Outdoing themselves on the presentation front, Peaceville have gathered together two of Behemoth’s EPs (‘Conjuration’ -2003 and ‘slaves shall serve’ – 2005), both of which are somewhat hard to find, bundled them together with bonus tracks from the band’s recent DVD and packaged the whole lot in a stunning, double-disc digi-book which is lavish even by the label’s previous high standards. With the band’s logo gracing the cover in raised silver lettering and outline and a 16 page booklet of pristine black and white live photos, this really is a beautiful package for collectors and it is again worth noting that Peaceville have gone that extra mile to create something of true value to the band and fans alike.
Of course all the presentation in the world wouldn’t save a bad release, but as fans will know Behemoth don’t do bad releases and ‘Abyssus Abyssum invocat’ is no exception. Musically capturing the band as they completed the transition from the uber-underground black metal masters of the ‘grom’ era to the technical death metal monsters that they are now, the set comprises seven studio tracks (including the band’s mental cover of nine inch nail’s ‘wish’) alongside eleven beautifully recorded live tracks. Of the studio tracks ‘conjuration ov sleep daemons’ is a brutal and unforgiving track that showcases much of what is best about Behemoth – punishing drums, chugging guitars and Nergal’s instantly recognisable vocals. Recorded during the ‘zos kia cultus’ sessions, the song captures much of the raw energy the band poured into that ground breaking record and is a welcome addition to any Behemoth collection. ‘Wish’, originally recorded by nine inch nails, is a worthy cover indeed although it deviates far less radically from the original than you might imagine and it ends up a respectful, and only marginally heavier, cover that is worth a listen but not as essential as the band’s own material although the closing guitar solo is blistering. Also on the receiving end of a behemoth-style battering is Venom’s ‘welcome to hell’ which gets a turbo-charged kicking which is no mean thing considering that the original was no shrinking violet. The remainder of the disc showcases tracks recorded at Poland’s 2001 Mystic festival and although a track-by-track review is unnecessary, the quality of the recording is certainly praiseworthy and captures the fraught intensity of the behemoth live experience.
The second disc highlights a band who had already moved on and the title track was a blistering highlight of the ‘demigod’ album, as evidenced by the fact that it is still one of the band’s most popular live tracks. Included twice here, once as a studio track and once live from the Sweden rock festival, listeners also get ‘entering the pylon ov light’ which was recorded during the Demigod sessions but didn’t make the final cut and two more covers – ‘penetration’ (originally by The Nefilim) and ‘until you call on the dark’ (originally by danzig) which again emphasise the respect Behemoth have for their sources whilst offering nothing earth-shattering in the way of interpretation. The live tracks, meanwhile, are well recorded and satisfyingly augment the already generous track-listing on disc one. Couple this with the astounding packaging and you have something of a treat for fans of the band and newcomers alike.
Overall this is one hell of an alluring package. If you didn’t catch the EPs upon release, or only caught up with one of them, the extra tracks and stunning packaging are reason enough to buy this beautiful reissue, hell even if you do have both originals it’s pretty tempting, and the quality of the music on offer, the range of covers and the array of live material is certainly manna from the depths of hell for fans of a band who just seem to improve with every release. A devilish delight from the Polish titans and a treat for those awaiting the next release with anticipation.