We have been patiently waiting for almost five years for the next Behemoth album. Earlier in 2013, word came out that their new album was coming and anticipation began to rise even more. Then a few months ago the visually stunning and brutal video for the track “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” was released teasing us even more. After years of waiting, The Satanist is finally here! Now the question is was the album worth the wait? The answer is an emphatic hell yes! The record is the culmination of Behemoth’s entire twenty plus year career. It has that perfect mix of the themes of their early black metal years and their excellent death metal abilities. This one even adds in some great and perfectly understated avant-garde elements like orchestral instruments and a choir taking their ever evolving sound even further. Plus much like their last few albums, the grooves on this album are absolutely amazing. There are even varying types of grooves from the almost doom metal style of “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” to the faster death thrash grooves of “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer”. Above all of this, the writing, musicianship and overall execution really steal the show here.
For me Behemoth’s slightly slower paced stuff stands out a bit more, especially on the new record. I say slightly slower paced stuff and not slow paced because with the exception of the aforementioned “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel”, there is nothing slow about any of the tracks on The Satanist. I am merely separating the fast from the hyper fast. This is not to say that the pacing that borders on deathgrind is not good. It is actually downright excellent. Tracks like “Furor Divinus” and “Amen” really show off what great musicians Nergal, Orion, Inferno and Seth are. When you check out these songs, you will be asking yourself how a mortal can play music that fast while maintaining flawless technical precision. There are a couple of instances where these really fast blast beats and guitars are thrown onto the end of a song and it seems somewhat out of place. “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” and “The Satanist” are both excellent songs in their own right and really didn’t need this turbulent element tacked on at the end. With that said if the crazy speedy stuff is this good, the regular fast paced blackened death metal and death thrash style songs are beyond excellent. This slight notch down on the speed allows you to really get more into the depth of the song and hear literally everything that Behemoth has to offer.
The Satanist is near perfection from start to finish as there are literally no skipable songs to be found. This certainly makes it difficult to pick out the best songs, but I will attempt to give you some of the standouts. As most of us know “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” is amazing with an absolutely excellent and haunting arrangement. “Messe Noir” probably has the best mix of pacing on the album. All the sounds and speed meld together perfectly and nothing is out of place here. On top of that, the song contains one of the best long technical guitar solos I have heard in quite some time. “Ben Sahar” shows off some of Inferno’s best drum work in recent memory, especially on the double bass pedal. Once again we get a solid solo here. “In the Absence ov Light” is an amazingly well written straight forward death metal track with the added element of an acoustic, spoken word bridge that somehow fits perfectly.
Finally we get to the two best tracks that I cannot recommend enough. I tried to pick just one but they are equally good in their own right. “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” is an exceptionally catchy track that leans more toward death thrash. The guitar work here from Nergal and Seth is nothing short of superior. Orion also really gets a forum to show off his skills with a sick bass driven bridge. “O Father O Satan O Sun!” is where we really get to see a lot of the avant-garde elements complete with horns, cellos and choir chanting in the background. This is also a great death metal track with another catchy groove.
This is literally Behemoth’s best release yet and that’s saying something with how good their last album Evangelion was. The band continues to experiment and evolve without leaving their past sounds behind. I think I also forgot to mention that Nergal’s vocals are absolutely unbelievable on every single song. Usually when I review a record, it takes me multiple listens to find the stand out songs and elements. However with The Satanist, I was able to name my favorite tracks and rattle off all the reasons why after only one listen (obviously, I still gave it more spins before writing the review). This is truly a testament to how much time and effort the band put into creating and differentiating each track.
If I had one complaint, it would be my usual one. The album is just too damn short. C’mon guys you couldn’t have given us more than nine songs? The album really kicked into gear and then just ended somewhat abruptly. It left me wanting more. I think even just one or two more songs would have done the trick. However, it is so good that I probably would have been clamoring for more even if there were fifty tracks. I suppose it’s better for the band to put their blood, sweat and tears into nine tracks than it would be for them to mail it in and give us twelve songs.
All in all this is one amazing album that will be in my constant rotation for the foreseeable future. I can safely say that this will be in the top five of our best albums of 2014 at the end of the year. If our first two album reviews of 2014 are any indication of things to come, this is going to be another strong year for metal.