Behemoth - Demigod

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Century Media
Catalog Number: CEN 8241
Format: CD
Total Time: 41:05:00

Behemoth are a trio, not unlike Rush, ELP... Oh, wait a minute. That's not right. First of all, there's no keys. And second of all, Behemoth are a brutal metal band of the black or death variety. But they are a trio. And like Rush's Neil Peart, the composers -- Nergal and Krzysztof Azarewicz -- write pieces that have, in some cases, literary connections. The mythos surrounding the concept here in Demigod includes references to a race or civilization that pre-dates ancient Egypt. I couldn't help but think of the mythos behind the Stargate series, but I'd venture to say Behemoth's take on the mythos is far more seriously intense and personal. I'm sure they'd argue that the shows are mere entertainment and they're concerned with the factual (or "factual") origins.

You'd think then, music genre aside, that Nergal and Azarewicz want their lyrics clearly heard and understood. However, this being of the black/death metal variety we get ... Well, you know how, in movies at least, the "bad guys" will disguise their voices so they can't be identified ... that's how Nergal sounds. It's a voice that rises up from the deepest pits of hell, and it sounds like he's trying to sing through a mask. Well, not sing exactly, recite. It's not singing. You can't tell a word he's saying - but hey, the same could be said of a lot of "clean" vocalists, too ... those of the mumble-mumble variety. He's no cookie monster, it goes beyond, waaay beyond, that. That's part and parcel for the genre, so I'm not dismissing this being what it is. Actually, it gets a little clearer, relatively speaking, a more like a super-growly Seb Bach at the end of "Mysterium Coniunctionis (Hermanubis)". (Though he isn't, you'd expect Nergal to be a burly... behemoth ... of a man, not unlike a wrestler in the WWE, hairy and heavily bearded ... or would that be bearded and heavily hairy?)

That said, what do we get musically? Well, at times I thought of Metallica where the twisting, turning guitar phrases are concerned (that's Nergal, too). Oh, but soooo much darker than Metallica. This is super crunchy, lots of double bass work, as Inferno assaults his drum kit mostly with machine-gun rapid speed. It's not only double bass, and they are integrated with how he uses the rest of the kit... but don't expect any real subtlety here. They do have a warm sound, which makes them appealing in the whole. There are, believe it or not, acoustic textures here amongst the bludgeoning riffs (attributable to guest/session guitarist Seth, who plays other leads, too) - such as that which opens the album, "Sculpting The Throne ov Seth," and a brief interlude at the end of "The Nephilim Rising"... before we get beaten to a bloody pulp with the savage attack of "Towards Babylon." And just to make sure you are well and truly obliterated there's "Before Aeons Came" - pummeling double bass will smack you upside both sides of your head while your face is being slammed against the concrete. Can't say that about Yes now can you?

The best aspect is Nergal's often sinewy lines in the infrequent guitar solos that swirl up out of the dense machinery - but then I love guitar solos. They take on a middle-eastern cast during a short solo burst in the title track. But, I have to say, Inferno does make a lot of use of his whole kit. Don't really hear much of Orion's bass work, either it is crushed beneath the weight of the drums or too closely aligned with the guitar. Well, I shouldn't say you can't hear it, it just doesn't become a separate element in the mix. Guest Karl Sanders plays a solo during "XUL." It's a piece were we get a series of searing solos, the first from Seth, the second from Nergal, and the final from Sanders.

"Slaves Shall Serve" begins as if they're going to get tribal... maybe break into a extreme metal version of "I Eat Cannibals" ... somehow it'd be funnier if Yes did that, actually. But no, more metal brutality ensues, bone crushing and pulverizing for sure, but your remains will not be consumed by a human. In fiery flames, perhaps, but...

This is a short CD at just a little over 40 minutes, but it might seem longer, only because this trio pack a lot into each piece. Most pieces are in the 3 - 5 minute range, the longest being the 8-plus minute closer "The Reign Ov Shemsu-Hor." Here, for the intro, everything is throttled back a bit, given a bit of texture. Guitars and bass chug in lockstep with and between the drums. It's a bit darkly medieval in feel... and pretty cool... both in that I envision dark, damp and chilly cave walls and that I think it's pretty neat.

Our mailing list subscribers and folks to whom we send out update notices to through E-Prog and the like, will have noted - maybe - that this title has been on my "currently listening to" list for a while, but I don't want to leave them, or you, dear reader, with the impression that this particular CD has been stuck in my player for the past year. It has not. It's just been... in the rotation as I tried to figure out what to say about it. I guess it's a perverse thrill to feel the total sonic assault, to let those inner demons out and just howl and growl like one being tortured.

It's an impressive album. You can probably guess that I care nothing for the vocals - I don't - but that aside, I rather like this... strange as it may seem. I find a lot of times these metal bands are progressive in their own way. These are not easy going 4/4 rockers, for example, and you can hear complex progressions and interactions - words we might use to describe Yes. I'm picking out Yes here mainly because they'd be at the opposite end of the prog scale - light, lyrical, sweet and clear vocals. But these kinds bands don't get that kind of recognition from folks outside the scene because of the vocals, and the impression that's just endless straight chugging and double-bassing. Oh, I'm trying to squeeze out some justification for this band to appear on these pages; I truly think we should include some - perhaps not all - bands in this genre in the broader progressive music spectrum (which is why our tagline doesn't say just "progressive rock")

Since this isn't my primary genre, I'll opt out of rating it... However, fan reaction seems to rate this in the 4 - 5 star range... and my thinking was in that range as well.

Sculpting The Throne Ov Seth (4:41) / Demigod (3:31) / Conquer All (3:29) / The Nephilim Rising (4:17) / Towards Babylon (3:21) / Before Aeons Came (2:58) / Mysterium Coniunctionis (Hermanubis) (3:40) / XUL (2:54) / Slaves Shall Serve (3:04) / The Reign Ov Shemsu-Hor (8:26)

Inferno - drums
Nergal - guitars, vocals
Orion - bass


Seth - session guitar
Karl Sanders - guitar solo (8)

And The Forests Dream Eternally (ep) (1993)
Sventevith (Storming Near The Batlic) (1995/1996)
Grom (1996)
Bewitching The Pomerania (ep) (1997)
Pandemonic Incantations (1998/1999)
Satanica (1999/2000)
Antichristian Phenomenon (ep) (2000)
Thelema.6 (2000/2001)
Zos Kia Cvltvs (2002/2003)
Conjuration (2003)
Demigod (2004/2005)

Live Eschaton (2000) (VID)
Crush Fukk Create (2004) (DVD)

Genre: Other

Origin NL

Added: January 5th 2006
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow

Artist website:
Hits: 1382
Language: english


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