Out on September 16th, 2022 via Nuclear Blast, Opvs Contra Natvram is the new and 12th studio album from Polish hellraisers, Behemoth. Over 3 decades, the band has proven to be so much more than a mere black metal band and this new album is the personification of rebellion, individuality and unflinching self-expression.
Never afraid to try something new. Never afraid to challenge listeners and most importantly of all, never afraid to push themselves to new limits. Behemoth may never be able to top The Satanist as their ‘opus’ but with Opvs Contra Natvram, they’re certainly giving it a run for its money.
What we have here is Behemoth’s most cinematic album to date. Where the sense of grandness is on a scale not heard from this band to date. Where primordial black metal meets unrelenting fury and lavish elaboration. It’s an intense Behemoth release but an anthemic one, none the less. Few black metal bands can be called that, but Behemoth are in a league of their own.
Very ominous, there’s a palatable sense of danger to Post God Nirvana. The subtle atmospheric build, the marching beat, the shouted vocals, the turn towards dark folk ala Heilung and the easing into the following track, Malaria Vulgata. Where blackened heaviness reigns supreme and Behemoth spit fire and brimstone as though the devil inhabits their souls. It’s a call back to their more intense days.
The elaborate and experimental side of Behemoth raises its head on The Deathless Sun. Where the chorus is something all demonic creatures will enjoy roaring back to Behemoth loud enough to shake Heaven’s gates. Followed by the expansion of the aforementioned cinematic aspects on Ov My Herculean Exile. Where malice and scorn drips from every part of this track and the drums stand out strongly. Before Neo Spartacus turns out to be an unlikely call to arms, as only Behemoth can do.
Five tracks done, five to go and what an album it’s been so far. Any expectation of a dip in quality here and there is washed away with the guttural cacophony of blackened progressive metal that is Disinheritance. A chaotic example of how intense Behemoth can be when left unrestrained.
Though nothing heard so far can prepare a listener for Off to War! A blend of hyperactive heaviness, cinematic orchestration and an underlying intensity. It’s a passionate display from the Polish black metallers that slowly suffocates with its creeping darkness.
Behemoth are delivering absolute gold here and further proof comes in the form of the neck breaking Once Upon a Pale Horse. One of the most head-banging inducing tracks on the entire album. Again… that drumming is immense but watch out for the insanity of the guitar soloing near the end too.
It’s all about epic fury with Thy Becoming Eternal as Behemoth dig deep into the circles of hell to find ancient and long-forgotten delights. Before this incredible album finishes in style with Versus Christus. The track begins with a gothic piano melody and whispered vocals, a subtle touch of atmosphere enhancing the gloom which begins to grow as the pace increases. Then the guitars and drums arrive to play alongside the piano and the vocals rise in volume. Suddenly, it’s transformed into something beastly but incredibly memorable. Behemoth seemingly saving the best for very last as this track is one of the best things they have ever written.
Album after album, this band fail to disappoint. They continue to move forward while staying true to what has sustained them for 30+ years. Opvs Contra Natvram is a stunning showcase of everything great about this band and will be as revered as The Satanist once it’s unleashed upon the world.
Behemoth – Opvs Contra Natvram Full Track Listing:
1. Post God Nirvana
2. Malaria Vulgata
3. The Deathless Sun
4. Ov My Herculean Exile
5. Neo Spartacus
7. Off To War!
8. Once Upon A Pale Horse
9. Thy Becoming Eternal
10. Versus Christus
Behemoth - Opvs Contra Natvram (Nuclear Blast)
The Final Score - 9.5/10