Posts Tagged ‘Behemoth’

My first gig of 2020 was one that, originally, I was just going for the support act. I fucking love Behemoth, and to be honest hadn’t really been into Slipknot for a long time. But I guess the 15 year old hiding in me somewhere said ‘you need to go to that, it’ll be fucking cool’. Well the little bastard was right. Another trip up the road to the Big Smoke, Glasvegas, my former home, is always welcome as well. A couple of beers on board, I swaggered on down to the Hydro ready to join the throngs of ‘goths’ ready for some headbanging.

But first, the original reason for my purchase; Behemoth were fucking outstanding. Nergal and crew showed why they deserve to be on stages this size all the time with a gloriously brutal and grandiose performance. Nergal stalks the stage, with every guitar riff dripping with Satanic menace. Couple that with throat shredding versions of ‘Daimonos’ and the superlative ‘Conquer All’ and they laid a very tough challenge at the feet of our headliners to follow them. They even got fire, which I was surprised at since normally support acts have gotta tone it down a bit. Not bible tearing though so…

But follow them, Slipknot surely did. As much as I’m sure many of my generation will hate to admit, you wouldn’t be into death metal and the like if it wasn’t for Slipknot turning up when you were 13 years old and fucking destroying your perceptions of heavy music. ‘Iowa’ did that for me, and I only realised how important that was when I witnessed 14,000 people going absolutely insane for this band. The Hydro has never been louder, as the band smashed through powerful versions of all their classics. ‘Duality’, Before I Forget’, ‘Eyeless’, ‘Wait and Bleed’; this was a veritable greatest hits by a band whose accessibility does not prevent them from being intense and heavy as fuck.

This was a gig that was utter joy to behold. Slipknot at full power are a tight, fire breathing machine of chaos. Explosions, flamethrowers, flaming baseball bats; everything you could want. And as a sold out Hydro screamed every word, you couldn’t help but be intoxicated by it. Closing with ‘Surfacing’, we all went home exhausted, sore throats and necks, but knowing we’d seen something special. I’ve seen both Sabbath and Slayer retire at the Hydro, but neither were as visceral or as energetic as this.

Behemoth - I Loved You at Your Darkest

Behemoth need no introduction for anyone who subscribes to this site, and I recently saw the Polish black/death juggernaut destroy a sold out venue in Glasgow in the most impressive way. In light of that, I decided to revisit their latest opus, ‘I Loved You At Your Darkest’, released just last year.

After the ominous chanting of opener ‘Solve’, the fiery assault of ‘Wolves of Siberia’ carries on the legacy of ‘The Satanist’. I read a lot of criticism of this record before I heard it; about how it’s just ‘The Satanist Part 2’, or that Behemoth are creating a more accessible sound to get a bigger audience. Frankly, I don’t see the latter at all, and the first one makes sense as ‘The Satanist’ saw the band drawn into a new sound that works well, so they’re continuing that direction. Their mixing of their black metal heritage with a fearsome dose of death metal ripples through the Rotting Christ-esque ‘God=Dog’, while the anthemic ‘Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica’ maintains their blasphemous grip on melodies. The grandiose ‘Sabbath Mater’ weaves those Middle Eastern melodies round some severe neck snapping riffs.

‘I Loved You At Your Darkest’ is a much more melancholic and layered record than Behemoth’s previous work however, like the gloomy gothic tones of ‘Bartzabel’, and I guess this type of experimentation is where the ‘accessible’ criticisms comes from. But it is far better to attempt different things than to just smash away with songs that are repetitive and one dimensional. And if you crank up the ravaging howl of ‘Rom 5:8’, you can never accuse Behmoth of going soft.

‘I Loved You At Your Darkest’ is a triumphant follow up to one of my favourite records ever, and cements Behemoth as a true giant and icon in extreme music. It rips and tears as heavy as much of their recent back catalogue, but also displays a wonderful grasp of dynamics and melody that you may not have imagined. Behemoth are the best in the business; trailblazers, innovators and definitive legends, and ‘I Loved You At Your Darkest’ only serves as an exclamation point on that.


Now my previous lists have been specific to genre, but this is my ultimate top 20 of the year. It’ll include some records that you won’t have seen in previous ones as, for example, I only really heard two good power metal records this year, so I can’t really make a list from it. Also, where do you categorise certain bands, like Triptykon, who cover a wide spread of genres? Anyhow, my top favourites of the year are as follows:

20. Killer Be Killed – S/T – A supergroup that combines equal parts of their bands to create awesome

19. Grand Magus – Triumph and Power – Riffs of stone and hooks of great magnitude, the title track alone is one of my favourite songs of the year.

18. Winterfylleth – The Divination of Antiquity – Another record of spellbinding black metal from England’s finest. Windswept and vast

17. Edguy – Space Police – Catchy as hell and stupidly anthemic, Tobias and the squad bring some RAWK to their power metal greatness

16. Electric Wizard – Time to Die – A suffocating, occult riddled drag down doom alley. Evil and heavy as fuck

15. Mastodon – Once More Round the Sun – A big improvement over The Hunter and Mastodon’s prog doom trip extends further

14. Mayhem – Esoteric Warfare – A follow up to ‘Ordo Ad Chao’ was always going to be difficult, but the True Mayhem brought out another stormer

13. At the Gates – At War With Reality – Thank fuck we finally have the follow up to ‘Slaughter of the Soul’. They put all copycats to shame.

12. EyeHateGod – EyeHateGod – NOLA sludge titans send Joey LaCaze off with one of their most superlative records yet. Angry, harsh and utterly devastating

11. Decapitated – Blood Mantra – Poland’s finest sons of death continue their streak of blinding records with yet another punishing exercise in tech death

10. Anaal Nathrakh – Desideratum – Nasty, abrasive and skullfuckingly epic in parts, Anaal do things their way, and better than most

9. Inter Arma – The Cavern – A Spellbinding 45 minute trip through the mind of one of post metal and doom’s brightest sparks. Wonderful

8. Hour of Penance – Regicide – Always brutal and relentless, I’ve grown fonder and fonder of this record the longer the year has gone on. Death to all!

7. Dead Congregation – Promulgation of the Fall – Nasty, lurching death metal chaos, belching death and pestilence to all

6. Whalerider – Thanatos – A surprise late entry, and its been on constant rotation. A stormingly good rock record with doses of psych doom weirdness too

5. Panopticon – Road to the North – Soaring and scorching black metal, vast and hypnotic. Epic black metal is the theme this year, and its great

4. Sabaton – Heroes – I fucking love this band. No one writes more anthemic metal tunes than this. Fantastic record and catchy as hell

3. Mount Salem – Endless – A starkly beautiful trad doom record with perfect vocals and atmosphere. The fact it is third on my list is testament to its quality

2. Behemoth – The Satanist – The rebirth of a legend and a triumphant return. Any other year this would’ve been the best by a country mile

1. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata – Nothing could beat the pure misanthropy, despair and heaviness wrought from Tom G Warrior. A simply monumental release

I remember the first moment I saw this line up I thought, ‘holy shit, I HAVE to go to that.’ I’d never seen Behemoth until that night, which was an eternal stain on my credentials that I was more than happy to remove. Getting to the ABC early was an excellent call, making sure I got Winterfylleth’s set. It was short but the slowly growing crowd was receptive to their vast, windswept black metal majesty. They are the UK’s equivalent of Emperor or Drudkh, a black metal act with a great understanding of scale and atmosphere.

Grand Magus seemed like the odd ones out on this bill; their raucous heavy metal thunder is much less extreme but nonetheless welcome. With riffs hewn from granite and hooks the size of fjords, the Swedes barrel through some brilliant anthems, including the rousing ‘Triumph and Power’ and the ever singalong-able ‘As the Oar Strikes the Water’. Decapitated, on the other hand, bring all the death metal fury and tech death wizardry you could ever want. It is bludgeoning, relentless and startingly complex. A band that I saw a few years back in a tiny sweatbox venue that seemed totally at home on a bigger stage. My brain physically hurt after their set. That’s a mighty compliment.

Onto the headliners. First of all I can say, NO ONE I have ever seen live brings the feeling of ritual, of atmosphere and fury quite like Behemoth. Well, maybe Watain but it’s very close. The band were astounding live, channelling the full hurricane force of both their death and black metal incarnations, splicing classics like ‘Christians to the Lions’ and the devastating ‘Slaves Shall Serve’ with newer cuts from this year’s masterpiece ‘The Satanist’. Drummer Inferno is one of the most talented I’ve ever seen, and Nergal commands his crowd like a dark priest of Satan. When the gig ends with the band dressed in hoods with horns protruding, the feeling of the blasphemous is complete. Only a slight technical problem with the drums at one point slowed the assault, and this was probably one of the best live performances I’ve borne witness to. Behemoth are true giants of extremity, sacrificing none of their ethos while still putting on a hell of a show.

I plan to spend most of December catching up on as many records from 2014 that I’ve missed so that my end of year lists can be a bit more researched and accurate than they would be if I wrote them now. However, I know for a fact that this is a list I can put together now. There’s a definite number of records I keep coming back to from 2014, and many will feature again in lists in a month’s time. But for now, here are my most played records of 2014:

1. Mount Salem – Endless: A hauntingly brilliant doom record, and probably my favourite discovery of 2014. A full blown contender for my favourite record of this year, Mount Salem are something very special.

2. Killer Be Killed – S/T: A supergroup that matches the term in every way. ‘Wings of Feather and Wax’ is up there with my favourite songs of the year too

3. Mastodon – Once More Round the Sun: A storming comeback from the masters of prog doom

4. Behemoth – The Satanist: I see these guys in 10 days time for the first time, and the newest record has been one of 2014’s most astounding achievements

5. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata: Another harrowing trip into the darkness of Tom G Warrior. Bleak and beautiful

6. Edguy – Space Police: My girlfriend’s favourite record this year I believe, and ‘Love Tyger’ is the stupidest brilliant song of the year. It’s so FUCKING catchy. I love this record

7. Sabaton – Heroes: I see these guys in only 6 days’ time and I think their newest record has their strongest collection of anthems since The Art of War. ‘We saw crosses grow on Anzio!’

I’ve read a few of these lists already in the last month or so, and even though I am now perpetuating the idea (how long before we do ‘best of so far’ lists every month?), I think it is still viable as a point of interest. 2014 has been a pretty damn fine year for extreme music already, and we’ve just reached August. Now, advance warning here, I am NOT including any of this year’s record which I haven’t heard yet. So, as good as the new Wolves in the Throne Room record is supposed to be, as I haven’t heard it yet I will not pass judgement. It’s inappropriate, and unfair. No doubt it will appear in my ‘year-end’ list if its as good as I’ve read. Any way, top 10.

10: Origin – Omnipresent: I only heard this for the first time last night, and I’ve already ripped it twice since. Origin do tech death with astonishing violence and masterful dynamics. It’s a vicious, sleek death metal record that will flay skin from bone.

9: Obituary – Inked in Blood: Now, I am lucky enough to be reviewing this for my good friends at Sleeping Shaman, and so I’ll keep the details to myself but nonetheless it is top 10 material, no doubt.

8: Killer Be Killed – S/T: This is a definite highlight for me, a supergroup that matches it’s potential astoundingly. First track ‘Wings of Feather and Wax’ starts almost every playlist of mine at the moment

7: Arch Enemy – War Eternal: Arch Enemy release a new album after losing their most iconic weapon in Angela Gossow. Thankfully, Alyssa Gluz-Whyte is more than up to the task and this is a new melodic death metal classic

6: Vader – Tibi Et Iti: Polish death metal legends create yet another ripping, tearing death metal album full of death and metal. Well, it’s never gonna be anything else is it? Brutal

5: Mastodon – Once More Round the Sun: Mastodon may never equal ‘Crack the Skye’ but ‘Once More Round the Sun’ is the progressive coupling of grace, crushing riffs and catchy ass songs. Love it

4: Mount Salem – Endless: A surprising album for me, a debut of a female fronted doom band that has captured my imagination. Vocals are lush, riffs are huge and the whole air of the occult makes the complete package.

