Behemoth, (consisting of drummer Inferno, bassist Orion and guitarist/vocalist Nergal) pioneers of the Polish black/death metal scene are soon to release their new album, alongside two new signature guitars and a live DVD entitled Messe Noire, after a song on The Satanist. With all said, it’s safe to say that the band are ready to deliver on a successor to their 2014 release, so let’s look back at their extensive legacy and rank albums from worst to best.
#11 – Pandemonic Incantations – (1998)
It’s a great black metal album through and through. The aggression is there, and it is harsh as anything that had proceeded it, also featuring Nergal’s most diverse and experimental guitar work up to that point. Why so low down then? While it is great, of their entire main catalogue, I find it to be the least memorable and as a result, its lack of impression delegates it to the bottom of the list.
#10 – Thelema. 6 (2000)
You certainly can’t deny the sheer level of crushing brutality on display with this album. Thelema. 6 follows directly after Satanica (more on that later) and that release is both this one’s gift and curse. On one hand, Behemoth were now a fully-fledged death metal band and finally made the transition properly, and on the other, this album followed their big experimental underground hit, with less staying power.
#9 – I Loved You At Your Darkest (2018)
I have retroactively edited this article almost two years after it was originally written to include the band’s latest offering, I Loved You At Your Darkest. This record is a very important one for me and whilst holding a very special place in my heart (I went to the launch party of the record in London on 5th October 2018 and have the album’s symbol tattooed on my right wrist) it just is not as good as some of the other albums on this list.
I love a lot of the songs and the return to their more old school black metal sound is definitely appreciated. The few times I have seen them live performing Wolves Ov Siberia or God = Dog, I am equally as blown away as when tracks like Chant for Eschaton 2000 or Conquer All destroy the set list.
Whilst a very strong album overall with some great songs and stunning art and iconography, there is no denying that this is Behemoth’s big push into the mainstream and that this is their most accessible record to date. Behemoth are touring with Slipknot, they are up there now as one of the most well known mainstream bands. I believe the band deserves all the success and fame that they are receiving, I just wish that the entire record had the strength and power of the first few tracks consistently throughout.
It has only been through years of listening to the album at this point that I have been able to fully realise my feelings towards this record. It is very difficult for me but nonetheless. Overall, a very strong black/dark metal record with some standout songs that is occasionally weighed down by softer moments and toothless production in places.
#8 – Grom (1996)
It’s an old school album born from admiration to the second wave of black metal and for that it should be commended. Grom is a great listen from front to back. The reason it does not rank any higher than this, merely is because it’s just more old school black metal-era Behemoth, which was proceeded by such classics as demo tapes; Return of the Northern Moon and the Iconic … From the Pagan Vastlands. Grom lacks that genre defining dark magic.
#7 – Satanica (1999)
The biggest leap for Behemoth since their initial debut, Satanica was the bold forward step that dragged the band out of the shadows of second wave black metal and into defining the blackened death metal approach that they would go on revolutionise. Songs such as Starspawn, Decade of Therion and Chant for Eschaton 2000 cemented their new brutally crushing identity. The riffs were heavier, Nergal’s voice was much deeper and more akin to that of Cannibal Corpse’s Chris Barnes and overall it was a game changer.
#6 – Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic) (1995)
Behemoth’s first album may be far removed from the band they became throughout the years yet Sventevith has a timeless appeal that will continue to age gracefully. Instead of the brutal instrumentals and violent lyrics of latter records, their first album was much more atmospheric and focused lyrically on Paganism and Polish history. It’s a welcome and refreshing change and to some is regarded as the best from the band. Suffers from the same crutch as Grom still, they had better black metal releases before their albums.
#5 – Zos Kia Cultus (Here and Beyond) (2002)
This album, succeeding Thelema 6, is exactly what a follow up to Satanica should have been from the start. Zos Kia Cultus is vile, Nergal’s voice was even deeper and more guttural than had previously been heard, their guitar and bass tone was viciously bass-heavy, and the production was leagues above anything that came before. For the first time, Behemoth demonstrated a truly punishing and overbearing sound; thanks in part to some of the most aggressive drumming ever recorded. Songs like As Above So Below, No Sympathy for Fools and Horns ov Baphomet reigned in that the new death metal sound was here to stay.
#4 – Evangelion (2009)
A comfortable blackened death metal release following a successful streak of solid albums, Evangelion, to some, was too safe to innovate as prior titles had. It’s true; this album does not innovate but it refines a formula to a mirror shine and is flawlessly produced. The album follows masterfully and features, up to that point, the most technical and groove-heavy guitar and bass work yet. Daimonos is a monolithic opening track that pelts listeners with Nergal’s powerful vocals and Orion’s best drumming yet, The Seed Ov I tells a story of a man becoming a God and let’s just say there’s a very good reason why Ov Fire and the Void continues to close live shows to this day, it’s just that good.
#3 – The Satanist (2014)
Behemoth’s most recent album and a game changer not only for the depth of musical composition but for the story behind it. This was both Behemoth’s come back after an almost five-year absence, but also Nergal’s triumphant victory over his battle with Leukaemia. His battle with cancer is reflected in the vulnerability of the lyrics on display; especially noticeable in the title track and the songs In the Absence ov Light and the album closer O Father O Satan O Sun. It’s a little slower than prior albums, it’s still aggressive and powerful, but more mature and artistic overall. A beast of a different class.
#2 – The Apostasy (2007)
This album was fearsome and reflected everything that Behemoth had learned from their death metal releases (excluding one but we’ll get to that) and filed it all down to a razor sharp fine point. At the Left Hand ov God, Slaying the Prophets of Isa, Be Without Fear and Christgrinding Avenue all display Nergal otherworldly growl and the constant onslaught from Orion and Inferno as the entire trio decimate with fast, heavy death metal. It’s not their most technical, but its about the groove of the music and its entrancing level of violence is enthralling beginning to end.
#1 – Demigod (2004)
Take the brutality of Zos Kia Cultus and The Apostasy and combine it with the craftsmanship and refinements of Evangelion and The Satanist and you get Demigod. It truly is brutality perfected and managed to balance the chaotic death metal riffing with Nergal’s inhuman demonic growl in a way that has not quite been heard before or since. This was the time where the band were experimenting with foreign instruments such as sitars and other Eastern cultural strings to craft a sound that all culminates together into an immeasurable experience of grandiose proportions where Behemoth truly lived up to their namesake.