The reign of Behemoth has begun once again – meaning the long await for the brand new Behemoth album, The Satanist, has come to an end. It has been about five years since the epic release of Evangelion, and the band has been through a ton between now and then. Vocalist/guitarist Adam "Nergal" Darski's struggle and recovery from leukemia hasn't stopped Behemoth from being productive, though, as the band has released a compilation album titled Abyssus Abyssum Invocat, and now a new full length.
The band released the music video for "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel," which really set the tone for the whole record. Behemoth has always been know for its ultra-controversial music videos that are always symbolic, artful and disturbing. As Rammstein is to sexuality, Behemoth is to violence and dread. I really have to highlight the video in this review because it feels essential to my overall feel on this record. The video shows everything from the eerie black and white cinematograhpy of wolves in the forest, to a sheep being sacrificed, to a girl who goes through what seems like a transformation. She vomits blood, she has thorns pierce her body, and she loses her hair which makes me think this video is inspired by what Nergal went through when he struggled with his illness. It's a very beautiful and powerful video and it's definitely going to be in my top 10 this year.
Behemoth had a lot to live up to when Evangelion came out, but let me assure you that The Satanist soon became one of my favourites from the band's discography after a couple of listens. So what does The Satanist have to offer? Well, I would have to start at the masterful musicianship within the band; every song feels like it was constructed from a concept that feels inspired. The record sounds dark – atmospheric at times – and had myself feeling overwhelmed with claustrophobia. The record sounds ancient with evil brooding under the tracks. Whether it be the crisp blast beats, the blackened riffage or the monstrous bellowing vocals, everything sounds so natural on the record. While Evangelion and The Apostasy had an epic feel, The Satanist is dark and ancient.
The Satanist shows the members of Behemoth embracing more of their black metal roots on songs like "Furor Divinus" and "Amen." Also, I would like to point out the straight up in-your-face guitar solos throughout the record – like in the self-titled track and "Ben Sahar." Behemoth also experiments with horn sections that are sprinkled throughout the record, acoustic guitar breaks and some spoken word. These little experiments really separate The Satanist from past releases while the band still stays true to its unique sound. You can still tell that this is a Behemoth record; the band is just trying out different concepts and sounds.
Instrumentation wise, everything shines together as one unit. That is one of the big aspects I've always praised Behemoth for: their musicianship. The bass is never left out of the mix and actually gives off some chilling grooves in the opening track, "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel." The guitars cover everything from blackened whirlwinds of riffs to doom-esque grooves. The drums are just so damn crisp and natural that they sound like they were recorded in a cathedral hall. The vocals are throat ripping, as Nergal basically commands them like a demon warlord to his fellow followers.
There are truly no complaints I have on this record. While it may take a few listens to get what Behemoth is putting out, the overall experience is nothing but rewarding. I already know that The Satanist will be a serious contender in my top albums of 2014.
For fans Of: Nile, Satyricon, Watain