October 5th saw the mighty Behemoth release their 11th studio album, I Loved You at Your Darkest via Nuclear Blast records. Between their marketing teasers, 3 new music videos and regular Facebook updates, the metal world held its breath.
In 2014, Behemoth genuinely raised the game with the studio album The Satanist. It’s well documented now this album was written during the recovery and defeat of cancer. Apparently Adam Darski (Nergal) can not only see the silver lining of clouds but he can put them to full use. The Satanist of 2014 was heralded by many people as AOTY, I included (and I have the flag above my bed to prove it). It was filled with so much darkness that it leaked out, infecting the listener. A masterpiece for sure.
The next 4 years have been busy for Behemoth. Touring for The Satanist they recorded Messe Noire (The Satanist Live), they also wrote 12 new tracks and produced many new music videos. Let’s see if their new offering can give us what we now come to expect from the mighty Behemoth.
I Loved You at Your Darkest opens with ‘Solve’ an excellent introduction, using children’s choirs and a creeping guitar riff that is winding us up for unholy assault. The use of a children’s choir in more than one section of this album may seem quirky or gimmicky at first but I see it a little differently. I think what Behemoth wanted to get across is that the world is waking up – even the children know to call out Dog, I mean god…
From intro and transitioning into the second track ‘Wolves ov Siberia’ that’s exactly what we’re in for, unholy assault. Behemoth have lost none of their fire and are in fact ultimately able to spit out more variation in these songs through sheer skilful song writing. The gothic style choirs and climax of ‘Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica’ for instance, trumpets creeping in and bringing us the end, it’s all so bittersweet cruel. It’s song writing heaven – sorry Nergal.
Familiarities are abound in this album between the tracks. I hear a repeating guitar motif, not too overplayed but instead masterfully used to create a biding. Between ‘Solve’ ‘Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica’ and ‘Bartzabel’ and ‘Sabbath Mater’ this is cohesive glue. Even appearing in ‘Havohej Pantocrator’ it is the album…
Nergal has offered us more variation in his vocals this time around. Throughout the album they’re keenly spat out as usual but layered, faded in and out and backed up in huge variation and more often than past releases. Lyrically, there’s little changed and that’s a good thing. Who’d want that from these guys?
Exiting this whirlwind of Blackened Death Metal with ‘Coagvla’ in a celebratory and memorable style; fast guitar arpeggio, ominous climatic trumpets and a very classical bombast to the end – it seems like the best way to go out. Maybe one day we will see Behemoth on stage with the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra? Like a limited few bands before them, Behemoth are now so good at song writing that they deserve a space beside the word most renowned.
Long-time fans will not be disappointed but new fans dipping into their back catalogue may be surprised. Final words – This is 12 tracks of pure raging perfection in diabolica that will be permanently in my track lists. All hail Behemoth!