Artist: Behemoth (http://www.behemoth.pl/)
Release Date: January 25th, 2005
Recommended Tracks: Sculpting The Throne Ov Set, Demigod, Nephilim Rising, XUL, The Reign Ov Shemu-hor
Poland has done a nice job lately gaining a reputation for something other than their countrymen being the butt of numerous jokes about how stupid they are. Today Poland is producing some of the finest music the extreme metal world has to offer - bands like Vader, Decapitated, and Behemoth are among the most dominant names in the death metal scene, and all call the wintry confines of Poland their home. In 2004 both Decapitated and Vader put out outstanding albums that both received a lot of critical praise, and Behemoth has fired the first Polish bullet of 2005 with Demigod, a brutal slab of cold, hard death unrelenting from start to finish that will have you praying to God or Demigod or whoever for more when it's over.
Behemoth's career path has seen them gone from KVLT severely underproduced near-unlistenable black metal band to KVLT crystal clear sounding incredibly listenable death metal band in the span of 15+ years of hard work and dedication to their music. Though they maintain some semblance of their original black metal roots by donning corpsepaint for live shows and replacing all words with an F in them to a V (note the spellings in the recommended tracks above), Behemoth's music is a blend of modern hyperfast brutal death metal tinged with elements of classic black here and there, similar to what Zyklon and Golem are doing these days. All these bands have their roots with black metal bands, and their music often echoes the cold, harsh sentiments of black metal bands past in their content, but their sound these days is pure 100% death metal speed and brutality.
All throughout the album you'll notice bits and piece of things other bands have done, but by the end of the song you've been pounded in the ears long enough to know that every track is 100% Behemoth. A few songs have Nile-like acoustic instrumental leads or horns blaring as if some Egyptian pharaoh is being presented a harem of lusty slave girls (Nile guitarist Karl Sanders even throws down a guest solo on track 8, the 3-minute hyperblast entitled "XUL"). A few songs have Morbid Angel-like sludgy breakdowns on top of some furious double bass pounding. At times you'll be slightly disappointed when they stick too long with something derivative of other bands (especially during the songs in the middle of the album), but each song packs enough of a behemothian blast to satisfy you whether you think you've heard it before or not. When the band decides to really focus all their fury into a breakdown it sounds like world war 3 caught on disc - the drums sound more like bludgeoning war hammers than anything human, the riffing is evil and blasphemously heavy, and Nergal's vocals sound like a deranged army seargeant barking out orders to kill everyone and everything and leave nothing behind but ashes.
Although this isn't much of a step forward from 2003's brilliant Zos Kia Cultus (which in my opinion is one of the top death metal albums of all time), Demigod is more like a follow up than any grand evolution in sound or art. Pretty much every song on this album sounds just like it could have been on ZKC, which is a good thing if you thought ZKC was a great album like I did, but if you're expecting a next step in their sound as has happened with each of their previous releases you're gonna be disappointed. The one exception is the stunning closing anthem "The Reign Ov Shemu-Hor", an 8-minute opus that sounds something like an army of ancient Roman centurions heralding their arrival before pillaging a town and leaving a trail of death in their wake. The epic feel of the intro, with its movie score-like combination of daethmarch drums and keyboards slowly coming into focus, immediately gives way to a rumbling, roaring spectacle of death metal mastery, waging war on your eardrums and ultimately coming out victorious. This is probably Behemoth's most ambitious song to date, and it sounds excellent.
Remember the old saying "What does an 800 pound gorilla do? Anything it wants."? Well in metal terms Behemoth remain true to their namesake and that saying as well, as this is a giant beast of an album prepared to grasp the death metal scene in its monstrous claws and toy with it for a while before swatting its head off. Hopefully you caught their blistering performance here in Atlanta with Suffocation in January, if not you definitely need to go check them out in April when they roll back into town, if for no other reason than to watch one of the best live drummers currently playing, Inferno, as he pounds the skins with inhuman skill. Between this and Dark Tranquillity's new album already coming out so soon (and on the same day no less), 2005 is shaping up to be one hell of a year already for all genres in the metal world.
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Artist: Behemoth (http://www.behemoth.pl/)