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Behemoth - I Loved You At Your Darkest (Album Review)

Thursday, 11 October 2018 Written by Alec Chillingworth

The standards Behemoth set for themselves on ‘I Loved You At Your Darkest’ were epochal. So, on first listen, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’ve lost their way.

Four years ago, they unleashed ‘The Satanist’: a flawless, nine track blackened death metal masterpiece. It served as their triumphant comeback, fitting into a convenient narrative after vocalist and guitarist Nergal beat leukaemia. He’d also won a six-year court case, something that’d hung over him since he ripped up a bible onstage in 2007.

‘The Satanist’ was Behemoth’s apex, both critically and commercially. They milked it, touring almost constantly for almost half a decade while releasing two EPs, a live album, a book, and some coffee amid a smattering of re-releases and other bits and pieces that made you wonder if they actually possessed the desire to head back to the studio.

Well, now we know. ‘I Loved You At Your Darkest’ has unveiled its ugly face, pinching its name from the big man himself, Jesus. And, as mentioned before, it initially feels like a failure. An anti-climax. Where ‘The Satanist’ pulled so many different flavours into the overarching Behemoth template, violently flip-flopping track-to-track, its successor initially offers two distinct sections: the largely standard first half, and a weird second act.

Songs like Wolves Ov Siberia and If Crucifixion Was Not Enough dutifully adhere to the recent Behemoth blueprints, if you want to call them that: furious double kick drum, imperious death metal riffing, Nergal’s gargled scream furiously coherent while reaching an all-time high in the mix. And then you’ve got stuff like Havohej Pantocrator on side two, which boasts a pull-and-release outro that could’ve been plucked from Swans’ post-rock plumage (or Liturgy, if you subscribe to the idea that Nergal is a poser because he sometimes wears big hats). We Are The Next 1000 Years ends on spacey keyboards that go all Jeff Wayne’s ‘War Of The Worlds’.

You do stop and wonder: how have Behemoth so spectacularly fucked this up? But then you listen some more, and you take it all back. ‘I Loved You At Your Darkest’ is subversively luscious, implicitly gothic. Little flakes of the songs’ skin fall off after each listen, revealing themselves in the sunlight only if you look for them.

There are slick, bluesy solos in Sabbath Mater and Angelvs XIII, Bartzabel’s Peter Murphy-meets-Rotting Christ balladry, the near-silent keys tying up Wolves Ov Siberia, the child choirs, the ‘grown-up’ choirs playing against Nergal’s bellow, Orion’s bass slithering through several nigh-on Western-style verses, Inferno’s roto tom fills on nearly every track…there’s just so much going on, but it’s never unfocused. Unlike their 2007 misfire ‘The Apostasy’ this experimentation is backed up by actual songs.

And that’s what it’s all about, the songs. You can be as evil as you want, but nobody’s listening if you can’t hold a tune. Back in Behemoth’s pure black metal days, they wrote stuff like The Thousand Plagues I Witness. It was good music, but campy rather than callous. It wanted to be something more, but couldn’t figure out quite how to do it. In 2018, they write Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica, its organ-style keys cutting through the cheese, shaving it away to make room for a brass section. Nergal claims “I have ridden the tail of the comet” and you believe him.  

‘I Loved You At Your Darkest’ is cinematic yet organic, sacred and profane. No longer black metal laggards or Nile copyists, it’s the band’s most eclectic record to date, slapping a sickly guitar tone and Nergal’s inimitable vocals atop a tapestry rich as it is broad. Behemoth could have floundered after ‘The Satanist’. Instead, they’ve done something completely different. And it’s incredible.

Behemoth Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Wed February 06 2019 - BRISTOL Marble Factory
Thu February 07 2019 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Fri February 08 2019 - LONDON O2 Forum Kentish Town
Sat February 09 2019 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Sun February 10 2019 - DUBLIN Vicar Street
Mon February 11 2019 - GLASGOW QMU
Sat October 20 2018 - PHOENIX Arizona - Van Buren (USA)
Mon October 22 2018 - DALLAS Texas - House Of Blues - Dallas (USA)
Tue October 23 2018 - SAN ANTONIO Texas - Aztec Theatre (USA)
Wed October 24 2018 - HOUSTON Texas - House Of Blues - Houston (USA)
Fri October 26 2018 - ATLANTA Georgia - Heaven Stage at Masquerade - GA (USA)
Sat October 27 2018 - ST PETERSBURG Florida - Jannus Live (USA)
Mon October 29 2018 - CHARLOTTE North Carolina - Underground - Charlotte (USA)
Tue October 30 2018 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Fillmore - Philadelphia (USA)
Thu November 01 2018 - BOSTON Massachusetts - House Of Blues - Boston (USA)
Fri November 02 2018 - SILVER SPRING Maryland - Fillmore Silver Spring (USA)
Sat November 03 2018 - NEW YORK New York - PlayStation Theater (USA)
Sun November 04 2018 - MONTREAL Quebec - MTELUS (Canada)
Tue November 06 2018 - TORONTO Ontario - Danforth Music Hall Theatre (Canada)
Wed November 07 2018 - DETROIT Michigan - Saint Andrews Hall - Detroit (USA)
Fri November 09 2018 - CHICAGO Illinois - House Of Blues - Chicago (USA)
Sat November 10 2018 - MINNEAPOLIS Minnesota - Cabooze (USA)
Sun November 11 2018 - KANSAS CITY Missouri - Truman - Kansas City (USA)
Tue November 13 2018 - DENVER Colorado - Ogden Theatre (USA)
Wed November 14 2018 - SALT LAKE CITY Utah - Depot - Salt Lake City (USA)
Fri November 16 2018 - CALGARY Alberta - MacEwan Hall - Ballroom (Canada)
Sat November 17 2018 - EDMONTON Alberta - Union Hall - Edmonton (Canada)
Mon November 19 2018 - VANCOUVER British Columbia - Commodore Ballroom (Canada)
Tue November 20 2018 - SEATTLE Washington - Showbox (USA)
Wed November 21 2018 - PORTLAND Oregon - Mcmenamins Crystal Ballroom (USA)
Fri November 23 2018 - SAN FRANCISCO California - Regency Ballroom (USA)
Sat November 24 2018 - LOS ANGELES California - Wiltern (USA)
Thu January 10 2019 - FRANKFURT Batschkapp (Germany)
Fri January 11 2019 - MUNICH Tonhalle (Germany)
Sun January 13 2019 - VIENNA Arena (Austria)
Tue January 15 2019 - ZURICH Komplex 457 (Switzerland)
Wed January 16 2019 - MILAN Alcatraz (Italy)
Thu January 17 2019 - LYON Le Transbordeur (France)
Fri January 18 2019 - BARCELONA Razzmatazz (Spain)
Sat January 19 2019 - MADRID La Riviera (Spain)
Mon January 21 2019 - TOULOUSE Le Bikini (France)
Tue January 22 2019 - PARIS Bataclan (France)
Wed January 23 2019 - OBERHAUSEN Turbinenhalle (Germany)
Thu January 24 2019 - BERLIN Huxleys Neue Welt (Germany)
Fri January 25 2019 - COPENHAGEN Vega (Denmark)
Sat January 26 2019 - STOCKHOLM Annexet (Sweden)
Tue January 29 2019 - HELSINKI Circus (Finland)
Wed January 30 2019 - TAMPERE Pakkahuone (Finalnf)
Sat February 02 2019 - HAMBURG Grosse Freiheit 36 (Germany)
Mon February 04 2019 - ESCH SUR ALZETTE Rockhal (Luxembourg)

Click here to compare & buy Behemoth Tickets at Stereoboard.com.





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