Whether you can stand Behemoth’s aural assault or not, you’ve got to give them credit. Its been nearly two decades since they began (as a horrible black metal band, mind you), and now just look at ‘em, all grown up and ranked amongst the death metal elite. Some would brand them a Morbid Angel clone, but I say that Behemoth surpass and outshine a band like Morbid Angel, but I’d say they surpass them and have a more unique and original sound that has not been emulated by any other band to this day.
Their war-metal, blasphemous, eastern-tinged sound that they’ve introduced and honed on albums like Demigod and The Apostasy is in full force on their ninth LP Evangelion; Nergal’s vocals are as hoarse and commanding as ever, like a sorcerer summoning forth the power of the Void itself; his lyrics a dark testament to the ancient times of humanity and religion. Inferno’s drumming is as blisteringly fast as ever, with lightning fast double bass kicks, sharp, machine gun snares, and blast beats galore. On top of all that the guitars are just as technical, just as amazing, and playing those truly awesome and unique guitar riffs that we have come to associate with Behemoth.
The word that comes to mind when listening to Evangelion is majestic. The drums and guitars ebb and flow in a wave of death metal that is not only technical and brutal in its execution, but melodious and alluring, no doubt enhanced by the excellent production of the album; though I still wish the bass guitar was more audible, because their bassist is amazing, when you can hear him. Inferno’s drumming is another highlight of the band’s sound, and its some of the most chaotic and speedy, yet utterly precise drumming that I’ve ever heard. The drumming patterns that blew my mind on their previous two albums are in full force here, and its no less impressive. Equally intense are the guitars, switching from tremolo picking to death metal riffing with sheer precision and mastery; also the solos are quite nice, technical and fitting. The stunning thing about the guitar work is its ability to sound technical and heavy without losing melody and humanity; something that happens to many death metal bands. Nergal’s vocals, which range from howls to his trademark scream are overdubbed and very commanding, providing a war-chant like quality to the songs. They are the essence of Behemoth’s sound, and there is no other vocalist in the industry that can even come close to his demonic singing style. His lyrics are equally impressive, dabbling in the usual esoteric and archaic topics, adding another layer of epic to the overall sound.
Aside from the core aesthetics of the band, its the little things that really stand out; like the gang vocals on the album opener ‘Daimonos’, or the sitar outro on ‘Shemhamforash’, or the haunting breakdown on ‘The Seed Ov I’. Another surprise is the track ‘Ov Fire and The Void’ which sounds like blackened death metal filtered through a pop music sensibility, and ‘Lucifer’, a slow, plodding and haunting ending to the album. Overall, Evangelion is a more mature album in terms of songwriting and execution; a smooth progression from the sound they introduced on Demigod.
Evangelion is a testament to the band’s skill, showing us a more mature and able band who has mastered their craft of writing epic song structures, blistering blackened death metal and offering up a juicy slab of technical music that doesn’t sacrifice melody and feeling for sheer brutality. Over two decades Behemoth have gone from that uncomfortable black metal band to the blackened death metal elite, and it fits them quite nicely.