Opvs Contra Natvram

Nergal, the controversial frontman for black/death mainstays Behemoth is basically that kid in school who everybody thinks is kind of aloof, doesn’t talk to anyone, and people somehow like. That is until he gets his license, drives by you in his new convertible his parents bought him with the top down, hair flowing, listening to metal, but also looking you in the eyes and flipping you off. That kind of guy gets, as the kids say these days “haters.” Nergal thrives off the hate. Just go to his Instagram and you’ll see him being an antagonist to people who try to call him out for not being kvlt enough. The guy is living his best life and rubbing your nose in it. So is Behemoth.

If you’ve not been a fan of the band’s output since Evangelion, this new one won’t change your mind. If you have, though, I have a feeling this will cement your fan status.

After a strong yet expected intro that paints Nergal as the orator of the apocalypse, “Malaria Vvlgata” kicks off sounding a lot like, well Behemoth. It’s barely over 2 minutes of a blackened death whirlwind and almost serves as an intro track for “The Deathless Sun,” which starts out with the main hook, then a quick lead before the first official verse. Nergal’s unique bellows are in fine form, Orion’s bass parts are distinguishable in the mix, but Inferno’s drums are the driving force. This song has literally everything you could possibly want in a Behemoth track.

Maybe it’s just me, but I felt their most recent album I Loved You at Your Darkest, lacked a lot of the danger, sense of foreboding, and overall heaviness from which they have become known. While calling ILYAYD a letdown wouldn’t be correct, I did find myself hoping for a return to form of sorts, and tracks like “Neo-Spartacvs” bring a lot of that back. It’s certainly about as straightforward as it gets with a Behemoth track, which some may call safe, but it’s not completely devoid of experimentation or excellent moments. For example, at around the 1:30 mark, only the bass and drums are grooving along sans guitars. While it is certainly a prototypical selection, it’s nevertheless compelling.

While it does bear mentioning that the first half of the album is better and more immediate, there are still highlights in the second half, such as the closer, “Versvs Christvs.” Half sung/half spoken vocals begin the track, which is a nice change of pace from the usual bellows, but of course those come in. Slightly less than halfway through, the spoken vocals come back with a solo piano. That doesn’t last. Some choir vocals make an appearance alongside blasting later, and when the guitar solo kicks in, the production shines.

I know I summed it up before by stating that wherever you stand on Behemoth, this will not change your mind. However, for those of us who enjoy the band, this one is quite enjoyable. While I don’t believe it to be Albvm of the Year material, I know I will be continuing to listen to it throughout the year. Cheers to Nergal and company. Also, put on some pants in your Instagram photos, please.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
September 26th, 2022


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