There are some bands that carry an air of expectation before them, even before you hear the first track. Ever since their days of albums such as ‘Grom’ and ‘sventevith’ Behemoth are such a band, producing ever more accomplished blasts of pure metal fury. Last album, ‘The Apostasy’ was unrelentingly vicious, an icy cold album powered by blast beats and the harrowing fury of Nergal, whose lyrics and interviews point to a fierce intellect at the dark heart of this ludicrously competent band.
‘Evangelion’, thus, has an awful lot to live up to, not least because the band’s past towers high in the realms of extreme metal, but rest assured; it not only matches up to the band’s previous efforts, but actually towers above them. This is the work of extraordinary musicians hitting their peak, rendered all the more potent by a production job of brutal clarity (helped by the presence of the ever-reliable Colin Richardson) that allows every solo and snarled vocal the space to breathe amid the crashing cymbals and thunderous bass.
From the moment ‘Daimonos’ comes tearing through your stereo, you know that this album has moved the bar for extreme metal. “Honour me!” barks Nergal, an order one scarce feels able to disobey. As the riffs collide, you’re left breathless at the sheer power that this band command, and Nergal’s vocals sound ever more brutally inhuman. Standout track (and single) ‘Ov fire and the void’ is a case in point. The drums are brutally fast, the guitars slam harder than ever, and yet the track manages to contain both melody and invention, despite its extreme nature. It’s a remarkable song (backed up by one of the most powerful videos of recent years) and highlights everything that is special about this band. What makes this record even more compelling are the moments when the band slow the pace, even if only briefly, which offer a hint of dynamism that kept previous effort, ‘The Apostasy’, from the levels of genius that this beast of a record aspires to.
Of course, music this extreme is not for everyone. Nor, one suspects, would the band have it any other way. There is no compromise here, no softening for a larger audience, just the confidence and belief of a band driven by the force of will and an unshakeable faith in their undisputed talents. If you have even a passing interest in blackened death metal (or indeed if you are a fan of anything other than the generic nonsense you hear masquerading as metal on K*****g TV) then you need to get hold of this album as fast as possible. Everything from the carefully detailed liner notes explaining each song, to the stunning packaging, to the uniquely brilliant music contained therein, points to a band who are absolutely at the top of their game. Perfect in every detail, this is a strong contender for the extreme metal album of the year.