Behemoth - _The Apostasy_
(Regain Records, 2007)
by: Jackie Smit (8.5 out of 10)
Oh, how the times they are a-changin'. It's highly unlikely that Bob Dylan had the proliferation of Behemoth's firebrand blackened death metal in mind when he penned his classic tune, but nobody could reasonably have seen this coming ten years ago. Indeed, rewind back to the inception of the Ozzfest, and the notion of a band of their ilk being allowed near the stage with anything other than a ticket stub would have been very hard to fathom.

Yet, cue 2007 and Nergal's boys have cracked it; spreading their unholy message to legions of drunken punters across the length and breadth of God's country. A funny irony it would seem for a number of reasons; not least of all the fact that their eighth foray into the studio doesn't carry so much as the faintest hint of self-consciousness or a stilted need to conform. Far from it: _The Apostasy_ is easily one of the most assured offerings to bear the Behemoth moniker to date.

Taking its cue from _Demigod_'s yen for hyper-speed licks and marrying it into a more densely woven tapestry of atonal riffing and melodic crescendos proves to be the tip of the iceberg. Notwithstanding a decidedly more competent production job underpinning the band's often-unhinged onslaught, "At the Left Hand ov God" seamlessly balances its brutal method against an expanse of choirs, keyboards and acoustic guitars. "Inner Sanctum" ascends to similarly apocalyptic atmospheres as Nevermore's Warrell Dane, in unsurprisingly demented form, steps up for a guest appearance.

But for all that's going on around him, it is Behemoth's enigmatic frontman who remains the central figure throughout _The Apostasy_'s duration; his unmistakably grating voice sounding out over his troops' onslaught like a Roman general commanding his legions into sure and merciless victory. Only album closer "Christgrinding Avenue" manages to lower the tone slightly, but by this time Behemoth have once again proven ad nauseam that their success is well deserved, and perhaps more cogently, achieved purely on their own terms.


(article published 9/9/2007)

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