Release Date: Feb 4, 2014
Record label: Metal Blade
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
Even ignoring the dramatic real-life backdrop of Behemoth frontman Nergal's diagnosis and recovery from leukaemia, The Satanist amounts to an extraordinary statement of renewed intent from a band that already had the respect of the metal world. The Poles have long been among extreme metal's most effective exponents, but The Satanist is different somehow: smarter, sharper, imbued with an underlying sense of mortal disquiet and bulging at the seams with moments of pitch-black grandeur. Underground metal purists will be more than sated by the high-velocity assaults of Furor Divinus and Amen, but it is the arcane pomp and mid-paced muscularity of opener Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel, the hazily morbid In the Absence Ov Light and the fearsome title track that suggest Behemoth have the skills and integrity to mount an assault on the rock mainstream without any need to compromise.
You often hear accounts of people who have stared death in the face and lived to tell the tale, whether after freak accidents or life-threatening illnesses. These stories often speak of a new appreciation for what really counts in the life of that person. It’s as if coming close to the one thing that no one on this earth can explain and turning your back on it to carry on living removes the fear that exists within most of us regardless of our religious/non-religious beliefs.
" 'The Satanist' bristles with the best songs Behemoth have ever written." There may not be any atheists in foxholes, but there are Satanists, apparently. Behemoth mainman, Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski’s dance with death hasn’t skewed his (after)worldview towards God, Jesus and that lot. To the contrary, Darski’s battle with leukaemia appears to have coalesced his Satanic beliefs as well as provided his songwriter’s chops with a new lease.
Given that The Satanist is not only the first album by Polish firebrands Behemoth in five years but also their first since frontman Nergal was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, you might expect them to be restless at the start, to burst open in a characteristic tangle of extreme metal. But they begin slowly, a sinister riff cutting patiently through open air. The drums march rather than maraud, while the bass pads the pocket.
Ten albums into their career, Polish death metal stalwarts Behemoth might not have anything to prove, but that certainly isn't stopping them from trying, as evidenced by The Satanist. A vital, crushing monster of an album, it feels as though the band is digging deep here, tapping into hidden reserves of infernal power to deliver an album of profane and powerful sonic destruction. The album is disarming at first, with opening track "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel" lulling the listener into a trance with its plodding, doomy riffs before turning on a dime at the halfway point and opening up into a frenzied blast of fractured guitars and explosive blastbeats.
Review Summary: Behemoth ov old and newThere seem to be two voices within The Satanist. Aside from the aspects that at this point can labeled as “typical Behemoth”, there is another side that is not so content with following that path. It’s been a while since Behemoth sounded fresh; sounded like they really had some creative fire burning in the hearts.
Polish extreme metal band Behemoth, along with their tenth studio album The Satanist, are intimately tied to vocalist, guitarist and bandleader Nergal Darski's harrowing last few years. A diagnosis and treatment of leukemia, continuing legal issues stemming from an eventually dropped charge of "inciting religious hatred," alongside the stress of following up a widely celebrated album (2009's Evangelion) set the pressure to a boiling point.Instead of cowering, Behemoth have triumphantly returned with characteristic ugliness and chaos, though this is skillfully juxtaposed with a newfound delicacy. The Satanist undeniably fits in the Behemoth discography, with its occult-inspired, cacophonous brutality and Darski's primal howls.
By anyone's standards, Behemoth are an extraordinarily extreme proposition. 2009's astounding Evangelion paired wall-of-sound sonics with equally direct lyrical themes of anti-religious rebellion – a distinctly ironic take on a title that actually means "spreading the word of God" in Greek. It was a unique piece of expression, and despite Behemoth's uncompromising stance and, in the grand scheme of things, distinctly non-commercial sound, there seemed to be a new level of sheen to the band developing – an intangible aspect that facilitated a level of access to the mainstream that other similar bands simply could not replicate.