ALBUM REVIEW: Behemoth – I Loved You At Your Darkest

Let me start this write up by congratulating Behemoth for all their success ranging from continuing to providing support to Slayer, having a Death Metal album peak at 34 on the Billboard Top 200 and frontman Nergal’s recovery from leukemia. Oh, and lest we forget that not only did The Satanist makes a splash on the charts but was also one of the best albums of 2014. That’s quite the standard for new LP I Loved You At Your Darkest (Nuclear Blast/Metal Blade) to live up to.

And it certainly does meet the standard, but it goes about it in the least expected of ways. And while there is more than enough pummel, brimstone, Satanic imagery and blast beats to go around, I Loved You At Your Darkest’s focus is to explore new musical terrain. In addition to the mayhem there’s now an abundance of acoustic guitars (see ‘Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica’), choirs and melodic hooks (‘Sabbath Mater’). What I’m saying is that this just might be Behemoth’s “Black Album”.

For those who haven’t closed your browser tab to this review in sheer disgust, that wasn’t a slight towards Behemoth. Quite the opposite, really. I think I Loved You At Your Darkest is the wickedly evil siren song needed to pull in the youth and audiences currently enjoying Ghost and Motionless In White. Let’s use the dynamic acoustics of ‘Havohej Pantocrator’ and the interplay between speedy riffs and huge choruses of ‘Sabbath Mater’ to show the uninitiated they’ve been missing out on. Suddenly this newly cultured generation can appreciate the utter mastery drummer Orion effortlessly displays on ‘God = Dog’ and Nergal’s cavalcade of torrid solos unleashed onto ‘If Crucifixion Was Not Enough.’ Let them marvel at a band fully in tune with their abilities on ‘Angelvs XIII’ which makes frantic jazz bursts work within frigid black metal riffage.

This is not merely streamlining, but an expansion of sound. I’ve always known Behemoth was talented, but now I know they possess the confidence to make excellent work outside of truly Extreme Metal if they so choose to.