“The Satanist” is the tenth album by Polish Black/Death metal legends Behemoth, and the first since Vocalist/Guitarist Nergal’s recovery from his battle with leukaemia. In the wake of this immense struggle, they have come back with a real point to prove, and as such they have created their most mature, complete and ambitious album to date – this is the first truly great metal album of 2014, and is possibly the best album Behemoth have ever made. It’s epic in scope, brutally heavy, atmospheric and varied in equal measure.
Nergal’s powerful roar is in full force throughout the album, giving one of the most powerful and vicious performances in extreme metal of recent years, particularly on “Messe Noir”, where he roars and snarls his way throughout in the most evil of manners, fitting the satanic lyrics perfectly. His personal struggles over the last few years have really injected him with a huge passion and energy which shines through on every facet of his performance, from his voice, to his guitar work and incredible lyrics.
The album is filled with absolutely crushing riffs, with a lot of variety, with “Amen” taking inspiration from the brutal fury of Marduk, while “Furor Divinis” has a cold and frosty wall of noise style reminiscent of early Mayhem, and “Ben Sahar” has a slower, chugging opening riff demanding you to bang your head.There’s also melody to be matched with the fury, with “Ora Pro Nobis” having catchy epic sounding riffs, in a style similar to Austria’s Belphegor. The lead guitar work throughout the album is also incredible, with blistering solos, especially the epic sounding one from “Messe Noir” which is simply perfect. With all these influences they create a sound entirely their own, with sporadic symphonic sections adding to the drama of the album, especially on the epic opener “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel”, a song with fantastic imagery and drama, a true evil and plodding masterpiece, with slower crushing riffs. “Amen” is by far the heaviest track, with blistering riffs, an unrelenting blastbeat fury, and a snappy gnarly bass tone, its a perfectly brutal and unrelenting piece of satanic fury.
The lyrics are also fantastic throughout the album. As the title would suggest, the album is based around Satanism, which is something of a cliché when it comes to extreme metal, but Behemoth write about it excellently, with intelligent, thoughtful lyrics. The booklet in the album has descriptions of the songs, and the band reference writers such as Milton, Nietzsche, Witold Gombrowicz and more. The band also claims that the album is titled “The Satanist” as it deals with the human elements of Satanism, the way it affects and manifests itself within us. The concept of the album is definitely intriguing and intelligently written. Not just going for shock value and an attempt at an evil aesthetic like lots of other bands before them, they really have an excellent approach to the subject here.
This approach is at its best on the closer, “O Father O Satan O Sun!” with the song being one of the best tributes to Satan in metal’s history which really says a lot. The imagery is just incredibly powerful and evil, and its a perfect track to close an incredible album. This segment from it is particularly powerful when matched with Nergal’s passionate roar:
Let the children come to Thee
Behold the Morning Star
Shine thru me
Come forth in war
Come forth in peace”
The CD also comes with a bonus DVD, containing a fantastic concert “Live Barbarosa” filmed in Russia, as well as a thirty minute documentary, with Nergal’s thoughts on the concepts behind “The Satanist”. The booklet is also filled with descriptions of each song and the themes behind it, as well as the lyrics, it is a really complete package.
This isn’t just another blackened death metal album, here Behemoth have really delivered an intense work, filled with fantastic music and imagery. This is their most mature and complete album to date, and is sure to be one of the metal albums of the year, if not the decade. It’s an absolute masterpiece of extreme metal, and mixes bludgeoning heaviness with intelligent lyrics and musical nuance that goes far beyond their peers, and cements their place as one of the most important bands in contemporary extreme metal. Every track is just brilliant, there’s no room for any filler.With over twenty years of recording history and ten albums its really incredible that they can still release an album so sincere, breathtaking and monumental, “The Satanist” is simply a real behemoth of an album (sorry!)
The band’s European tour with Cradle of Filth starts this Friday, be sure not to miss it!
Listen to “Blow your trumpets Gabriel”: