Review: Behemoth – The Satanist

Posted: March 27, 2014 in Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

If you’re here, you know who Behemoth are. If you know who Behemoth are, then you understand how important a record like ‘The Satanist’ is to the greater metal world. But, that does not necessarily mean you know ‘The Satanist’.

Behemoth have now passed beyond mere genres. They were black metal, then death metal, then blackened death metal. Now they have progressed back towards black metal, leaving much of the thunderous power of death metal behind. But they haven’t become the trebley, screeching black metal ou think of when the genre is mentioned. No, Behemoth have used ‘The Satanist’ to become the embodiment of black metal’s savage spirit. Opener, ‘Blow Your Trumpets, Gabriel’ is an eerie, black metal classic. It possesses all the black magic atmospherics that the band have weaved in between their death metal past, along with a few eastern flourishes (although a lot less than previous records) and haunting roars. ‘Furor Divinus’ is a blasting, careering train of hatred and vicious wrath. Nergal has lost none of his hypnotising powerful vocal prowess. His voice commands attention from his converts, spewing bile and rage.

Musically the album is a whirlwind of blastbeats and scything riffs. But it is not without its slower, more majestic moments. ‘Messe Noire’ opens with a towering riff and has a classy, almost heavy metal solo at the end. ‘Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer’ is icy malevolence through and through, bringing to mind Gorgoroth’s finer moments. This is the record where Nergal elevates himself to the level of iconic black metal vocalists like Gaahl, Ihsahn and Erik Danielsson. This is also the record where Behemoth do the impossible: remove the majority of their signature sounds (the eastern melodies, the thunderous death metal propulsion) and yet somehow become more essential than ever.

‘Amen’ is the closest we get to ‘old’ Behemoth, a tornado of death metal overlaid with some of Nergal’s most evil vocal lines. But it is also catchy as hell, like all good Behemoth tracks have been. Somehow, ‘The Satanist’ could almost be the most accessible Behemoth record, sacrificing none of their credibility as a band of savage, Satanic music. As they always have, Behemoth have walked thier own path, communicating their affinity with the Dark Lord on a personal but violent level. Nergal’s recovery from leukemia has made him, and his band, all the more powerful. Behemoth is power, all consuming, invigorating power.

An album like this is hard to quantify. Sure, you can argue that, by ditching death metal almost entirely, Behemoth run the risk of losing a section of their fan base who enjoy that kind of thing. But, by embracing the cold majesty of black metal’s finest, and combining that with their trademark intensity and almost religious (sacrilege!) fervour for their satanic saviour, Behemoth have ascended beyond the need for such things. ‘The Satanist’ is probably going to be the best metal record this year. And that is no slight to many other fine metal bands who are going to be producing some excellent records in 2014. But I fear no one will be able to top this; a stunning, malevolent force of evil sat astride a throne of extremity. The Behemoth shall not be moved

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.