Behemoth – I Loved You At Your Darkest
Released: October 5th, 2018
Adam “Nergal” Darski // Guitar & Lead Vocals
Zbigniew “Inferno” Promiński // Drums
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski // Bass & Backing Vocals
It is truly incredible, the journey that Polish extreme metal veterans Behemoth have been on for the past two decades; one that exhibits the ardent passion for their art, their dedication to the metal scene, their philosophy on life in general and the numerous hurdles they have crossed to obtain the success and recognition they rightly deserve today, at the forefront of the extreme metal scene. It’s no secret how much I love this band and I will definitely use this opportunity to say once again, that they are unmatched at what they do. Their dedication to defying social constructs, and any sort of label has always been one of their strong points, and this album confirms their stance on it. Behemoth is seen in a new light (in the dark) with their latest album I Loved You At Your Darkest an absolutely powerful and significant part of their journey.
ILYATD begins with the short yet intensely powerful “Solve”, a track that brings forth the innocence of children in the form of a choir and the soothing yet significantly disturbing sounds of an organ. Both provide an equally intense and eerie atmosphere, thereby setting the tone and mood for the rest of the record. As the children recite in choral yells of “I shall not forgive”, chills start crawling down your spine as does the haunting darkness that you would expect on a Behemoth album. These persist until a classic Behemoth riff enters and immediately welcomes you into the dark, enchanting abyss you’re about to be consumed by. As this track fades out, it leads into the thunderous sounds of “Wolves of Siberia”, Nergal’s vocals spewing forth an undeniable fierceness. It’s slight symphonic undertones and absolutely maddening riffs and blasts will quite frankly smack you straight in the face for lack of a better phrase, before one of my favourite moments at around the 1.32 mark comes in, one that I like to call your perfect build-up-into-a-shitstorm-section. Inferno’s phenomenal drumming, powers the rest of this track with a quick little feature of a wolf howl in between. There is no doubt that this track perfectly encapsulates the true essence of who Behemoth are and their signature sound.
Following this comes the first single released off the album, the one that sparked so much enjoyable heated debate and talk, but a track that showcases the sheer depth at which Behemoth enter when composing and writing music. “God = Dog” comes in with a captivating into and then a barrage of unrelenting riffs and blast beats that definitely remind you of all your favourite Behemoth moments. There’s so much that I want to say about this track – it makes you feel so uneasy but is also eerily comforting with its magnificent Gregorian chants, rhythmic sections and the return of the children’s choir from the intro track. A very cool solo comes in towards the end and is polished off oh-so-perfectly with Nergal leading the children in a hectic, satisfyingly blasphemous series of yells. The sinister nature of this video brings out the lyrics of this groove-laden track as well as the underlying meaning behind it, once again reflecting the philosophies Behemoth stand for.
“Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica” is slower (so to speak) intro leads into a similar soundscape as the previous track and maintains a pulsating riff throughout, one that also brings in that hint of a different vibe for something created by Behemoth. And then it appears – another one of my favourite moments on the album that exhibits just how intricate and amazing the artistry of these Polish metallers is. The melodically driven chants which somehow define the song, showcase Nergal’s vocal abilities and to me, just how much respect he has for an ancient very religious style of music consolidating it’s importance but still ensuring the extremity of a Behemoth track. Another cool aspect is the band’s love for rock has certainly had an even greater influence on this album and that can be heard in a few cheeky sections across the length of the album. Towards the end of the track is a beautiful acoustic-driven outro that also is very reminiscent of the end of “Blow Your Trumpets, Gabriel” for some reason. The next track “Bartzabel” is pure genius – that is all. Allowing for a moment of breath and processing, I can picture this being that moment in Behemoth’s set live where the band stands unnervingly still, staring into the distance with the sound of the tribal drums in the background – and then it kicks in. I honestly don’t think I have the words to describe it, but this emotional and dark track is what marks a new chapter in this band’s story. It is ingenious how beautifully crafted, simple and powerful this track, the lyrics, the harmonies and just proof of Behemoth entering a new phase in their journey.
While the previous song serves as a captivating, rock-influenced melodic interlude, “If Crucifixion Was Not Enough” steps back neck deep into the realms of black metal, but with a more slow-tempo catchy, groove highlighting every member, and the lyrical content as well as the sludgey outro while “Angelvs XIII” also delivers a series of relentless, breakneck speed riffs. The intro is bloody brilliant, as is the rest of the track which crushes hard and once again, boasting Nergal’s vocal range. What amazes me to no end every time I listen to a Behemoth album is how powerful their music is and their ability to convey their views through it. As much as this band is against Christianity, they know plenty about it and that to me is the mark of a group of evolved souls. It’s hard to articulate exactly what I mean but in the case of this album, the Bible references, some blatant some subtle as well as other inclusions of occultism shows that Behemoth’s music doesn’t just come from a place of creating for the sake of but more so from establishing their thoughts in the form of music.
“Sabbath Mater” continues the ILYAYD journey with one of the most gripping beginnings to a track that you could possibly imagine – again, also reminiscent of some older tracks especially that drum section but with renewed spirit. This track is interesting in a few ways, vocally especially but also the arrangement – it’s a very distinct track on this album in that it is probably that one track that you wouldn’t relate to Behemoth, but you also kind of would. The chorus is probably the main reason that I would point to this as the “highlight” – in that it signifies Behemoth’s conscious change in sound dynamic. The rock in this album is so strong and I love it, offering up some pretty cool solos and combined with those punishing black metal vocal lines. “Havohej Pantocrator” is huge. It feels almost disrespectful at times trying to describe this album in words because it’s just so perfect – but “Havohej Pantocrator” is THE track on this album that has it all. The culmination of everything that Behemoth stands for surfaces slowly as it progresses. It is so indescribably unsettling, atmospheric, different and emotional. I’ll say it. I cried. There is something about this track that pulled the emotion out of me – whether it be the mid-tempo riffing, the hidden melodies in amongst a sea of dark, epic soundscapes. Every word will speak to you and emanates, dare I say it, a much more spiritual, emotive side to one of the greatest bands in the world (although Satan does make a very prominent feature).
“Rom 5:8” continues this tone and vibe, as the track flows through with heavy, blackened riffs but with yet again, that grim atmospheric disguise. The final ‘long’ track on this album “We Are The Next 1000 Years” speaks for itself with a title like that – the music even more so. “We are the ending of our days” – such profundity – it blows my mind the more you discover with every listen. The mellow, post-rock-esque section mid song is absolutely sublime and fits so well in amongst the barrage of black metal eventually leading to a soft end. The final track on this masterpiece of an album and outro is the epic final touch, and the absolute beast to seal it all; “Coagula” an absolutely magnificent end to a beautiful and powerful album. It is a triumphant end that brings forth the strongest parts of Behemoth; the heavy blasts, the haunting riffs and an absolutely riveting close.
There is no doubt that this is one of the band’s finest – and I’m sure that comes as no surpise, me saying it but it is the truth. The exploration has been immense and it is very, very obvious that Behemoth shed light on a different side of themselves. The complexity of their music interwoven with incredible orchestrations, melodic leads and lots of beautiful down-tempo atmospheric moments undeniably exhibits their evolution, their growth and their beliefs as a band and as individuals. The lingering darkness on every track is not only enlightening in a way (I don’t know how else to put it) but also extremely impactful. Nergal’s individuality, his own personal journey and his, as well as the band’s anti-religion stance, seeps through at every point and this reflects so much in the versatility of his vocals as well as the drums and guitars. Apart from the music itself, there are just so many clever moments and ideas on this album that you pick up along the way such as the intrinsic link between the first and last tracks or the underlying messages hidden within the album itself. Needless to say, the production is raw as hell, crisp and perfectly consolidates Behemoth’s sound.
This is where my declaration of eternal and undying love comes in; if you’ve been a fan for as long as I have, you will definitely appreciate what this album signifies in the band’s career. They’ve never been afraid to express themselves, to fight normalcy and to experiment; all while maintaining the most respectable integrity you could possibly see in a group of professional artists and musicians. They will not cater to the masses – this album is proof of that. They have taken their sound, their style and their dynamic, as well as the best of their influences and put forth something that is beyond otherworldly. Hail bloody Satan!
Behemoth – I Loved You At Your Darkest tracklisting
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
I Loved You At Your Darkest is out Friday October 5th. Pre-Order here
Review by Prarthana Venunathan (@MetalMaami)
Catch Behemoth playing Download Festival Australia 2019 – Details Here