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Album Review: BEHEMOTH The Satanist

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We've been waiting patiently for five years since Behemoth dropped their 2009 blasphemy Evangelion. Obviously nobody could be angry about the wait given frontman, guitarist and main songwriter of the group Nergal's ongoing health issues with cancer, but man was there some speculation during the period after his recovery. Of course the main focus of fans' questions was this- how would the new music sound after such a life-changing experience? Fortunately the answer to that question is "the best damn thing Behemoth have done up to this point in their 23-year career."

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If there's one word to describe The Satanist, it's "ridiculous." Not ridiculous in the sense that it's over-the-top or silly, but ridiculous in the sense that it's so well written and performed that the band has simply blown their collective discography out of the water with this one. The Satanist is a culmination of their earlier black metal lyricisms and horror-inducing riffs, their mid-2000's blindingly-fast death metal, and their more recent grooviness and experimentation with additional instruments. Where a song like "Oro Pro Nobis Lucifer" or "Amen" might make you question if the band are machines programmed to play at 260+ BPM or humans with that capability, songs like "The Satanist" bring the mood right back down in a swirling veil of classic death metal grooviness sprinkled with some blast beats, horn sections and what sounds a lot like a Hammond B3 organ. Even the closer "O Father, O Satan, O Sun!" steps a little outside the normal Behemoth fare and incorporates distant choirs and sounds of pandemonium throughout the entire piece (as opposed to using them for an introductory effect as the band has done throughout Evangelion).

The Satanist is an incredible ascension from what the band have achieved in the past on a few levels, with production having a big say in the shining status this record has been recognized for across the board in reviews. It's a very cleanly mixed record where every little nuance and detail comes through clearly, right down to the background instruments that are merely providing a vehicle for the band to access a different type of heavy depending on the song. It helps the tones the band chose for each instrument sound very naturally huge minimally distorted, as it leaves a lot of room to breath and project a colossal sound without any of the clutter.

The Satanist should be on everyone's playlist throughout at least the rest of the year. Despite it being February, it's safe to say The Satanist will be one of my favorite records this year.

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