Behemoth – The Satanist
Release Date: February 3, 2014
When we come across the word “Behemoth”, the first and the only thing which reflects in our mind is Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski. In my life, I have often heard stories of people explaining how close they were to death, how they survived going through hell. For these people, life will never be the same again, which is something we, the others, will never be able to grasp completely. They don’t fear anymore regardless of their religious or nonreligious beliefs. Eventually these tales often end up like an emotional journey; a journey which motivates people to live and enjoy life as if there is no tomorrow. We start keeping the unpredictable nature of life in mind. Behemoth‘s “The Satanist” is one such story where the protagonist Nergal explains his pain, his anger, his emotions, his memories and what not.
Over two decades and 10 albums, the word “consistent” is what defines Behemoth records; with dense, layered and suffocating atmosphere, blistering riffs, crushing solo’s, eclectic drumming and thumping bass lines. Musically, 2013 was wonderful with brilliant records by The Ocean, Death Angel, Queensryche, Haken etc., so expectations were extremely high for “The Satanist”; an album picked as metal’s most anticipated offering of 2014. Fans have been waiting for five long years.
Let’s get straight to the point, the songwriting and musicianship on “The Satanist” is unequivocally worthy of praise. The in-your-face attack of “Furor Divinus”, “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer”, “The Satanist” or “O Father O Satan O Sun” are ferocious and precisely executed. However, on the other side, we have few tracks; “Messe Noir” and “In the Absence ov Light” which are average and do not continue the combination of layered atmosphere and murderous aggression. Although there is just something about the precision attack of the compositions and the sheer viciousness of the delivery that makes “The Satanist” sound like a vicious combination of black metal with a tinge of death metal sound every time I spin it. Maybe some of it has to do the mix of thick and gooey bass licks and sickeningly crunchy guitars that producers Wojciech Wieslawski, Slawomir Wieslawski and Nergal have skillfully captured in the studio. It could be the furious pace or the lethal chord progressions of Adam “Nergal” Darski and Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber (who rip out some lacerating solos). Nergal’s patented screams and distinctive growls might even be more psychotic this time around. It takes a certain amount of balls to do anything different in the stymied extreme metal scene, and here, for the past few albums at least, Behemoth have taken that challenge to heart.
“The Satanist” also gets better with repeat listens, a sign of lasting quality. “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” is the perfect opener. It is slow, dense and well-layered and grows as the song proceeds with Zbigniew “Inferno” Prominski‘s merciless pounding behind the skins.
“Furor Divinus” is as insane a three minutes that you will hear from Behemoth. Several tracks are already beginning to sound like classics to these ears, most notably the fat crush and tricky tempo shifts of “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” or “Ben Sahar”. Nergal’s ferocious vocals and his precise lyrical delivery need to be appreciated especially the outro of “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer”:
Bleeding from black holes,
Whom horns caress,
And whom God mourns.
“Amen”, “O Father O Satan O Sun” and “The Satanist” are close behind. The arrangements of all three are frantic, unsettling, and difficult to rid from the dark recesses of the mind. The more you listen, the more you’ll begin to appreciate the six-string intricacies of Nergal and Seth as well. “O Father O Satan O Sun!” closes the album in an appropriately strangulating manner. I heard the album almost five times back to back, not knowing why. The riffs absolutely pierce, just as the rhythms pulverize and the vocals thunder. Nergal’s unique vocal pattern on a 7 minute epic, an epileptic seizure of a song called “O Father O Satan O Sun!” is just one of those cool little touches.
It ends with another breath; an exhalation that makes the hour between it and the opening feel like a torrential scream. The more you listen, the more you’ll hear, and the more you’ll appreciate this bloody good time of a blackened death metal album. The end result is a record which seems like a personal challenge to Nergal–keeping his confidence and hunger to achieve more in mind, dismissing his threatening illness and crafting the best music he has ever come up with. Yes, keeping the legacy of Behemoth and the emotional aspect of the album in mind, Nergal and his team have delivered the best album of their career.