Despite its underground origination, extreme music and black metal specifically has had a resurgence over the last five to ten years with bands such as Watain, Zeal & Ardor, and MØL all pushing the boundaries of what is considered to be black metal and thrusting those ideas out to the mainstream.
While Poland’s Behemoth aren’t black metal in the truest sense (more so blackened death metal), previous studio record ‘The Satanist’ catapulted the band right to the top of many album of the year lists, and was seen by many as a modern classic. ‘I Loved You At Your Darkest’, their eleventh studio record, aims to continue that trajectory.
Opener ‘Solve’ introduces that often dodgy accompaniment to heavy records – the child choir – although it seems to work quite well here with haunting sounds creating an honestly terrifying atmosphere. ‘Wolves Ov Siberia’ encompasses thunderously catchy guitar riffs resulting in a real driving pace to the song, coupled with tribal-esque drumming throughout and a finale splattered with blast beats.
Lead single, ‘God = Dog’, comes complete with the return of that child choir (plus an odd choice of song title), but, again, the dynamic of the chorus works in the context of the track, which returns with haunting sonics and broken-down drum sections interspersed with melodic guitar passages. There’s a decent guitar solo towards the end of this song too, which ties everything together nicely into its conclusion.
The pace relents during ‘Bartzabel’, with a gentle build-up that launches into spasmodically ferocious vocals from mastermind Nergal backed up by intense guitar strumming. It’s fairly methodical and laid back, but also showcases a sinister and unsettling atmosphere and demonstrates the band’s diverse talents of what they can produce in the extreme metal sphere.
‘Sabbath Mater’ includes some upfront lyrical content within a playful framework; “Love me organically. / Fuck me ecstatically.”, whilst ‘1,000 Years’ has an incredibly catchy chorus with melodic guitar parts that join up the various constituent aspects of the track quite well; almost in a similar vein to Gojira with an ethereal quality to it. Some unrelenting blast beats carry the rhythm section for the duration of its running time, adding a nihilistic quality to the proceedings.
Despite their stock increasing immensely over the last decade with headline festival appearances, touring respectably-sized venues, and a merchandise collection only rivaled by the likes of Metallica and Iron Maiden, Behemoth have continued to stay true to their underground philosophy by concentrating on their art and not pandering to commercial demands.
With an incendiary live show, the top quality material from ‘I Loved You At Your Darkest’ should only add to their reputation and further cement Behemoth as extreme metal’s brightest (or rather darkest) light.
After getting into alternative music during the mid 90s with the rise of nu-metal and pop-punk, I’ve gradually spread my interests far and wide and have a real love for metalcore, prog metal and tech metal. Amongst other things, I am a husband, father of two amazing kids, heavy metal DJ, and video game/book/nerd enthusiast!