03 February 2014
If you’re setting out to write a record with such an obviously blasphemous message, then you better have the balls and knowledge to back it up. Behemoth have both in deliciously heathen spades and The Satanist swirls with a current of dark, deep, fiery understanding of the underworld and its many denizens.
After suffering delays due to frontman Adam “Nergal: Darski’s much publicised battle –and triumph – over leukaemia, and his never-ending court cases regarding his anti-Christian stage antics and his home country’s efforts to stifle that right of free speech, The Satanist proves that old adage – “Good things come to those who wait” – and if you were worried that the constant moving release date was in some way a sign of negativity, then worry no more.
The Satanist is good. It’s great. It’s downright phenomenal in fact. From the huge, weighty chorus-lines, to the outrageous guitar solos from Seth (aka Patryk Sztyber) to the darkness held in Nergal’s voice and his command over all – The Satanist is pure in its invocations and dastardly in its execution and Behemoth have become the band they’ve always threatened to be. 2009’s Evangelion was good, more than decent, but compared to the music the band are producing now it seems a trifle weak. Behemoth have ramped up the blackened elements of their sound and on this new work have left a lot of the death metal aspects of their sphere behind. The darkness is total here and it’s completely consuming in its measure and you’re constantly left wondering just how much of Nergal’s near-death experience has coloured the writing for this (spoiler: A LOT).
‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’ begins with what can only be described as the most explicit lyric anyone is likely to hear this year and if words such as “I saw the virgin’s cunt spawning forth the snake” don’t infect your mind with images of absolute filth and disgrace, then Behemoth follow it up with maelstroms of noise – clashing vocals, synth lines that crawl with chaos and more blackness than the inside of a well-hidden cave. This, being the lead single, is certainly a message – Behemoth are back, and boy, they more alive than ever.
‘Messe Noire’ ramps up the unholy aspect of Behemoth’s glorious lyrical testaments yet the highlight surely comes with the solo at the end of the track which beats with a confident swagger which pushes directly into ‘Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer’ and injects the song with an arrogance that comes from knowing you’ve got something incredibly special on your hands. The Satanist is, without a doubt, the most coherent and powerful record that the Polish band have put out. Sure, Demigod is great, and the aforementioned Evangelion is a terrific work but this time around the band have stepped back a tad and allowed the music to do a lot of the talking. Whereas before Behemoth might have gone a little more all out in terms of layers and sound, with The Satanist they have laid more simple foundations. With a title such as it has, the music within needs to be as direct and while there are flourishes of texture and summoned spirits galore, the record pounds with a control that Behemoth have, up until now, yet to present to the world. They’ve been a band for over twenty years and that’s no slight on their catalogue at all as they have some truly incredible work to look back on but it seems as though Nergal’s realisation that nothing lasts forever has given Behemoth the kind of fire that was missing on previous works. Where Evangelion was a dense, death metal opus The Satanist feels more spacious and the band allow their ideas to curl into deep recesses while still pulling at the strings of your soul like a macabre puppet master.
The title track bounds along on a beat which burrows into the brain and the sly, evil slither of the song feeds into the malevolent pulse of the record and it’s clear that this time around leaving behind the more obscure demons of history has paid off tenfold. Concentrating on the most unholy of all fallen angels and their relationship with Satan has imbued Behemoth with an energy that is tangible and deeply passionate. ‘Ben Sahar’ revels in a delicious guitar tone and the beat sweats with a filthy and sensual touch that follows into ‘O Father O Satan O Sun’ and lifts the song into new realms of otherworldly, diabolic intensity.
The Satanist is devastatingly good and Behemoth are on a completely new level of musical attack. The black, disgusting and ultimately powerful heart of the album lies in the absolute belief in the words spoken and it’s difficult not to be drawn in by Nergal’s proclamations of unhallowed intent. Taking on an ever increasing black metal tone as the record progresses, rather than sitting in the midst of death as they have in more recent times has given Behemoth a new edge and it’s a tactic that has worked so wonderfully in their favour. The Satanist will be talked about for years to come as an almost redefining moment for modern, expansive (and expensive) extreme metal and the praise and adulation is deserved a thousand times over. AVE.
Sounds Like: Dimmu Borgir (yes, ok, but seriously), Nile, Belphegor, Hate
Standout Tracks: Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel, Messe Noire, O Satan O Father O Sun