I Loved You At Your Dark­est NU­CLEAR BLAST Ner­gal’s black/death jug­ger­naut joins a new pan­theon of gods

Metal Hammer (UK) - - Contents - CHRIS CHANTLER

Be­he­moth, Tom Morello, Beartooth, Chthonic, Devildrive­r, Soulfly, our Hol­low, our Home, Shin­ing (Nor), Those Damn Crows and many more un­dergo the Ham­mer trial by fire.

If you’ve been

into metal for more than three years, you’ll know that Be­he­moth’s 10th al­bum, 2014’s The Satanist, was a break­through oc­cult opus of dizzy­ing mag­ni­tude. The most ex­treme record ever to top Metal Ham­mer’s Al­bum Of The Year poll, it crowned this Pol­ish trio’s grad­ual 20-year as­cent from corpse­painted teenage wannabes to one of the most pro­lif­i­cally bril­liant and sig­nif­i­cant forces in mod­ern ex­treme metal. Com­posed in the shadow of the leukemia treat­ment un­der­gone by found­ing singer/gui­tarist Adam ’Ner­gal’ Darski, The Satanist acted as a cor­us­cat­ing re­birth for Be­he­moth, suf­fused in a fiery at­ti­tude of no com­pro­mise. Drained by the process, Ner­gal turned his tal­ents to a much qui­eter project, Me And That Man, nurs­ing his soul with a be­guil­ing set of gothic coun­try folk-blues in 2017. With that mel­low in­tro­spec­tion out of his sys­tem, Be­he­moth have been re­ju­ve­nated again, and the ques­tion of how they can fol­low The Satanist is an­swered in heart­en­ing style: by hav­ing a bit of fun with it.

Ner­gal as­serts in the press re­lease that AC/DC are “the best band on the planet”, not­ing that 15 years ago he’d have said the same about May­hem or Mor­bid An­gel. “That,” he says, “should give you a clear in­di­ca­tion of why this al­bum is more rock-based.” But don’t go think­ing Be­he­moth have done a Black Al­bum; if Het­field had taken Ner­gal’s ap­proach to ac­ces­si­ble rock-based rein­ven­tion, Noth­ing Else Mat­ters would have had raven­ing blast­beats and ven­omous, anti-Christian blood-gar­gling over it. There is, some­how, an odd sense of balance be­tween AC/DC and May­hem in the quirky, com­pelling dy­namism of killer songs like Bartz­abel, If Cru­ci­fix­ion Was Not Enough… and tri­umphant im­pe­rial ear­worm Sab­bath Mater. Mus­cu­lar, el­e­gant ar­range­ments give rise to at­mo­spheric but in­fec­tious hooks, less com­plex but as cre­ative as ever, honks of groovy or­gan and squeal­ing melodic leads rem­i­nis­cent of a 70s live gate­fold sync­ing up with tre­ble-heavy, fin­ger-picked riffs straight out of Nor­way’s

In­ner Circle. There’s a jet-black gleam to the pro­duc­tion but with a cru­cial layer of grave­yard dirt un­der the fin­ger­nails, and a sense of dis­ori­en­tat­ing stereo mis­chief in the mix, bub­bling with the­atri­cal em­bel­lish­ments, voices trav­el­ling from ear to ear, full orches­tra and choirs go­ing full-tilt hor­ror sound­track.

It’s all loaded with such au­da­cious, sin­gu­lar force of per­son­al­ity – es­pe­cially Ner­gal’s no-hold­ing-back vo­cal per­for­mance, but equally ev­i­dent in Orion’s weight­less bass wan­der­ings and In­ferno’s tour-de-force drum bar­rage. Be­he­moth’s blud­geon­ing chops, vi­cious tem­pos and es­o­teric at­mos­pheres re­main firm, but there is a dark streak of hu­mour and a para­dox­i­cal joie de vivre run­ning through I Loved You At Your Dark­est. The ti­tle, a sim­pli­fied, con­tem­po­rary para­phrase of Christ’s words, sig­nals the band’s im­pulse to shake up the for­mula, de­vi­at­ing from their tra­di­tion of snappy, de­fin­i­tive al­bum ti­tles, adding wil­ful am­bi­gu­ity and a puck­ish de­sire to per­plex. Be­he­moth con­tinue nail­ing black and death metal si­mul­ta­ne­ously; it’s what they do. But on their 11th al­bum, these long-serv­ing mas­ter crafts­men have chan­nelled the ethos of rock gods.


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