Behemoth - The Satanist

Much to my most unholy delight, Behemoth has this week graced us with their tenth and latest album, “The Satanist.” Sure, the release of a new Behemoth album is reason enough to praise the dark powers-that-be, but what pleases me even more about this release is that it marks the return of Nergal, the heart of the Behemoth, to the front line of metal.

As I’m sure any Behemoth fan is well aware, Nergal was diagnosed with leukemia back in 2010. The news came as quite a shock and I naturally became quite concerned about his health, and to a lesser extent, the future of Behemoth.

Fuck cancer.

I know very little about what hellish trials he may have had to endure, but apparently after receiving a bone marrow transplant (which I’ve heard is no picnic) Nergal appears to be on the mend. News that a new Behemoth album was in the works obviously gave me the impression that he is headed in the right direction. And for that I am quite glad.

I first came across Behemoth with the release of their 1999 fourth album, “Satanica.” A lot of extreme metal back in those days was either aping the sounds of Cradle of Filth and/or Dimmu Borgir, or still pulling itself out of the primordial metal slime, and hadn’t become very polished yet. So when I heard “Satanica”, which sounds quite good for 1999, I knew these guys were going to be a band to watch.

Not to discount the success the band has had thus far, but I have always been surprised Behemoth wasn’t “bigger” on the metal scene. Their material has been of consistently high quality throughout the years, and yet I really only started seeing them come to the forefront of the communal metal consciousness after the release of their last album, “Evangelion.” With the release of “The Satanist”, I think the band’s time has finally come for world domination.

“The Satanist” has a massive and epic sounding production, which is no surprise since they’ve been pulling that off ever since I first heard them. The songs on this album are both punishingly heavy, and at times, quite beautiful (“In the Absence ov Light.”)

When hearing an album for the first time I often have to get that first listen out of the way before I can start to become comfortable and familiar with the music. Maybe it was all the anticipation I felt leading up to this release, but listening to “The Satanist” was immediately like slipping on a well-worn glove; it just felt right. I don’t often feel that way with a first listen, so when I do, it stands out.

Will “The Satanist” conquer the world on its own merits, or will it gain extra ground based on the story of Nergal’s recovery? Given that I myself felt compelled to lead with Nergal’s story, I expect it will certainly provide some extra attention. However, I have no doubt that “The Satanist” does not need that added publicity. This album has what it takes to stand atop the heap of metal in 2014. Welcome back, Nergal!