3: Triptykon – Melana Chasmata: Tom G. Warrior’s mesmerising journey into the darkness is awe inspiring at every turn. No one should have been able to better ‘Eparistera Daimones’, but he did

2: Boris – Noise: A band that can rarely do wrong, and rarely fits any kind of genre or structure. Boris ARE my favourite band, and ‘Noise’ is an elegant record that takes all their myriad sounds and condenses them into one beautiful whole.

1: Behemoth – The Satanist: What more can be said? For Nergal to return from leukemia to music is miracle enough. To create one of metal’s most defining records in the 21st century is even more staggering. Dripping with evil, twisting black metal in new and malevolent ways and leading the armies of darkness into the light, ‘The Satanist’ will take some beating this year.


But we still have new Electric Wizard to come…

This link takes you to Loudwire’s choices for best metal songs of 2014 so far. Whereas I’m much more of an end of year guy, its a great starting point for where metal has been great this year (and its not even May yet). I decided to do a quick rundown of them all for you, and also to refresh myself on their awesomeness, as I'[m still catching up on records from last year, let alone this year.

Mastodon – High Road: What a teaser for the new record! It’s got that killer Mastodon propulsive thrust, so essential in making them the powerhouse they are, but never sacrificing the uber melodic choral flair they’ve developed over the past few records. Essentially, its what Mastodon in 2014 HAD to sound like, and it has raised my expectations a lot for ‘Once More ‘Round the Sun’

Insomnium – While We Sleep: I’ve been a big fan of this band for years, since their ‘Above a Weeping World’ record, and they score again with their triumphant mix of gloomy death/doom and melodic metalcore. Insomnium have emotion, and its a big hook for me. They weave some excellent gothic harmonies into their metal, and I look forward to getting a copy of their new record.

Septicflesh – Order of Dracul: Septicflesh are a brilliant prospect; symphonic death metal with epic orchestrations and terrifying aggression. They are heavy as fuck, and this track bodes well for the rest of ‘Titan’. Its got a lot to live up to, but if past efforts have shown us anything, its that Septicflesh can do it.

Triptykon – Boleskine House: Probably my most anticipated record of the year, ‘Melana Chasmata’ only needs to be half as dark, dense and twistedly evil as ‘Boleskine House’ and it’ll be the best record of the year.

Behemoth – Blow Your Trumpets, Gabriel: I believe I’ve waxed lyrical about this album enough. Stunning

Black Label Society – My Dying Time: It’s classic BLS, heavy bluesy riffs, pinch harmonics and the finest of Wylde’s soulful Layne Staley impression

Cynic – True Hallucination Speak: Cynic may have left the death metal behind, but ‘True Hallucination Speak’ is a signal that they remain one of progressive metal’s most awe-inspiring bands.

Arch Enemy – War Eternal: Ok, the new girl may not quite match up to Angela Gossow’s terrifying roar, but its a damn close one, and ‘War Eternal’ is a fine track of razor sharp melodeath that I hope is a signifier of what the new record will be. Gossow is gone, but the metal lives on. WAR ETERNAL!!

Agalloch  – Celestial Effigy: Agalloch have become one of those bands that mature and evolve on every record, making them a joy to listen to. Their new track is another example of how epic black metal and doom can mix with breathtaking results

Steel Panther – Gloryhole: This is fucking ridiculous. It’s also brilliant.

Trap Them – Salted Crypts: Nasty, visceral hardcore, Trap Them have been essential for years, and this track is no different.

Ringworm – Hammer of the Witch: Man, this track just slays. Aggressive, vicious and damn brutal. Exactly what you need in your life!

Hark – Palendromeda: A new prospect in stoner doom, and if this track is much to go by, it should be a bright future for these Welsh lads.

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