Behemoth – The Satanist | Review

I shouldn't have to waste time going over the events surrounding Behemoth frontman Adam “Nergal” Darski but I will anyway. Briefly. Between 2009's Evangelion and new album The Satanist (Nuclear Blast in EU, Metal Blade in North America), Nergal fought and won a battle against leukemia. And he has celebrated by crafting an album that spits in the face of weakness. Behemoth's 10th album seethes with the kind of raw power (with top notch production) we've come to expect but it's not without a couple surprises. Opener “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” rallies the masses in classic Behemoth fashion. Some plodding militance crashes with the supreme reign of chaos and lightning fast everything. Nergal calls for attention like only he can. His voice is infinitely commanding. Throughout the album he puts himself on display in a totally natural way. Instead of simply roaring, there are subtleties and emotional cracks appear in his corpsepainted facade. His berated throat fans the flames that burn eternal in Hell, scorching The Satanist's unbelievers.

Nergal is joined on the guitars by Seth. The pair of six-stringed evangelists leave no riff unconverted, ripping and shredding their way through the candlelit darkness with unrepentant speed and devastating solos. Not that that wasn't expected. What was unexpected in a way is how Behemoth rein in their headlong battle with more mid-paced pounding accented by atmospherics of the vocal, brass, string and melodic varieties. Their electric weapons of enslavement even give way to (gasp!) acoustics and spoken words on “In the Absence ov Light”. Never fear. Total obliteration follows within the track.

The rhythm section of Orion and Inferno, bass and drums respectively, really shine on The Satanist. The deep, growling bass ploughs through the mix throughout, enhancing the album's overall menace, at times even becoming the dominant force (“Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer”). His rhythmic partner blows the doors off the cathedral with an absolutely stellar performance. Inferno really outdoes himself with spectacular speed but also with measured thunder, snappy fills and a knack for adapting the castigation without a hint of hesitation to fit the tone and flow of the tracks.

While this is Behemoth doing what Behemoth does, they're now doing it better than ever. However, two tracks stand out in particular. The title track is truly epic. Orion's bass is all over it. Choral chants rise and fall within mid-paced movements. It's loaded with ambience and power dominated by Nergal's desperate, impassioned vocals. Closer “O Father O Satan O Sun!” breaks from the mold as well. It barely rises above a gallop at times, letting the listener down easy after the frantic previous tracks. Vocal harmonies lend a cinematic air. There's groove (Orion again) and atmosphere to go along with undead solos and a sort of creepiness. It's an amazing track and easily the album's best.

The track embodies the blood and guts, the life-giving force that permeates this passionate album; that which drips from The Satanist's every pore: devotion. Devotion to the sound, to the aesthetic. Devotion to Behemoth and everything they've worked for and stood for. Devotion to life. Because Satanism isn't about death, it's about life.

Matt Hinch

Band info:
Label info:

Matt Hinch lives an unassuming life on the backroads outside Forest Mills, Ontario, Canada. He packs in as much metal as he possible can amid factory work, raising three daughters with his wife and working the land. In addition to Scratch the Surface Matt also writes for Hellbound, Ghost Cult Magazine, About Heavy Metal and his own blog, Kingdom of Noise.
Keep up with him on Twitter @KingdomofNoise.