Behemoth – In Absentia Dei: Album Review

Behemoth release In Absentia Dei; their lockdown streaming event which takes their musical and aesthetic presentation to brand new levels.

Release date: 17th December 2021

Label: Nuclear Blast

Format: CD / CD+Blu-Ray / CD+DVD / 3LP

Behemoth are not a band to do things by halves. During the pandemic there have been countless front room gigs and streams from artists to provide entertainment and comfort; Behemoth pulled people together their virtual congregation from all corners of the globe to an abandoned church in rural Poland for a show of collective strength and black metal magic.

In Absentia Dei is a document of the bands streamed performance from 2020. Musically and aesthetically, this release really is something special. With a setlist culled from a vast discography, the band showcase their power and strength in spades.

Broken into four acts, In Absentia Dei opens with the band riding forth to their destination to being their blasphemous observation. Through a fiery arch the four members of the band enter with smoke shimmering at their feet. This kind of imagery is paramount to the production. Pyrotechnics reign throughout and some of the imagery created with actors is truly disturbing. You can see the blood (literally), sweat and fear that is poured into the performance. A loose narrative sees Nergal shift between costumes showing a different layer of demonic possession in each act. The backdrop for the service is truly resplendent; cinematically, it is awe inspiring seeing the church lit up amongst the rural setting.

Musically, In Absentia Dei pulls on music from the vast catalogue of Behemoth. Evoe, taken from the bands recent EP, A Forest, opens up proceedings. Mysticism abounds before the crashing sound of the band erupts. This eruption continues for the duration of the event. Wolves Ov Siberia from I Loved You At Your Darkest follows and shows the modern tenure of the band superbly.

From the modern, the band dip right back to their earliest material with From The Pagan Vastlands. The song hadn’t been performed for many years. This is also true of Prometherion from 2007’s LP, The Apostasy. Act II contains a good mix of old and new with Antichristian Phenomenon and the modern classic, Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel. The latter is a truly amazing piece of work. For anyone that saw the original and uncensored video to this song, you will know how much emphasis is put on the visual world of Behemoth – the band never compromise.

One of the finest moments of In Absentia Dei comes during Act II in Nergal’s message prior to Conquer All. His greeting and message of defiance to the ‘legions’ makes this feel so wildly inclusive whilst being an event that is unmistakably global.

As the production grows, the band flit between all aspects of their career in celebratory fashion. You can tell that the band are impassioned with their artistic vision throughout and commit to it wholeheartedly. No stone is left unturned in delivering a performance for the ages. Given the freedom to create in this way, Behemoth have raised and reset the bar for audio/visual presentation.

In Absentia Dei is mind blowing on many levels. It will wow, it will make you wince, it could offend but ultimately it offers an unparalleled artistic vision of blasphemy.

Check out Bartzabel from In Absentia Dei below.

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