BEHEMOTH – The Apostasy

Poland’s BEHEMOTH have evolved considerably since their humble black metal beginnings on …And the Forests Dream Eternally. Throughout the band’s career, mainman Nergal has developed, honed, and refined the band’s sound, aided ably by monstrous drummer Inferno. Beginning with the Satanica album the duo combined the power of MORBID ANGEL, the precision of fellow countrymen VADER and the dark atmosphere of black metal, creating a winning formula that the band has been perfecting ever since. Although BEHEMOTH has essentially been one-upping themselves with a slightly better version of their previous album each time around, for The Apostasy, the band has pulled out all the stops. On the surface, The Apostasy sounds like standard BEHEMOTH, flurries of double-bass drumming, technical parts, Eastern influences, and over-the-top aggression abound, but repeat listens reveal intricate subtleties that listeners might miss amidst the band’s initial barrage. Choirs and keyboards for example, are used freely throughout the album, but in an understated manner that utilizes these contributions as enhancements to the band’s sound as opposed to obstructions. So no, BEHEMOTH isn’t turning in to THERION, but it’s these light touches that provide extra spice to the album. Nergal also breaks out the acoustic with an atmospheric intro here and an ominous solo there, as on “At the Left Hand Ov God” and “Inner Sanctum.” Nergal and session man Seth also deliver some of BEHEMOTH‘s most memorable and musical leads to date on the aforementioned tracks as well as “Kriegsphilosphie.” The Apostasy also benefits from experimentation on the progressive “Libertheme” while “Be Without Fear” is the album’s catchiest track, a fist-pounding anthem with enough guitar crunch to send the majority of Victory Record‘s breakdown-happy roster back to the drawing board to figure out how it’s done. Major credit is due to Daniel Bergstrand‘s mix, which brings a fuller clarity to the band’s songs as well as revealing some of the album’s finer details and nuances. Overall, The Apostasy is a success and a triumph from one of the most consistent, tireless, and hard-working bands in the extreme metal world. (Century Media Records)

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