|Black Metal, Death Metal
Metal Blade Records
February 4th, 2014
Release length: 44:23
While Behemoth is known more for the hostile performances of late, The Satanist channels a more toned down Black Metal approach much of the time that is just as effective, if not more. “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” starts the release off with a dismal, trudging performance that is as abrasive as getting stuck in the most violent of wind storms in the middle of an Egyptian desert circa 3000 BC mid-ritual or sacrifice. Around three minutes in, the song picks up speed around the three minute mark, four seconds after a noticeable skip or studio alteration that isn’t quite as effective, but bridges to a sombre Melodic Black Metal closing that is surprisingly depressing, a touch that appears from time to time in subtle and obvious ways throughout the album. While this represents modern Behemoth well, “Ben Sahar” throws it back to the groups traditional Black Metal roots with a slower paced performance that is less aggressive, but rich in a dark atmosphere thanks to the guitars and keyboards.
“Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” is an infectious track with a great deal of energy all around. There are plenty of hooks to be found to the point where it sounds like your typical faster second wave offering, but then shifts nicely into sleek Melodic Death Metal that will have you hooked until a breakdown hits around three and a half minutes in. Given this song is cleared geared to making the pit happy at live shows, that slower minute long chunk is probably more effective on stage than it is here. Either way this paves the path for the uncompromising “Amen.” Right from the start you are hammered with blast beats and venomous fury in what is easily one of the fastest performances in Behemoth‘s career, intensified by the deep bass presence that brutalises you for the first half of the song. After that the music shifts to a subtle performance just shy of Depressive Black Metal, leaving you yearning to hear desperate wails in the distance or perhaps some additional wind effects to match the amount of misery the simple chords are giving off.
The only song that really doesn’t leave much of an impact is “Furor Divinus.” It has its share of blasting brutality that tries to capture the same kind of sand-swept atmosphere others carry. The louder twangs of the bass guitar are a nice touch to the catchy hostility, pushing a hint of desolation against an ominous booming sensation that continues to set in the further you go into the hostile performance. However, the amount of variety makes the song feel like it’s going somewhere, but just wanders between points aimlessly until finally giving up. It works well enough, but is a far cry from pretty much everything else on the release, even the rather out of place cut that is “The Satanist,” a largely melodic composition that may remind listeners of Deceased, especially in the slower, hook filled chorus. There is some distant cackling later, which marks the beginning transformation into a solid guitar solo and speed increase, though largely in the drums to push the closing a bit over-the-top.
There is one last thing to address about The Satanist, which is that it feels a lot more personal than any of the group’s prior albums. There are times where you can sense a good deal of emotion in the music that didn’t quite exist before. The most obvious of this would be with the track “In the Absence ov Light.” It starts off like your typical Behemoth performance with a helpless sensation to the music, but the shift to slower acoustics and a background saxophone behind an extensive audio sample of dialogue takes it out of a strictly professional band realm, feeling more like it might have been created based out of actual fear or depression. Yes, the latter seems like a subtle theme you can pick up on in some riffs throughout the release, but here it seems genuinely heartfelt to the point where it makes you look at The Satanist in an entirely different light. The same can be said for the ending of “O Father O Satan O Sun!” and how the slower approach and vocals come off as if Negal himself were pleading out of desperation in a manner that will have you fighting back tears by the end.
The Satanist definitely isn’t the most impressive album in Behemoth‘s library, but it definitely captures the spirit of the group, and in many ways feels like a far more personal experience thanks to the emotions that are buried in the music, or pushed right to the forefront. Maybe it’s me reading too much into the release, but after a couple spins, The Satanist sounds like something that either acts as a soliloquy of Nergals inner struggles and personal beliefs through his recent health issues, or an attempt to get over the impact going through it all had on him and move on with his life. If this wasn’t the intent, it would completely surprise me. There’s a lot more to The Satanist then what meets the eye, and it’s something long time fans can easily pick up on. So, while this may seem like your typical Behemoth recording, it’s actually the most honest of them all, leaving more to discover with each new spin and have you coming back more than to Demigod, Grom or any of the group’s previous offerings.
01. Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel – 4:26
02. Furor Divinus – 3:07
03. Messe Noire – 4:05
04. Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer – 5:35
05. Amen – 3:49
06. The Satanist – 5:34
07. Ben Sahar – 5:35
08. In the Absence ov Light – 4:59
09. O Father O Satan O Sun! – 7:14
|Initial Pressing Score: 9/10