I usually, like the conscientious reviewer I try to be, listen to a record a few times before I start pontificating on it. I’m just some bloke though, despite what this gleaming halo of critical infallibility would lead you to think, and like most blokes I reserve the right to do things differently every now and then, You know, just to mess with people and that. It doesn’t even have to be a big change, by the way—something you might not even notice I’ve done, but gives me a cheeky little thrill. Different pants, that sort of thing.
SO THEN. What I’ve done is started writing this review before The Satanist is even finished. ANARCHY! This might even backfire, really badly. FUCK, WHAT HAVE I DONE?!
I’ve never been an especial fan of Adam ‘Nergal’ Darski and his Jesus-hating mates, which probably means I’ll never be allowed in the Kool Kidz Klub or something equally life-ending. Whilst I’ve always found them perfectly okay, even pretty good, the sheer amount of glowing praise chucked their way has always left me a bit puzzled—the fury and racket is always there, but it never grabbed my attention quite as fully as others, apparently. As I write this paragraph, the last song on The Satanist is just about to go FULLY BONKERS by the sounds of it, and I’ll tell you this, Pigeon-friends—it’s a bit good, this album. I’m instantly smitten, I just hope it can maintain my interest.
(This bit was written with the benefit of a couple of days with the record. Full disclosure, and that. Not Disclosure the rubbish film, I mean…oh, forget it.) Compared to their earlier stuff, the production is vastly more grandiose and it brings something extra out of Behemoth. There’s an honest-to-goodness set of massive hairy balls to this record; the confidence to slow down and stretch out seems beyond a lot of bands, and whilst breakneck pace is impressive in and of itself, you can’t really sustain a whole record with it unless you’re doing other mad shit to make up for blurring past in a flurry of snare drums and tremelo picking.
The weird thing is, they’re not really doing much differently to before, yet The Satanist has utterly captivated me. There’s a vitality that seems lacking from anything else they’ve done, which imbues the whole thing with a real sense of urgent, genuine fury. It’d be easy enough—and probably accurate—to reason that this is at least partly due to Nergal’s recent fight with leukaemia—staring death in the eye has a way of really giving you a boot up the arse—and no doubt interviews will back this up. I’m going with ‘they just really actually hate Jesus now’ though, as I am fundamentally a bearded child.
Anyway. This is easily the best thing I’ve ever heard by Behemoth. By actual miles. Essential.