Behemoth – The Satanist (2014)

The 10th release from Poland’s Behemoth is the first since frontman Nergal’s leukemia diagnosis in August of 2010. The Satanist is also the follow-up to the acclaimed 2009 album Evangelion, but this is no attempt at besting past work.

Evangelion was a very important record to us, and yes, it was very successful too, but in making The Satanist it wasn’t a point of beating that,” Nergal says. “The point was to do what was organic, and make a natural and honest and sincere album, and that’s it.”

Within the first few minutes of The Satanist, which rumbles to life with a menacing riff and trudging drums, it’s clear that Nergal’s honesty is intact and the obscene, spellbinding spit in the face of all that’s holy is splendidly present. As guitarist Seth, bassist Orion and drummer Inferno fold into the tune and plunge it beneath the crusted earth, it’s clear Behemoth is ready for what awaits on the other side.

Uncertainty is a common theme on The Satanist, even if it is wedged among some thick rhetoric. The music tells the story more than anything, with the blackened metal fury of the band careening whichever way it wants.

Sometimes, like with “In the Absence ov Light,” that means falling away entirely for a spoken word portion from Witold Gombrowicz that’s accompanied by an unlit saxophone and acoustic guitar. And sometimes that means opening up the doors for a manic solo on “Amen” and then settling into what almost feels like a groove.

There’s also “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” and its triumphant opening. Chants set the stage and a pick slide once again drops the song into sweltering possibility, with Nergal roaring and stomping around.
The Satanist is a stunning and forceful return for Behemoth, the band that most certainly needed to return. Nergal, now in full recovery, has managed rebirth and the rest of the gathering is more than game to push the buttons and start some fires.

Through it all, the disc has the feeling of sincerity. It could go anywhere — and it often does. It careens and plummets through the gloom and grime, but all the while Behemoth are clear masters of their own sonic destiny. “Hail my return,” indeed.

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Jordan Richardson

Jordan Richardson is a Canadian freelance writer and ne'er-do-well. He also contributes to his own Canadian Cinephile and Canadian Audiophile websites. Contact Something Else! Reviews at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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