By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)
Album: The Satanist
Release Date: 2/4/14
One sure way to ruffle a metalhead’s feathers would be to call a Black Metal band Death Metal, or visa versa. However, some acts have managed to successfully transcend the genres of extreme metal, and maintain a continuing sense of artistic integrity and admiration. And few have be able to do so quite as well as Poland’s Behemoth.
No strangers to controversy, Behemoth have brought their Black Metal themes and influences into Death Metal for their tenth LP, simply titled The Satanist. The Satanist comes five years after their last effort, the epic and genre-spanning Evangelion. Since then, the band underwent a series of unfortunate setbacks including lead singer Nergal’s diagnosis and treated for leukemia, as well as drummer Inferno undergoing appendix surgery as well. However, by 2013 the band reconvened to record one of the most devastating and apocalyptic albums in modern heavy metal.
The Satanist is a record that is thematic in tune with some of the ideals of modern Satanism; rejection of the idea of a god and that the individual is at the helm of their existence. Behemoth are no strangers to such themes, as throughout their career they have observed the ideas of both Paganism and the occult as primary sources of lyrical inspiration. Often times, their message has been misunderstand and they have been the target of several religious and pro-Christian protest groups, especially in their native Poland.
Controversy aside, The Satanist is a shining example of how diverse, innovative and thought-provoking extreme music can be. Beginning with the eerie opening track, “Sound Your Trumpets Gabriel,” a barrage of super heavy riffs swarm the listener like maggots to a corpse. “Furor Divinus” and “Messe Noire” continue the sonic brutality before the slow burning “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” descends into blast beats and grind riffs. Lyrically, the following tracks, “Amen” and “The Satanist” begin to ease off the brutality and offer a more introverted perspective. Finally, on the closing “O Father O Satan O Sun!” an almost bluesy guitar solo hits before a final tidal wave of smashing Death Metal riffs, like the last moment of tranquility before the violent storm begins it’s assault.
The Satanist is an overall solid record for two reasons; the first being that musically, it shows a band maturing gracefully without showing signs of slowing. The drive is still intact and although the sound is slightly more refined, it gives many wannabe American metal acts a run for their money. This is heavy done heavy! The second reason would be that thematically, The Satanist is in many ways both provocative and inspiring. It lifts lines from the Bible as well as Pagan literature and folklore, while also bringing several different philosophical ideas to the table. Overall, it’s an album worth listening to for its lyrical content alone, as much of Behemoth’s back catalog is as well.
All in all, The Satanist defies many notion of what extreme metal “should” be by breaking down stylistic barriers and doing so in an insightful manner. Whether it’s Death Metal, Black Metal, Blackened Death “ProgCore” or whatever you may fancy, this is METAL at its finest.