Behemoth: The Satanist

The Satanist is a definitive statement for the individual and for renewed strength resulting from waging war against adversity, and it is by far the most focused, ruthless and powerful album of Behemoth's 23 year existence.


The Satanist

Label: Metal Blade
UK Release Date: 2014-02-04
US Release Date: 2014-02-04
“I sung of Chaos and Eternal Night,

Taught by the heav'nly Muse to venture down

The dark descent, and up to reascend...” ― John Milton, Paradise Lost

You often hear accounts of people who have stared death in the face and lived to tell the tale, whether after freak accidents or life-threatening illnesses. These stories often speak of a new appreciation for what really counts in the life of that person. It’s as if coming close to the one thing that no one on this earth can explain and turning your back on it to carry on living removes the fear that exists within most of us regardless of our religious/non-religious beliefs. The survivor sees with a renewed sense of purpose, and life is never really the same again. That's something the rest of us may never understand because we’re wrapped in trivialities that blind our focus and take away our strength as well as our ability to live each day as if it was our last.

This February the metal world’s focus is firmly placed on one band: Behemoth. The Polish band’s leader Adam “Nergal” Darski’s battle with leukaemia, which demanded a bone marrow transplant to save his life, has been much publicized since he was diagnosed with the disease in 2010. And so too has the success of his eventual recovery in late 2011. The most significant point to be taken from the time spanning Nergal’s diagnosis to his defeat of the disease is how this staunch Satanist refused to renounce his beliefs even when death’s scythe was scraping at his door. For an individual who has also faced and evaded the litigious hammer swinging from charges of blasphemy in his homeland, Nergal’s continued (public) dedication to his complex faith is impressive. Not only that, since he made his first appearance post-illness as a guest at a Fields of the Nephilim gig in May of 2011 to sing “Penetration”, Nergal’s determination to push Behemoth’s music and ideologies even further into the consciousness of metal’s mainstream is indicative of the clarity of vision only understood by a survivor.

The Satanist is a definitive statement for the individual and for renewed strength resulting from waging war against adversity, and it is by far the most focused, ruthless and powerful album of the band’s 23-year existence. For a band perched at the precipice of total metal domination, The Satanist is also an extremely uncompromising and uncommercial album that sees Behemoth draw heavily from the black metal side of their sound while maintaining the imperial death metal that began to take shape around the time of 1999’s Satanica. This album’s grandiose expanse recalls 2009’s Evangelion but with the added viciousness that has being missing from Behemoth since the triumphant Demigod conquered all back in 2004. Yet, most noticeably, there is a tangible air of defiance that exudes tremendous strength throughout each of the nine songs, both thematically and musically, that no other Behemoth album holds so emphatically from beginning to end.

“Lucifer”, the final song from Evangelion, whether intentionally or not, acts as a gateway between the Behemoth of old and the band that stands a dominant figure before us now. The four-piece -- rounded out by drummer Inferno, guitarist Seth and bassist Orion -- learned a valuable lesson from that song: that musical complexity does not necessarily equate to power, and that power can exist in slower tempos and simpler instrumentation once played with passion. This passion and understanding of pairing a song back to its vital base elements has carried through to The Satanist, and this songwriting direction is one of the reasons why this album is a resounding success.

It has been reported that while writing the music for The Satanist, Inferno mentioned to Nergal that he could hear the leukaemia in his riffs. From the instance you are hit with the strident riffs of opener, and first single, “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel”, you have to concede to this evocative statement. This song marches at a deliberate, confident pace and Nergal’s blasphemous lyrics are delivered with devilry wrought with humanity -- an important change from his blunt, guttural bark of yore. Nergal’s raw humanity is an interesting contrast when introduced to the elevated black metal that howls across “Furor Divinus” and “Messe Noire”, as the past percussiveness of his vocals is replaced by a relatable anguish that permeates the entire album, giving each song an energy that’s breathtaking in its fluency.

Interestingly, the Poles' modus operandi for The Satanist is to finally separate Behemoth from the bands they have been weighed against in the past; Morbid Angel, Vader and Nile being inescapable comparisons. And even though you can hear certain influences -- for example, the Dissection-esque riffs that storm through “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” and stomp of Gojira during the surprisingly hook-laden title-track -- Behemoth achieve their ambitious aspirations through ravenous self-confidence and controlled chaos. From the stalking beginnings of “Blow Your Trumpet Gabriel” to the superior orchestration of “In the Absense Ov Light”, and the emotional highpoint that is the ferocious, regal and cinematic closer “O Father O Satan O Sun!” there is not an ounce of excess on this album, symptomatic of the meticulous song-craft on show. This year you will be presented with hundreds of metal albums, some worth your devotion and some not, but you will be hard pressed to find another album that is as essential and equal parts human and inhuman as The Satanist, a world-beating return from near death for Behemoth’s enigmatic emperor.


From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

Next Page
Related Articles Around the Web

Subverting the Romcom: Mercedes Grower on Creating 'Brakes'

Noel Fielding (Daniel) and Mercedes Grower (Layla) (courtesy Bulldog Film Distribution)

Brakes plunges straight into the brutal and absurd endings of the relationships of nine couples before travelling back in time to discover the moments of those first sparks of love.

The improvised dark comedy Brakes (2017), a self-described "anti-romcom", is the debut feature of comedienne and writer, director and actress Mercedes Grower. Awarded production completion funding from the BFI Film Fund, Grower now finds herself looking to the future as she develops her second feature film, alongside working with Laura Michalchyshyn from Sundance TV and Wren Arthur from Olive productions on her sitcom, Sailor.

Keep reading... Show less

People aren't cheering Supergirl on here. They're not thanking her for her heroism, or even stopping to take a selfie.

It's rare for any hero who isn't Superman to gain the kind of credibility that grants them the implicitly, unflinching trust of the public. In fact, even Superman struggles to maintain that credibility and he's Superman. If the ultimate paragon of heroes struggles with maintaining the trust of the public, then what hope does any hero have?

Keep reading... Show less

The Paraguay-born, Brooklyn-based indie pop artist MAJO wraps brand new holiday music for us to enjoy in a bow.

It's that time of year yet again, and with Christmastime comes Christmas tunes. Amongst the countless new covers of holiday classics that will be flooding streaming apps throughout the season from some of our favorite artists, it's always especially heartening to see some original writing flowing in. Such is the gift that Paraguay-born, Brooklyn-based indie pop songwriter MAJO is bringing us this year.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.