If anything, The Satanist is an album that beckons repeated listens and may finally push Behemoth to the top tier of metal bands.
There are dozens of the little things that one would instantly recognize as the signature Behemoth sound; the blastbeats, operatic elements and black metal tinge that always put them a cut above needlessly fast bands like Nile and Suffocation. But the album boasts numerous new elements that suggests The Satanist will be the game changer in Behemoth's career.
The intro and first single 'Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel' brings in a full-fledged doom metal approach that was merely flirted with on the previous album 'Evangelion'. The tinkering of tempos might baffle the cultists who lust for Behemoth's usual brute force, but this new found maturity in song writing makes the album a grower rather than one that pummels you on first listen- before you get bored of it. The solos are even soulful on songs like 'Messe Noire', a strange way to end one of the faster songs on the album. Speaking of fast, 'Amen' is Behemoth's most punishing track ever put to tape (yes!). Elsewhere, there are clean vocals on the closing track 'O Father O Satan O Sun!' (albeit autotuned, but given the vocalist, is that really unreasonable?). In fact, the final track is a sing-along track that echoes 80s industrial and goth music, not surprising given Behemoth's cover songs in the past, but somehow in its cheesy chorus interlaced between tribal drums, tremolo picked riffs and synthesizers, it sounds refreshing coming from a high profile death metal band.
The production on the album is fantastic despite is mediocre dynamic range (it sits at about 5 or 6). Inferno's drum tone is tribal rather than cold and harsh, and Orion's bass is extremely audible in the mix. Let me repeat, it's as audible as Geezer Butler's basslines in Black Sabbath. It's huge and funky, whether or not the music is at full speed or at mid-pace. Darski's vocals are absolutely monstrous and passionate on this album, sounding more organic than in Evangelion. The stripped down approach is a welcome direction on this album, given the other cheesy elements that pepper the songs; it would be hard to take the band seriously if they were still going for an over processed sound.
The guitar tone is great but the solos are still lacking even if they try to be melodic than in their last few albums. Lyrically, the band is still not very intelligent, though Behemoth was never a band know for its poetry. I think it's more than enough that the band still still sounds good despite its tired subject matter.
All in all, the album is great. Not a classic. But sonically an album that is retrospective and varied enough to unite fans who have been divided by the band's experimentations and changes in sound. For me, Behemoth's debut black metal album Sventevith has always been the band's peak (please do yourself a favour and listen to it here, but The Satanist throws a different light on a band, a pleasant surprise of an album that is sure to be talked about for months to come.