Polish extreme metal band Behemoth, along with their tenth studio album The Satanist, are intimately tied to vocalist, guitarist and bandleader Nergal Darski's harrowing last few years. A diagnosis and treatment of leukemia, continuing legal issues stemming from an eventually dropped charge of "inciting religious hatred," alongside the stress of following up a widely celebrated album (2009's Evangelion) set the pressure to a boiling point.
Instead of cowering, Behemoth have triumphantly returned with characteristic ugliness and chaos, though this is skillfully juxtaposed with a newfound delicacy. The Satanist undeniably fits in the Behemoth discography, with its occult-inspired, cacophonous brutality and Darski's primal howls. Unlike its predecessors, the arrangements are scaled back, favoring an organic approach that relies less on additional instrumentation (save for brief moments, such as the horn section in "Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer").
Here, the constant squealing solos and thunderous drums breathe and flower, and when placed against the atmospheric gothic rock segments, reinforce the inherent strength of dissimilarity. "The Satanist" plays with this divergence to impressive results, while triumphant closer "O Father O Satan O Sun!" is the highlight, an unrepentant vow of service to the dark lord that slows the tempo and delivers a dangerously sexual groove. Although it's unlikely to bring many more fans into the Behemoth fold — this band will forever be cursed by their black metal affiliation, given "underground" fans' distaste for success — it's a triumph, regardless of, and simultaneously reinforced by, the circumstances that bore it.
Read a new interview with Behemoth here. (Metal Blade)