Released: 2007, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Behemoth’s quest for world domination continues with the Polish Metal Kings’ trademark skull-splitting blackened death metal fury on their latest opus, THE APOSTASY. Where 2005’s DEMIGOD laid the foundation that was first set out by ZOS KIA CULTUS two years earlier, THE APOSTASY relishes in even more savage, grinding riffs and borderline inhuman drumming to create another slab of Thelemic-based misanthropy. One major difference between DEMIGOD and THE APOSTASY is Nergal’s use of multi-layered vocals is significantly reigned in. In their place are a singular—but just as powerful—booming vocal track that makes the songs sound clearer and less dense. Incorporating an epic tone similar to DEMIGOD, many of the songs on THE APOSTASY have a lot going on that requires repeated listens, including the use of choirs, horn sections and even piano. The overtly blasphemous lyrics are still present and despite greater melody than ever heard before, Behemoth shows no sign of softening up but it is clear that even after nine albums, the band is stretching itself as musicians and songwriters to keep their pagan/Middle Eastern heavy metal worship fresh and interesting to themselves and their fans.
The regal intro “Rome 64 C.E.” paves the way for a gut-churning drum assault courtesy of Inferno to open “Slaying The Prophets Ov Isa.” Nergal’s razor-sharp riffs and diving leads are augmented by a brief choral section that closes the track. “Prometherion” is THE APOSTASY’s version of “Slaves Shall Serve” with sweeping riffs, insane blastbeats and an underlying brutality that gels nicely with the melodies. “At The Left Hand Ov God” balances classical guitar with tribal drumming, locking into a mid-paced groove punctuated by chanting, guitar squeals and controlled double bass. “Kriegsphilosophie” (the German title translates to “Philosophy of War”) and “Arcana Hereticae” turn the controlled chaos on its head by going full throttle with vicious blasting and some of Nergal’s most brutal vocals to date. The swirling riffs and aggressive tone hearken back to elements found on the band’s earlier albums like THELEMA.6 and SATANICA, as Behemoth shifted from a black metal powerhouse to a more threshed-out and musically-challenging death metal entity. Coupled with the ivory-tinkling of Polish classical pianist, Leszek Mozdzer, Nevermore’s Warrel Dane makes a guest appearance on “Inner Sanctum” adding a new spectrum to Behemoth’s sound that will surely spark mixed reactions. The spoken word vocals and Dane’s high-pitched delivery may not sit well with the band’s longtime fans but the song does seem a bit clunky, in all honesty. “Pazuzu,” however, is a high-speed maelstrom of death metal ferocity. Ripping along at two-and-a-half minutes, the track finds Behemoth at its most brutal, barely letting up after Inferno’s drum intro and going right for the jugular powered by Nergal’s tightly-wound riffing. Likewise, “Christgrinding Avenue” exemplifies how death metal can groove and decimate at the same time. The pronounced melody never gets shoved aside by the intensity of Inferno and Nergal and with a horn section dropped in for a majestic touch, this is sure to become a fan favorite.
Like feeding the “Christians To The Lions” (pardon the pun), Behemoth clearly has one goal in its sight—converting the innocent masses to well-played, expertly-crafted, bludgeoning death metal. Touring incessantly in support of DEMIGOD, Behemoth blew the heads off of fans at 2006’s Sounds of The Underground Tour and are currently annihilating the crowds on this summer’s Ozzfest, so they are certainly taking the proper highways. THE APOSTASY is not a major step-up from DEMIGOD but rather a refinement of the groundwork the band has been etching over its last three albums. The cleaner production and slightly slower tempos may scare off some purists but THE APOSTASY finds Behemoth honed to a lethal, death metal machine.
KILLER KUTS: “Slaying The Prophets of Isa,” “Prometherion,” “At The Left Hand Ov God,” “Kriegsphilosophie,” “Pazuzu,” “Christgrinding Avenue”