ALBUM REVIEW: Behemoth – ‘The Satanist’
Three years ago, the future of extreme metal band Behemoth looked bleak when their frontman, Nergal, was confronted with an arduous battle against leukemia. Earlier this month, the Polish band ended their five-year album hiatus following Nergal’s triumph over leukemia. The Satanist dropped on February 4, releasing an unprecedented hell-bent fury ascending the band into the upper echelons of metal. Many fans were skeptical that Nergal could replenish Behemoth after a musical drought that lasted half a decade. However, there is little doubt that The Satanist utterly obliterates all skepticism. Behemoth has been reborn through their 10th album, spawning into an ambitious entity more acutely evil than ever before.
The album begins with “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel,” steadily marching into a dark, sonic landscape and introducing a signature sound of medieval-like horns that are heard throughout the album. Tracks like “Furor Divinus,” “Amen,” and “Messe Noir” highlight Behemoth’s signature explosive and fast black metal sound, which will sound familiar to devout fans. “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” induces bone-chilling horror through its terrifying opening bars, leading to a barrage of perpetual, hypersonic double-kick bass drums beneath Nergal’s guttural roar. Songs like “The Satanist,” and “Ben Sahar” emphasize an ominous theme consistent with the collective whole of The Satanist. These display an eerily melodic opening as it progresses into a rhythmic black metal groove. “In the Absence Ov Light” paints a diverse musical piece that ranges from an assault of bloodcurdling growls, booming riffs and relentless drums, to a quiet and intimate acoustic guitar, as it backs a haunting spoken word passage by Nergal in his native language. “O Father O Satan O Sun!” closes the album in a climactic finish, featuring haunting choirs and a symphonic background led by a demonic guitar solo. Nergal closes the song in an apocalyptic epilogue, bidding a triumphant farewell.
The Satanist is an epic culmination of the band’s 23-year lifespan. The album features flawless production with attention to the smallest details. Behemoth have successfully explored an ambitious new sound while staying true to their demonic roots. Most importantly, the album serves as a touchstone for Nergal’s own personal accomplishments, in reflection to his perseverance amidst the face of death and his subsequent victory over leukemia. The Satanist is far more than a comeback album for Behemoth. It redefines them.