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Expect no mercy. - 89%

PigBenis, May 22nd, 2008

What we have here is a fantastic slab of black/death metal. Brutal in Behemoth’s soul-destroying, all-devouring way, with the usual Egyptian like guitars and crushing drumwork. It’s all here, with maybe a few minor flaws here and there, but altogether an album that would be fantastic with which to introduce someone to not only Behemoth, but the black/death fusion genre itself, as it showcases quite an effective fusion of death metal brutality and black metal atmosphere. This is certainly not a boring album. You never get the same thing in two different songs. Unlike most death metal, you can easily distinguish where one song stops and another one begins, and you can easily tell them apart.

Inferno’s drumming and Nergal’s vocals in particular are two extremely unique and distinguishable traits of not only this album, but also the band Behemoth. The former, being insanely fast and powerful, driving the noise along with a singularly crushing force and the latter being an insane, misanthropic howl. Certainly not your usual “cookie monster” stuff.

Horns ov Baphomet – Intruiging introduction, sounding almost like a binaural beat. We are introduced slowly into the guitars – fittingly horn like. And the first taste of Nergal’s vocals blows anyone who listens to it away. “RAISE! THY! HORNS!!” I must say, I definitely obeyed. Didn’t you? And the guitars work themselves up into a powerful, screeching, hateful climax. A great way to start the album.

Modern Iconoclast – Rushes along, the drumming breaking bones and Nergal’s howling crushing souls along the way, leaving you only the occasional pause for breath where it slows down, albeit slightly. During said pauses you can literally feel the band, corpsepaint and all, staring you down, telling you to “Get up, fucker! We’re not even nearly done!”

Here and Beyond – Behemoth’s unique sound. Even if there wasn’t Inferno’s drumming and Nergal’s howls, just the guitar work, it would be easily recognized as Behemoth. Despite this, it’s almost a throwaway song, although I certainly liked the brief orchestral touch at the very beginning. Sounds self-contradictory, I know, but this one doesn’t have quite the same effect, and is not quite as interesting as the rest of the songs on the album. Still worth listening to however.

As Above so Below – Almost Behemoth’s magnum opus, this opus is one hell of an epic opus, as opuses (opii?) go. From the really awesome name, to the crushing, sadistic riff (which is painful to listen to in the good way), this song is crushing, sinister and evil. Nergal’s vocals are a lot more distinguishable in this song, further adding to it by allowing listeners to decipher some of the mysterious, evilly cryptic lyrics.

Blackest ov the Black – Kudos to anyone who didn’t laugh at the name, which bears the obvious stench of someone trying too hard to be kvlt. However, though it may not completely live up to its name, this one’s one hell of a thundering number. The double bass kick is both insanely fast and perfectly executed. True for the whole album, but it is exceptionally noticeable in this song, for Behemoth are “BLACKEST OF THE BLACK!” Slows down a bit in the chorus, and fades out into the first interlude of the album.

Hekau 718 - Basically this interlude is a short but effective piece of dark ambient, odd sounding but certainly effective and not calming in the slightest. On the contrary, it’s extremely disconcerting.

The Harlot ov the Saints – After the ride slows down, albeit briefly, you are hit with the fast and aggressive “Harlot ov the Saints”. However, in all honesty, this one certainly feels a bit forced, like they tried to hard to physically break your neck after the “eye of the storm” interlude.

No Sympathy for Fools – CRUSH! DEVOUR! SLAY!! Easily the best song on the album, this one actually succeeds at breaking necks, unlike the song before it. The riffs are crushing, the drumming thunders along and adds a huge amount to the song. Nergal’s howls are perfect. “FOOLS!” This one grabs Christians by the throat, forces a bible down their oesophagus, crucifies them upside down, then explodes out with an unfathomable combination of force and speed. I highly recommend you get the album just for this song.

Zos Kia Cultus – Ah, the title track. We are introduced by a march-like snare drum, and then are whipped into following its unrelenting pace. This is a slower, but no less powerful number. One of the better tracks on the album, while being overshadowed by its predecessor. Bloodied, bruised, begging for mercy, the listener must march along to this battle hymn of the hordes.

Fornicatus Benefictus – Ah, and if it wasn’t for this bit in particular, the album would have received a 94% at least. This interlude, unlike Hekau 718, does not actually succeed in setting a mood or creating any sort of atmosphere. Just succeeds at being slow, and detracting. Albeit being only 52 seconds long, I recommend skipping this one.

Typhonian Soul Zodiak – Here we go. We’re back in business, after that short dip into boredom territory. Thankfully it was short, or it would have cost the album more points! One of the more Middle Eastern sounding songs on the album, this contains more of Behemoth’s trademark sound, actually done in a more entertaining fashion than “Here and Beyond”. This one has more of the alternate vocals in the background, which Behemoth also does effectively. Gradually this one speeds up, and turns once again into a powerful, brutal climax. Then it fades, into…

Heru Ra Ha: Let There be Might – Man, despite titles like “Blackest ov the Black” and “Dragon’s Lair”, Behemoth can make some really awesome song titles. Just how cool is that, “let there be might”? Oh, the song? Yes. Well. Yet more brutality. The survivors are found, interrogated, tortured and beheaded. The informants were spared, and permitted to serve as slaves. This one gallops past, with odd yet entertaining rhythms, and before you know it, the albums finished, with a final screech from Nergal and his happy pony kitten friends.

Expect no mercy from this one.