Behemoth - _Demigod_
(Regain Records, 2004)
by: Jackie Smit (9 out of 10)
There's a stark urgency to the acoustic intro that greets the listener at the start of this effort that is almost ironic considering the position that Behemoth currently find themselves in. Seven albums into a career that has seen the band go from primitive black metal upstarts to a progressively more threatening death metal juggernaut, it's apparent that for the Polish quartet this is going to be the record that either sees them relegated to mid-level contenders for good, or the one that finally elevates them to the upper tier, where they get to play with the big boys.

Notwithstanding of course the daunting precedent set by their last effort, _Zos Kia Cultus_, the aforementioned task is one which Behemoth seem to have taken very seriously, breaking out the big guns in order to scale its lofty heights -- the first of which is the recruitment of Daniel Bergstrand (Strapping Young Lad, In Flames, etc.) to man the producer's chair. This proves to have been a thoroughly inspired decision from the moment that the mayhem kicks off on "Sculpting the Throne Ov Seth", as Bergstrand obviously has a much clearer understanding of what makes Behemoth such an alluring beast. Subsequently, this record is not only heavier on the guitars, but the overall mix has also been beefed up considerably, giving the band a more layered and ultimately more crushing sound.

The immediate impact of _Demigod_ is not merely down to clever production however: Nergal's searing rasp steamrolls songs like "Conquer All" forward ruthlessly, while Inferno's drum performance is nothing short of inhuman. The band's widely documented (and often criticised) musical connections to Morbid Angel and particularly Nile are still very evident, but here as well Behemoth's greatly improved sense of dynamics goes some way toward denegrating the presence of these influences. "The Nephilim Rising" is a prime example where the band successfully manages to drop things down a gear or two, whilst still keeping every ounce of the album's intensity intact.

That said, the pointless meandering of "Mysterium Coniunctionis (Hermanubis)" does stunt the album's momentum somewhat, and it is only two songs foward on "Slaves Shall Serve" that the band seem to regain focus properly. Likewise "The Reign Ov Shemsu-Hor" may not be as epic as it would like to imagine it is, although it does nevertheless succeed in rounding off the album on a suitably heavy note.

There's certainly no denying that _Demigod_'s fourty minutes make a strong case to argue Behemoth's breakthrough to the next level. Indeed this record is easily one of the death metal highlights of 2004, despite the band's increasing battle to keep the momentum going during the record's latter half. Now let's hope that Nergal and co are able to realise the higher stakes next time round.


(article published 19/10/2004)

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