Behemoth – Opvs Contra Natvram: Album Review

Thirty years as masters of extreme Metal – Behemoth rise again to brandish a flame that still burns fiercely.

Release Date: 16th September

Label: Nuclear Blast

Format: digital / CD / vinyl – numerous options on CD/vinyl packages

And over those thirty years Behemoth has set up a legacy to live up to in terms of not only the commitment to their musical integrity but the whole packaging and presentation of their oeuvre. Is there anyone to touch them? Would anyone dare? The Satanist might be their definitive statement but let’s agree that Opvs Contra Natvram is a worthy addition.

It feels bizarre to be listening to Behemoth on a bright Autumnal morning. Ideally, it would be in the sort of pitch black ruins of their In Absentia Dei film, shadows cast by flickering flames of torchlight and with a heightened sense of trepidation. Or, balanced perilously atop the Palace Of Culture with drones overheard capturing the spectacle as they premier their new material. One that’s enhanced however by the tone-setting ambience of Post God Nirvana. Like the entry of the gladiators, fully aware of the imminent onslaught that’s set to be done.

That comes via a familiar battering and the devastation of The Deathless Sun, complete with fist-pumping declarations – “I am nothing, Without him, nothing is” – and demonic chants. Dramatic power chording underpins the allegiance to the power of the ruthless Zephyr. Nergal, the unholy preacher, leading the snarling prayers – the “thundering tremors to whip the storm” – that pass as his sermon amidst the brutality.

The frenzied maelstrom is typically strong, foot to the floor as they head hell bent for leather with Disinheritance yet digging deeper and posing the challenging question, how do Behemoth avoid the stage of being a one trick pony? There has been talk that includes the dreaded word accessibility. Has Behemoth ever done compromise? Not the remotest of chances, yet you can see there are several moments on which to reflect.

Neo Spartacus and Off To War! might well gravitate towards more accessible Thrash and there’s a tasty riff – bit of a stomper that burns into the brain in all honesty – that forms the core of Once Upon A Pale Horse – should it be less apparent, we’re treated to a dose of said riff over the last ten seconds. One that John Petrucci might churn out to firghten his bandmates in Dream Theater.

A few smiles or wonderful mental images are conjured up as Nergal screams about the “forlorn mutt” in Ov My Herculean Exile and the call to “stone Shakespeare for the heresy ov his scrawl” in the huge drama of the album closer Versus Christos. The latter is one of those songs where the tempos are more controlled and are perhaps the most ominous. The anticipation when a delicate touch is applied; the usual ferocity tempered by minor key piano respite as the apocalypse dawns, the sun turning cold.

In a more user friendly coating, are we suggest that OCV could act as the gateway opus to Behemoth’s world? An opportunity for those who feel that Behemoth offer something within their realms and be drawn in. Opvs Contra Natvrum sees Behemoth solidify, even build upon, a position of strength

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