Sound — 9
Behemoth has been around since the early '90s and somewhere along the line they jumped from anonymity to cult-celebrity in the world of metal. They've remained one of the best, if not THE BEST, bands in their specific sub-genre of blackened death metal. All of this seemed to be coming to an end as Nergal was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, but a bone marrow transplant seemed to turn everything around and Nergal began recovering. "The Satanist" is the first release from the band since that time, being their 10th studio album. The album contains 9 tracks and clocks in at just under 45 minutes. The album is being released by Metal Blade Records in the US, and Nuclear Blast in Europe.
The album opens up with the track "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel," with a guitar riff in the intro that has a very classic metal feel to it but quickly turns into something else entirely when the vocals come in. "Furor Divinus" opens up with a guitar melody and some serious double bass pedal going on with the drums, and builds into a slow tempo groove-heavy creepy-as-hell masterpiece. "Messe Noire" opens up doing some interesting things with near-atonality in the riff and a vocal assault that carries the song. "Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer" is one of the most interesting tracks to me, instrumentally, and probably has the strongest vocal "hook" to be found on the album. "Amen" is next up, and this track is balls-to-the-wall from beginning to the end. Next up is the title track, "The Satanist," which is where the album starts getting pretty experimental - this track actually includes an almost traditional guitar solo and utilizes volume and space dynamics in the song unlike what I'm used to hearing from Behemoth. "Ben Sahar" is pretty much a standard heavy track from the band except for a little more use of "atmospheric" negative space in the music. "In the Absence ov Light" is next which starts out pummeling you in the face, both musically and lyrically - but then what is this but a long acoustic and saxophone interlude with a vocal monologue - this isn't the Behemoth you're used to. The album closes out with the track "O Father O Satan O Sun!," which contains in the single track some of the best atmospheric stuff going on in the album as well as the most hook-laden passages I've ever heard from Behemoth. (You gotta give me a little slack with the way I'm using the word "hook" in this review - definitely no "pop" hooks, but in the world of extreme metal there is a lot of hooks on this album.)
Lyrics — 8
All the lyrics on the album were written by Nergal, except "Messe Noire," "Amen," and "O Father O Satan O Sun!" which Nergal co-wrote with Krzysztof Azarewicz. Nergal fits into a really good niche with his vocals, as they sound really wicked and guttural without crossingthe line into campy, which happens with a lot of his contemporaries (to my ears). His vocal performance is pretty much flawless from beginning to end. What to say about the lyrics? These lyrics are seriously all-out aggression and fury. The album starts out with the line "I saw the virgin's c-nt spawning forth the snake" and never backs down. Here is another example of the lyrics, taken from the track "Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer": "Scholar of the unlight/ Great volcano of excrement/ Rippling eager to erupt/ Reconstellate the firmament/ Behold the great accuser/ A megalinga of throbbing zeal/ Raptor yearning to pierce/ To rape the seventh seal/ Destroyer of cosmos/ Implore the ungod/ Implode the sun/ There is none wronging the serpent's cult/ Untouched and ignored/ With the serpent's might/ And the trumpets blow/ In the shadow of the horns."
Overall Impression — 9
As a "casual fan" of blackened death metal, death metal and deathcore I have found Behemoth to be one of my favorite bands in the genre, musically, though I don't always appreciate the lyrical content. I have to give them credit, though, my problems with the lyrics are personal to me as they are well-written and definitely have the impact that metal lyrics SHOULD have. Nergal is a beast on vocals and guitar, and "The Satanist" is a good example of why he's such a prominent figure in his genre. What stands out on this album above, or at least separately from, their other releases is the use of negative space in the music as well as a general feeling of experimentation. My favorite tracks from the album would have to be "Furor Divinus" and the title track, "The Satanist." There are a lot of other great songs on the album and fans of Behemoth or the blackened death metal genre will not be disappointed.