Behemoth – ‘Evangelia Heretica’ DVD Review

For such a visually orientated band, Behemoth have proved to be rather disappointing in the DVD stakes. Both ‘Crush, Fukk, Create’ and ‘Live rebellion’ were reasonable documents of the band at the time but neither really pushed the boundaries of the format and the former DVD in particular suffered from an emphasis on documentaries that would normally be considered bonus features at best. Happily ‘Evangelia Heretica’, arriving on the back of one of behemoth’s most expansive pieces of work (the stunning ‘Evangelion’) redresses the balance with the first disc comprinsing a generous two full shows (2008 live in France and 2009 live at the wonderful stodola venue in Warsaw), proffessionally filmed and benefitting from crystal clear sound while the second disc offers the band’s stunning (and often cotroversial) music videos and two documentaries both of which prove to be of passing interest but perhaps only worth watching once unless you’re the biggest fan of the band ever. With Nergal still recovering from Leukemia, this offers the best chance to see one of the world’s mightiest deathy metal bands in full flight until the self-possessed frontman returns to his rightful place at the head of Behemoth towards the end of this year.

Behemoth are an utterly different prospect to the early incarnation of the band. The blackened rumble of albums such as ‘Grom’ have long been left behind and replaced with a vast, symphonic technicality that draws comparisons with Dimmu Borgir’s bombastic might and Nile’s eastern-tinged sonic attack. Ultimately though, Behemoth’s evolution has been an astonishing spectacle and the pinnacle in the band’s crown (so far) has to be the astonishing ‘Evangelion’, a dense, twisting album of relentless brutality and intelligent lyrics. Live the band do not disappoint either, with a stage adorned with ornate mic stands and symbols and Nergal winding the crowd up into a sweaty fervour in his native language and receiving a rapturous response for every perfectly executed song that is spat out at maximum speed and with a shockingly precise delivery. This is all captured on the DVD whcih benefits from being well filmed and edited (there are a few rapid cuts but not too much effects-laden tomfoolery) and presented with an utterly devestating 5.1 mix which is up there with NIN and Arch Enemy in the presentation and sonic clarity stakes. In short, Behemoth have finally gathered together the perfect representation of their live show and this DVD is nigh on essential for blackened death metal fans.

Of course, no matter how well filmed a DVD is, it is still nothing without the songs but one glance at the set lists will allay any fears that the band wouldn’t present themselves in the best possible light. The 2009 show features so much in the way of classic material that it’s hard to know where to start but ‘Ov fire and the void’, Conquer all’, ‘as above so below’ and ‘Slaves shall serve’ all offer highlights of a set that draws together much of what makes Behemoth such a beloved force the world over. Meanwhile the second set (filmed a full year earlier) offers many of those same classics but the set lists are some seven songs adrift from each other and the presentation markedly different with the band notably fired up by not having the comfort zone of being on home territory,although the French crowd are equally rapturous proving just how far and fast the word of Behemoth has spread. Drawing heavily from then current album ‘the Apostasy’, there’s a vital energy from the band that is practically electric and you’ll be drawn to the screen by sheer magnetism of Nergal’s amazing performance, making both concerts essential viewing even with the repeated tracks. It is the band’s performance in both cases that really stuns. Inferno is a master of brutal, technical drumming and Nergal is a stunning frontman and guitarist while live guitarist Seth (who also provides backing vocals) is an admirable foil for Nergal, providing a much needed boost to the band’s astonishingly heavy live sound.

Disc 2 has two documentaries which provide on the road footage, making of material and various other aspects of the band’s recent existance but for my tastes I’d like to see more about the band’s formation and evolution from their impressive, if humble, black metal roots to their current position at the top of the blackened death metal heap. However, die-hard fans of the band will lap it up and the inclusion of the band’s videos is icing on the cake making the package every bit as generous as Dimmu Borgir’s excellent ‘the invaluable darkness’ set (which was also out on Nuclear Blast) and if that really isn’t enough there is also a bonus CD of the 2009 concert (in full) and some beautifully produced packaging in the style of Evangelion.

Overall this is the package that Behemoth fans have been dying to receive. Beautifully put together, visually and sonically awesome and a powerful reminder of just how unstoppable Behemoth are, this is an essential purchase for fans of the band and a landmark release which highlights just how revered this band deservedly are. An utterly breathtaking set from a truly special band.

DVD 1 – Live In Paris 2008
Rome 64 C.E.
Slaying The Prophets Ov Isa
Antichristian Phenomenon
Demigod
From The Pagan Vastlands
Conquer All
Prometherion
Drum Solo
Slaves Shall Serve
As Above So Below
At The Left Hand Of God
Summoning Ov The Ancient Ones
Christgrinding Avenue
Christians To The Lions
Sculpting The Throne Ov Seth
Decade Ov Therion
Chant For Ezkaton 2000 E.V.
Pure Evil & Hate
I Got Erection

DVD 1 – Live in Warsaw 2009

Intro

Ov Fire And The Void

Demigod

Pan Satyros

Shemhamforash

Conquer All

Decade Ov Therion

Wolves Guard My Coffin

Christians To The Lions

At The Left Hand Ov God

Slaves Shall Serve

As Above So Below

Drum Solo

Lam

Alas Lord Is Upon Me

Antichristian Phenomenon

Chant For Ezkaton 2000 E.V.

Lucifer

DVD 2

Evangelia Nova (Documentary)
De Arte Heretika (Documentary)

Decade Ov Therion (Video)
As Above So Below (Video)
Conquer All (Video)
Slaves Shall Serve (Video)
Prometherion (Video)
At The Left Hand Ov God (Video)
Inner Sanctum (Video)
Ov Fire And The Void (Video)
Alas, Lord Is Upon Me Is Upon Me (Video)

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