It would be a simple thing to talk about The Satanist in terms of Nergal’s bout with leukemia, how in the face of sickness and death he found it within himself to create a towering work of death metal fury, the rage and volume a shout against his condition, his mortality, and his reliance on a higher power. I’m pretty sure a ton of magazines and sites did just that. But coming to the album, and to Behemoth years later, I’m left with the realization that – as solid as the metal is, and as good as The Satanist is – I don’t see myself reaching for this or any of the albums when I’m in need of a loud death metal fix.
I’d be lying if I said it was completely due to his behavior or the things he’s been accused of over the years. Those things certainly play a part, and they should: I struggle daily with the extent to which I separate the art from the artist. The line that is drawn is different for everything and everyone, and I can only make sure that I am truly following my principles.
So leaving that aside, all that’s left is the music, and taking all of my collected Behemoth records in at one time left me with the insight that Behemoth was, for me, an excellent entryway into a lot of extreme music. And that taken as a whole there’s not enough variety or punch to really make me crave listening to an entire album again. Is The Satanist Behemoth’s strongest album? There are a few tracks that speak to the claim: “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” is a killer opener, and “Messe Noire,” “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer” and the title track are standouts. But (and you can probably make this complaint for all of metal) after a while it all blends together into a mash that refuses to stand out in my mind. I like the songs where I hear them, but aside from “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” I can’t remember how a single song goes.
Hey! If you’re interested I did review Behemoth’s latest I Loved You At Your Darkest over at Nine Circles. It’s safe to say I wasn’t a fan.