Friday, February 7, 2014
Behemoth - The Satanist
I've been trying to complete this review for the better part of a week, and it's really not going so hot. I keep trying to figure out and rationalize why that is, whether it's been my work schedule, the Super Bowl, whatever number Polar Vortex this is, sheer laziness... nothing is off the table. Well, that's not quite true. The one thing I haven't considered is that maybe I'm just not into this record, and I really try hard to only review records about which I have something to say.
The Satanist is, for all intents and purposes, a good album, so I'm not worried about having to write a scathing review. Quite honestly, it's the most accessible, diverse Behemoth album to date, the only entry in their discography that I've felt compelled to listen to over and over again instead of throwing my favorite track on a playlist. I think it might be that once I get beyond the terrific opening riff of "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel" and the emphatic, resounding conclusion of "O Father O Satan O Sun!" all the most interesting things about the album have nothing to do with the music.
For those of you new to the site, or metal in general, Behemoth's lead singer Nergal recently survived leukemia. That's interesting to me, far more so than the bass lines laid down on "Messe Noire," or the album's use of trumpets to move past the standard blackened death metal tropes of previous albums. The titling of the album The Satanist fascinates me, as it's an incredibly direct title given the group's anti-Christian and overt Satanist themes and lyrics over the years; one wonders how a man who once went to trial for ripping a Bible in half in concert only thought up an album title like The Satanist ten years into his band's career. Thinking about how surviving cancer may have had an impact on the simple, direct, and powerful titling of the album, as well as the lyrics and music contained on said album.
Thinking about these issues and trying to tie them into The Satanist's nine tracks has been a tedious effort on my part; I don't want to try and assume what another man is intending to say when I have neither met him nor faced anything near the adversity as he. I could say that The Satanist is a dynamic album, one that feels full of layers and life, but that assertation feels hollow, as though I'm trying to tie my perception of the album into what little I know about the primary man behind it. Which I suppose is a way people view art all the time, tying their direct experiences into what they see and hear and perceive, but in this case it almost feels as though I have too much backstory, know too much about what happened before the making of The Satanist to really view it through any lens but that - even if I don't really know much at all.
So in an effort to conclude my rambling thoughts that perhaps included a whopping four sentences about the actual music, let me try this: The Satanist is a very good blackened death metal album. I can't see myself going back to it habitually over the course of the year, but "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel" and "In the Absence Ov Light" are two phenomenal pieces of music that I will most assuredly continue listening to. Most important ov all, though, is that a man survived a life-threatening illness and returned to his passion. That's something worth celebrating, something which makes The Satanist worth listening to.