The world has been waiting patiently for five years since Behemoth dropped their last album, Evangelion, in 2009. Obviously, nobody could be angry about the wait, considering that frontman, guitarist and main songwriter of the group Nergal’s ongoing health issues and battle with cancer. Understandably, there was quite a bit of speculation among fans after Nergal’s recovery – of course the main focus of the fans’ questions being “how will the new music sound after such a dramatic and life-changing experience?” The answer to that question is, “possibly the best piece of work Behemoth have created up to this point in their 23 years as a band.”
The Satanist opens with ‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’, with a guitar riff that has a very strong classic metal vibe to it – but before long, the track descends into a cacophony of aural madness, with blast beats and spine-chilling backing vocals from a choir. ‘Furor Divinus’ takes things up a notch, immediately dropping into immense drumming with lightning fast double bass and guitar work showing Behemoth’s trademark blackened death metal sound. The record’s fourth track, ‘Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer’, is one of the most instrumentally interesting tracks to me – a mid-tempo, melodic riff serving as an intro which slowly builds up to even more musical chaos and disarray. ‘Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer’ also has the most noticeably memorable vocal ‘hook’ on the record, making this one of the tracks that really stands out on the first few listens through the album. The other track that stands out the most to me is the album’s title track, which marks the point in the record where the band started being more experimental with songwriting. ‘The Satanist’ includes an almost “traditional” guitar solo and song structure – remaining relatively composed throughout most of the track, before ending with an explosive and brutal burst of energy from the entire band, doubled with a horn section – giving a truly epic close to the title track.
All lyrics on The Satanist were written by Nergal, apart from the tracks ‘Messe Noire’, ‘Amen’ and ‘O Father O Satan O Sun!’, which Nergal co-wrote with Krzysztof Azarewicz. Nergal tends to fall into a niche with his vocals, as they sound demonic and guttural, whilst retaining enough clarity to be able to understand what he’s actually saying, which can’t be said for many of his contemporaries. Nergal’s vocal performance on The Satanist is virtually flawless from beginning to end, with his lyrical subject matter forming into a constant torrent of pure hatred and aggression. Religious imagery, as the album’s title would suggest, is used quite extensively throughout Nergal’s lyrics to invoke strong emotions from the listener.
As a somewhat “casual” fan of black metal and blackened death metal, I have found that Behemoth have grown to become one of my favourite bands in the genre musically – though I may not always relate to or appreciate the lyrical content. This is a personal issue to me and doesn’t reflect on the band, though – the lyrics are expertly written and have the impact of invoking strong emotions within the listener, which is a quality that metal lyrics should definitely always have.
The Satanist is a phenomenal improvement from what the band have achieved with previous records in the past, with production being one of the major aspects gaining this record critical acclaim across the board. With the record’s immaculate and flawless mixing and production, even the most subtle nuances sit amongst the mix with tremendous clarity, even right down to the background instruments which merely provide a different atmosphere for the band to achieve different sounds between tracks. This helps form the tones the band wanted to create within each individual track, establishing a monumental sound without any of the messy clutter you can sometimes get with tracks where a lot of instruments are used.
Every now and then, a rare album comes along which is virtually flawless and remains timeless for years to come – The Satanist is one of those albums. The album is an essential for every metal fan’s collection throughout at least the rest of 2014. Despite it only being February, it’s safe to say that The Satanist will be one of the best – and one of my favourite – albums of the year.1 person likes this