Pick Your Rock and Metal

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cacophony of creative chaos from Behemoth on monster album 'The Satanist'

WHEN the term Extreme Metal is bandied about one band's name always springs to mind - Behemoth.And despite various tribulations, not least Nergal's battle with leukaemia, they have emerged with quite simply one of the best examples of the genre in a tremendous new album.

The Satanist is the band's tenth album, and it is a beast of a platter - filled with the brutality of death metal and the complexity of black metal; a brilliant concoction of the essence of Behemoth.

More measured and mature in this case does not mean a mellowing in the Behemoth vision. The ominous opener, Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel bristles with evil intent, Nergal growling as Inferno pounds as Orion (bass) and Seth (guitar) weave dark spells.

Indeed it is Inferno that is an anchor amidst the cacophony of creative chaos throughout the album.

In the fires of creation Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer is a remarkable testament to the blackened metal that Behemoth have produced.

Title track The Satanist is a menacing ode to the dark side, but Nergal is clear when he says that each fan can take what they wish from his metaphors of evil - but is the literary nature of such dark imagingings pretentious?

"To me it's not pretentious at all," said Nergal. "It's very straight up, very sincere and a devastating conquering statement. There's no compromise or bullshit or gimmicks.

"What I love about it is that it just speaks for itself. On one hand it's a very black and white title: 'The Satanist; is like a fucking nail through the hand of Jesus Christ, period. No more, no less. But then again as with everything else you put a hundred people together and ask them what the name 'The Satanist means t them and you're going to hear a hundred different opinions which thay can discuss and fight over."

For a tenth album from the Polish quaret it bristles with creativity, with all parts knitted together, no less than on Beh Sahar. But what does it all mean?

"There’s a lot of symbolism and reflections and impressions in there, and it’s using millions of metaphors to express a certain very sinister and very captivating atmosphere, but there are no answers," said Nergal People always like to have a deeper insight into what we do, but that’s not what we want to give with this record.

"The way I see it is that between us we can make a huge fucking pyre and set the world on fire, but what we’re doing is just giving you the matches, giving you the spark, what you want to do with it is up to you. Personally, if I sat down with the lyrics in front of me I too would probably come up with a lot of different interpretations and concepts, it’s a never ending process, and that’s exciting to me.”

To emerge with such a tremendous album after Nergal's illness is a statement of the band's unity and purpose, but the future was in doubt for a long time as the front man fought leukaemia.

With the search for a bone marrow donor ultimately successful Nergal underwent a transplant, leaving the hospital after six months and beginning down the long road to rehabilitation.

“I knew I was pretty much fucked and there was a battle to be won, and I had no fucking idea if it was going to take six months or twelve months or maybe four years, because with cancer you never know," he said.  

"I learned from being in the hospital that there are things in life that you can control and things that you can’t control. The sooner you realize which is which it’s going to make your life so much easier, and since then I started to «focus on the right things. I could be determined, I could have discipline, I could have faith, but everything else is not under my control, and it really was a case of just crossing fingers for the best possible outcome. I was fortunate enough that that recovery period was relatively fast, and that I was really strong and very determined to get back into shape made a real difference.” 

What exactly Behemoth have achieved on The Satanist is weirdly life affirming for a band with such dark intent. The playing is peerless, the mood black and the lyrics powerful: in the context of what can be seen as at times jaded and hackneyed scene Behemoth have achieved a remarkable album.

They are Behemoth and they are from the Pagan Vastlands, and for that we should be thankful.

The Satanist is released on Nuclear Blast on January 31st.

Additional editorial input on this review from Zakk T. 

No comments: