Behemoth Evangelion (Metal Blade)
One thing Gdańsk-based black metal master Behemoth has never suffered from is a lack of vision. Evangelion, the latest in a masterful BM triumvirate that began in 2004 with Demigod and continued with 2007’s The Apostasy, underscores the difference between real conviction and the poorly hewn philosophical drivel that plagues too many of the genre’s releases from a lyrical standpoint. On the contrary, Adam “Nergal” Darski and co. don’t dish out anything they haven’t thoroughly chewed. Rather than trade in dime-store Satanism and eye-rolling ritual, Behemoth takes gnosticism and hammers it into a cohesive lyrical fabric that glistens like fine tinwork. It all sits atop angular riffage rivaling just about everything available in a genre that continues to expand exponentially.
A largely unsung guitar hero, Nergal deploys blast-furnace riffs and solos—the latter more often reminiscent of Eddie Van Halen than Kerry King—with surgical precision. Meanwhile the rest of the band reinforces both melody (yes, melody) and sheer brute force with all the subtlety of a well-planned carpet bombing. The resulting nine-song tome benefits from the onslaught by sounding cohesive without coming across as a series of variations on a single theme. You can actually tell the songs apart here, which, given the genre’s propensity for volume over variation, is half the battle already won.
“All hail the slain and risen god,” Nergal intones on Evangelion’s devilishly oppressive opening song. “All hail Dionysus.” And while gnosticism and Greek deity worship aren’t this writer’s philosophical or religious cup of tea, the metal that ensconces such lyrical calls to worship soaked in Nergal's thoroughly terrifying cries of defiance does inspire an interest that’s more than a passing manifestation. That’s the other half of the battle rendered a smashing victory: Evangelion is nothing if not effective in every conceivable way, even beyond a handful of carefully crafted, thoughtfully produced and sequenced album tracks. For Behemoth, it is mission 100 percent accomplished. If Evangelion suffers at all, it’s from brevity—which is saying a lot, considering most black metal records needn’t clock in at more than 34 minutes before the novelty and whatever degree of musicality begins to wear thin.