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Poland’s masters of the dark arts Behemoth have released their eleventh album, tantalisingly titled I Loved You At Your Darkest, derived from the biblical passage Romans 5:8.
In the wake of their epically successful 2014 album The Satanist, Behemoth have stepped away from the sheer sonic austerity of those blackened anthems to offer a sublimely experimental interpretation of their satanic agenda.
While tracks such as Wolves Ov Siberia have a pretty classic black metal leaning, longstanding Behemoth fans would have already begun to embrace the direction towards more inventive, spacious compositions apparent on The Satanist. I Loved You At Your Darkest continues this trajectory, moving into tracks with quite varied sequences mixed with black metal elements.
Most noticeable are the addition of choirs, which are the most effective in two of the most segmented tracks, Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica and Sabbath Mater, which both also showcase very rock-influenced moody extended solos. The unhinged despair ridden through these tracks speaks to Behemoth’s notorious critique of the Catholic Church, firing on issues such as hypocrisy and terminal decline.
If one can unshackle Behemoth from stylistic expectations, I Loved You At Your Darkest offers a complex journey through the inversions and grotesques of satanic absurdity.
If one can unshackle Behemoth from stylistic expectations, I Loved You At Your Darkest offers a complex journey through the inversions and grotesques of satanic absurdity. This is most apparent in standout track Havojeh Pantocrator (that is, ‘Jehovah’, reversed). The ritualism and symbolism of Behemoth’s satanism is in ample supply, with the strongest tracks dedicated to summoning the ancient warlike demon Bartzabel with a rhythmic, sparse construction that nonetheless is overwhelmingly aggressive, and an unnerving ode to the thirteenth Watcher of the legion of fallen angels, the ‘shadow of God’ from the apocryphal Book of Enoch, in Angelvs XIII.
The final two tracks, We Are The Next 1000 Years and sinister militant instrumental Coagula, lend the album an apocalyptic feel. I Loved You At Your Darkest does pull away from the overall coherency of themes found in The Satanist, but this evasiveness of doctrine is in itself the point–it heralds chaotic, asymmetric, unholy decline.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Angelvs XIII, Havohej Pantrocrator, Bartzabel.
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