I’ve said this about albums before and I am going to say it about BEHEMOTH’S latest, I Loved You At Your Darkest (out now, Metal Blade Records): this was a tough one to write up. Now, by no means is that because there’s anything wrong with the record, quite the opposite. Okay, before we go any further, understand that if you’re looking for The Satanist Part II, you won’t find it here. And as phenomenal and widely acclaimed as that last record was, it’s a good thing when a band opts to not just stir, repeat, stir, repeat on the next one. There are lots of layers to this particular onion. Sure, you’ll get a healthy dose of blast beats, dark and evil riffs, et al, but there are some curveballs on this one. Hence why I had to sit with it…
Opening up with a children’s choir on “Solve” an eerie, malevolent tone is set as the band tears into “Wolves ov Siberia”, guitarist and vocalist Nergal spitting venom ten feet across the room like a King Cobra, Orion’s bass lines pounding away, and Inferno cracking the land, sea, and air with his mighty drum sound. “God = Dog” is full on blasphemy and sacrilege, so naturally I’m all over it. Here we get to experience some different aspects of Inferno’s drumming, from a swinging rock beat at the beginning, to crazy tom fills, to his signature aforementioned blast beats. Orion also flexes his bass muscles on this one. All I know is this was the perfect choice for a first single. I must have blared it over and over again that first week.
With a title like “Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica” you just know shit’s gonna go down, right? This tune is definitely one I could see being on The Satanist, so not surprisingly I loved it. And now we come to my runaway favorite on the whole disc, “Bartzabel.” A ritualistic, almost tribal drum pattern coupled with a sinister guitar sound had me hooked from day one. The track blossoms into a midtempo number, and features clean vocals on the hook, “Come unto me, Bartzabel.” The guitar solo is very fluid, enhancing the flavor of the song. “If Crucifixion Was Not Enough” quickens the pace, and features some of that dissonant Black Metal riffing we all know and love. Also, there’s one hellacious solo run at 1:53 that I sure as shit didn’t see coming!
Once again the drums anchor “Angelvs XIII” as Inferno seemingly makes use of every piece in his kit, not that I’m complaining mind you. “Sabbath Mater” is a chest-thumping Black/Death Metal anthem that also has some clean vocals in it, while “Havohej Pantocrator” shows a push and pull, and calls to mind a battle between the angels of darkness and light. Pro tip: the darkness always wins, so abandon all your unicorns and rainbows, your lovey-dovey bullshit. Another one I simply couldn’t/can’t get enough of was/is “Rom 5:8” because not only does it speak to me lyrically, but the music transports me to another plane, and that feels good.
Blast Beats abound on “We Are the Next 1000 Years” sounding not unlike a bulldozer running over and through the ruins and rubble of a bombed-out city, probably destroyed in the name of religion. Closer “Coagvla” is an instrumental march for all those who dare to oppose the mountain of horseshit the churches have tried to shove down our throats for years. I may be way off base, but that’s what I envision every time it plays. All told I Loved You At Your Darkest is an excellent record. And I am truly glad that BEHEMOTH did not try to duplicate the successes of the past, but instead chose to forge a new path in different directions, all while growing further, and pushing the boundaries of Extreme Metal. Ave Satanas!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM