December 5, 2009

Behemoth - Evangelion

Behemoth is an interesting act. The combination of their extreme style, front man and founder Nergal's vocals, and their obvious distaste for organized religion and Christianity in general make my enjoyment of their music something of a challenge. It is not often my faith is challenged up front like this. In any case, while our belief systems are clearly different, we are all free to follow (or not) who we want. It is something I have worked on reconciling over the years as I enjoy music and films that can contain some wild material that is at odds with what I believe. It will not change my faith, so long as that remains true, I feel freed and empowered to like some of the things I like. One of those things is the music of Behemoth and their latest album, Evangelion, is quite the strong work.

I was first introduced to Behemoth in 2006 with a reissue of their 1994 debut, And the Forests Dream Eternally. It was not my favorite, but it did scare me a little as it sounded like a low-fi compression of the voice of Satan. While I was not completely taken with what I heard, I was intrigued enough to see them live on the 2007 Radio Rebellion tour that saw them co-headlining with Job for a Cowboy. That performance along with the album Apostasy began to win me over as a fan. Yes, Nergal's anti-religion act got to me a little, particularly when he ripped up a Bible onstage to the delight of the crowd, but it was the music and not the antics which proved to be the draw.

Throughout Evangelion, this trio push their skills to the edge and deliver an engrossing experience that leaves me in awe of their abilities while simultaneously reinforcing the thought I am listening to the voice of Satan, perhaps not his words, but definitely his voice.


There are elements of black metal mixed with thrash metal and that combination rubs elbows with Gojira-esque sounds of slowed down doom. It is a great sound, one that challenges with deceptive complexity while getting you into a groove that makes you want to jump on the pit.

Evangelion opens with a punch to the face known as "Daimonos," a lyrical ode to Dionysus. It is not the best track on the album, but it does a good job of setting up what to expect as you move forward. That is followed by "Shemaforash," which keeps the pace high but brings a little more atmosphere. Still, while the first track is a punch to the face, this is a repeating kick to the gut.

It almost feels like they front loaded the album with the fast stuff and progressively slowed down as they moved through the album. This would initially sound like a bad thing, but hear me out. Beginning with the third track, the awesome first single "Ov Fire and the Void," the focus seems to shift from primarily speed to more complex arrangements that truly play off of their strengths and mix up the tempos leading to the 8-minute album-ender "Lucifer" and it is significantly slower pace than "Daimonos." Do not get me wrong, the speed is definitely still there throughout, it is just not the entire song. Just look at "He Who Breeds Pestilence" as a good example of mixing the two.

However you want to slice it, this album will drag you kicking and screaming through its 9 songs and 42-minutes of brutality. Their sound is distinctive, the musicians talented, and it is music that you will want to come back to. Nergal is a fascinating personality. I have heard interviews and he comes across as quite intelligent (not that I did not expect it) and a genuinely nice fellow with a deep love for music.

Nerga's dedication to craft shows through in his impressive guitar and vocal work. Having seen him live, it is easy to believe in his growls, as he would lift his head to open his throat to allow those deathly sounds erupt. Inferno is the man behind the drum kit and he basses with furious abandon with some nice double-bass work. Finally, Orion has his hands on the bass and makes sure the low end keeps moving forward. I admit his work did not stand out as much, but there is no doubt the role he plays in the thick wall of sound they create.

Bottomline. At some point I need to check out more of their back catalog. With that said, this is a fantastic album with just the right balance of technical prowess and brutality. Metal fans will want to seek this out.

Highly Recommended.

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