Behemoth is a death metal band that emerged from Poland back in the 90s. They are considered to be one of the leading metal bands to come out of Poland and have made a name for themselves in the metal community. The Satanist comes five years after the release of their previous album, Evangelion, which was released in 2009. This is the largest time gap between the band’s albums mainly because the lead singer and guitarist, Adam Darski, suffered from leukemia. Thankfully, Darski has fought off leukemia and recovered. This hiatus might have something to do with the overall pace and tone on The Satanist. Musically, this album is incredibly ambitious, and the band returns to the metal genre in a big way.
From the start, the listener will realize The Satanist has a pretty epic arrangement of instruments. This really threw me off when I first heard the album. The first track, “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel,” is a great example. In the song, Darski roars out the words from the track title like a war cry. Trumpet horns softly echo out in the back of the track when Darski screams. It leaves the listener stunned from this gripping tune as the music continues to build.
The vocals on this album are just as raw. It doesn’t come off as bewildering compared to other black metal albums. Darski’s voice feels more primal when he sings, giving each song constant energy that leaves you at the edge of your seat. His lyrics are so well-written and performed. Darski finds a perfect balance between aggression and subtlety. It feels like it could be very difficult to pull off in the genre of metal, yet Behemoth does this with ease.
There are also some surprising varieties in this record. “In the Absence of Light” throws in a couple verses that are in Polish. With these verses comes forth a soft, acoustic guitar that gently plays in the background. Along with a saxophone that’s even more distant in the backdrop, is a saxophone that plays elegantly alongside the guitar and vocals. The experience Behemoth is providing is very melodic and beautiful before the impending doom of metal comes swooping down and destroying the beauty of this track.
Then comes the closer of this album, “O Father O Satan O Sun!,” which is probably one of the best closers to an album of any genre that I’ve heard in a very long time. Everything in the closer erupts like a volcano. The drums, guitar, and vocals are persistently turning up the volume with intensity and beauty. While distant choirs that sound like angels willows out in the background, making the entire listening experience as a whole end in the most climatic way possible. It gives away an unbelievable closer to an album that will immediately make you want to listen to it again.
It’s very difficult to find a complaint in this album. I think it’s mostly because Behemoth created a short album that’s around forty-five minutes long. It’s short enough that there almost isn’t room for flaws to be made. But that doesn’t mean that this album is flawless either. The only real flaw I could find is from their two shorter songs, “Furor Divinus” and “Amen.” I can’t believe I’m saying this, but these songs were too short. If Behemoth had an extra couple of minutes in these songs, they would’ve been more fleshed out. The songs themselves are great, but they go by very quickly almost as if they were on fast forward. Another flaw on this LP is that sometimes the bass can be obscure, but honestly, the bass isn’t really an essential instrument in black metal so it’s no real loss.
Besides those flaws, it’s difficult to dislike this record unless you’re not into metal. For metal fans, The Satanist is an absolute must listen. Now for everyone else, it’s a toss-up. This album does follow several clichés in the metal genre. The insistence on the roaring vocals on the microphone and constant tones of irreligious lyrics will hold some people back. But I urge everyone who’s reading this to at least give this album a chance, especially the first and last tracks. These tracks are incredible pieces of music, not only in the metal genre, but for music as a whole. If it’s still not listenable, then I commend you for trying.
When the final track finishes on The Satanist, the listener will feel completely drained and exhausted. It’s equivalent to working out at a gym where you’re just physically worn out from the experience. With the superb riffs and songwriting, Behemoth created one of the best comeback albums I’ve heard from any band. The payoff is outstanding in the long run, and this record is, without a doubt, one of the most well-crafted death metal albums in years. From beginning to end, The Satanist is a masterful record that needs to be played by every metal fan and is a good gateway for other listeners in the black metal genre.