Released in 2014, The Satanist is an album that will go down in history as one of the finest releases from the black metal world. Poland’s Behemoth did an incredible job of combining the fire and fury of the genre with very memorable tracks. The popularity and success of the album had many, including the band, questioning if it could ever be topped.
The 11th studio album of the band, I Loved You At Your Darkest is out now via Metal Blade Records.
After an intro that sees a children’s choir chanting away to add a religious motif early on, Behemoth show that they’re not lacking in passion as they kick into the crunching heaviness of Wolves OV Siberia. It’s a safe sounding track for the extreme metallers unlike God=Dog, a track that leans heavily on the bass, a darkened rhythm and passionate, almost desperate sounding vocals. Although the children choir adds a bit of cheese that we probably could have done without.
The middle portion of the album, starting with Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica has some of the strongest Behemoth songs to date. With a varying amount of fury, we get restrained Behemoth here with leanings towards a harder rock sound as much as the all out black metal assault we’re used too. There’s still a huge amount of ‘worry the religious establishment’ about these tracks but it’s doesn’t seem to be at the fore-front of Behemoth’s writing anymore.
Bartzabel is a strong shout for the best track on the album. From the opening thumping of the drums, Bartzabel brings the heaviness in a slower, ominous approach. Filled with dark atmosphere, the thickness of the guitars and contrasting vocals makes for a more unique sounding Behemoth track.
If Crucifixion Was Not Enough is a sign of Behemoth stepping away from their corpse-painted roots then Angelsvs XIII intro is as black metal as they come. Both tracks are different but not so much so that they feel out of place. This is a Behemoth with one eye on the future while not ignoring their past.
Look no further then Sabbath Mater for Behemoth throwing out the ultimate version of their harder rock sound even if it has Nergal’s howling vocals to give it some oomph. This is the kind of track that will most certainly divide fans. It’s a defiant track, the band saying this is us now, like it or bugger off.
Though there is a question of just how far Behemoth are willing to push it as shown in Havohej Pantocrator. A hypnotic, slower approach that flips over to a harsher black metal sound halfway through. While the switch isn’t jarring, it does make you wonder why. The transition isn’t the best either.
Rom 5:8 with its frantic guitar riffing and drum beat is as close to the likes of The Satanist as you’re going to get on I Loved You At Your Darkest. While We Are the Next 1000 Years wraps things up (excluding Coagvla and it’s short smashing of instruments and gothic tone) with dark atmospheric melody.
There is no disputing that this is a great album, a great Behemoth album. However, it’s clear that this is a transition album too. Behemoth have one foot in the future of their sound and one foot in the black metal past. While they nail both sides well most of the time, there is no ignoring that fact that the band’s unwillingness to go either direction hurts the overall quality.
Behemoth – I Loved You At Your Darkest Full Track Listing:
2. Wolves ov Siberia
3. God = Dog
4. Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica
6. If Crucifixion Was Not Enough…
7. Angelvs XIII
8. Sabbath Mater
9. Havohej Pantocrator
10. Rom 5:8
11. We Are the Next 1000 Years
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You can buy and stream I Loved You At Your Darkest via all major services and retailers now.
Behemoth - I Loved You At Your Darkest (Metal Blade Records)
The Final Score - 8/10