01. Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel
02. Furor Divinus
03. Messe Noire
04. Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
06. The Satanist
07. Ben Sahar
08. In the Absence ov Light
09. O Father O Satan O Sun!
The Satanist is probably one of the most anticipated records of 2014. Polish blackened death metal legends Behemoth have been out of commission for a while due to singer/guitarist Adam Nergal Darski’s battle with leukemia, but now they’re back in full swing after almost five years without new material. The Satanist is their tenth studio album, and it sees them both return to their roots and explore new avenues, and it shows that, cancer be damned, they’ve still got it.
Even though they originated as a black metal band, Behemoth have been going further and further down the road to death metal ever since their fourth album Satanica. The Satanist sees the band taking a step back and trying to see it all in perspectives. The songs here are more nuanced than their previous works, with more layers, trumpets, and more atmosphere in general. There are even clean vocals on the album’s finale, ‘O Father O Satan O Sun!’. The black metal element to their sound is more prevalent, and the band sounds a lot more raw and reckless as a result of this. It feels like Nergal took all his bottled up anger and pain from his battle with cancer and poured it all into audio form. His vocals sound more pained, harsher, and the riffing is more pensive. It’s easy to tell that this album is the band’s most personal work to date.
The band sounding immense is no accident. The album was produced by the band themselves, Wojtek and Slawek Wieslawscy, and the legendary Daniel Bergstrand. There is a fullness to the sound that makes listening to it very satisfying. The drum production is great, with every hit, especially of the toms, ringing just the right way. Interestingly both for the band and their genre, the bass is very clearly audible and it adds much needed depth to the soundscape. The vocal production also differs from the previous work of the band. Instead of overly layered vocals, this time there’s only one vocal track most of the time. This makes the emotion in Nergal’s voice a lot more apparent, and gives the songs a lot of character. The extra elements like brass, acoustic guitars and vocal chants sit just right in the mix, not too overpowering but not irrelevantly low.
The songs themselves are an interesting bunch as well. The album has a great mix of death metal, black metal and slow pensive tracks. Evangelion and Demigod probably have more extreme death metal moments, but The Satanist does not disappoint either. The more atmospheric tracks like ‘Messe Noire’ and ‘O Father O Satan O Sun!’ provide contrast to the heavier tracks. In terms of overall texture, this album definitely leans more towards the blackened side of blackened death metal. The typical Behemoth mannerisms are all there, and fans of the older material will be happy to recognize elements from older albums being re-emphasized. There are definitely a lot of hooks in the songs like the band’s mid-era works. This is also helped by the fact that the more moody parts of songs leading into straight up tremolo picking and blast beating, and vice versa. The juxtaposition of the two elements of Behemoth’s skillset make songs be more rewarding to listen to as a whole.
In the end, The Satanist is an extremely well-crafted album and a surprising departure for a band that is 10 albums into their career. There was no doubt that the band would recover after the hardships they’ve endured and produce an excellent album; but they’ve gone above and beyond that. The Satanist is both a return to form and much more, showing a side of the band that is a lot more sincere and personal. Even grizzled fans of the band who think that they can’t be surprised by them anymore will find something new here. The Satanist is a stellar album.
Behemoth – The Satanist gets…