of duty with The Satanist, creating an album that is as grand and as harrowing as they could do so. While it may bear a lot of similarities to their previous albums, Behemoth have done things on The Satanist that make them seem more determined and more invigorated than before. This album wields its dissonance and its power in a way that makes it distinguished. The songs are the kind of affairs that I find myself returning to again and again. It is an album that feels full, alive, and mighty at every minute of its run-time, with both the vigor and the memorability to show itself as close to ideal. It puts the satanism that has been at the backbone of Behemoth’s identity for the longest time into harrowing musical form that bleeds out in every dissonant note, every bark from Nergal’s throat, every pound of the drums from Inferno’s kit, and every rare calm moment that does more to enhance the darkness rather than relieve it. It feels like a massive musical tribute to the figure and symbolism of Lucifer in the most powerful way Behemoth could do so. Safe to say, I enjoyed this quite thoroughly.