When something is so rigidly stuck in the proverbial middle of the road, it is difficult to describe. This is unfortunately exemplified by the Polish blackened death metal trio Behemoth’s tenth studio offering The Satanist (2014). Guitarist and lead vocalist Nergal’s leukemia battle, among other issues, have resulted in a five-year gap in the band’s discography, and so this record is positioned as a comeback. Regrettably, the overdone production and lacklustre compositions underwhelm fairly consistently throughout.

The album starts promisingly enough with the theatrical “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel” and the best track on the record “Furor Divinus”. From there, The Satanist becomes an incoherent mess of forgettable riffs and corny half-baked conceptual phrases. The album weaves traditional mid-tempo black metal rhythms and progressions with gaudy hyper fast blast-beat laden death metal, reminiscent of the later works of Septic Flesh. These styles are best used independently, and because they are not, they become jarring and less impactful when constantly blended. The double kick spamming buzz saw sound Behemoth has cultivated over the years only served to distract from some truly progressive and groove oriented phrases that build upon the black metal sound at the band’s roots.

All told, it’s difficult to recall any particular sonic landmarks from the album. It is a shame this record has far more hype than it deserves, which is based on the band’s personal life as opposed to the music, and is more disappointing for it.

By Tanner Wolff

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