Rewarded for the widespread acclaim of Zos Kia Cultus, Poland’s Behemoth were promoted from Olympic Records to the big daddy, Century Media and also arguably surpassed Vader as Poland’s most important extreme export. So how do you follow that kind of success up? You don’t. You merely deliver what’s expected and continue with the sound that got you there rather than force some sort of progression, and that essentially sums up Demigod. Initially disappointing as a follow up to the lauded Zos Kia Cultus and the long lasting residue that album leaves on your metal psyche, Demigod takes some considerable time to develop its own personality, but when you finally do accept it as just a superb, stand alone death metal album rather than expect it to surpass its predecessor, the album soon reaches the expected level of brilliance.

Granted, this album has a few glaring flaws upon the first few listens; an almost ‘overproduced’ sound, Nergal’s vocals are way to layered and artificial, and the slightly forced, Nile like Middle Eastern development of the sound stymies some of the band’s character (not surprising considering that Karl Sanders delivers some guest guitars). With all that being said, the album still smokes on the strength of the vast array of riffs being force fed to the listener. Ranging from the blunt force trauma of blistering tracks like opener “Sculpting the Throne Ov Seth”, the swirling maelstroms of seething Arabic atmospherics of “Towards Babylon” and the title track (truly enforcing the Nile-ish comparison) or the pummeling, lurching gait of Behemoth at their best as heard on “Conquer All” and the album closing highlight, “The Reign ov Shemu-Hor”, the sheer amount of teeth grinding, fist clenching riffs is astounding.

Admittedly, after the first few listens, there are no immediate classics like “As Above So Below” or the prior album’s massive title track (Demigod’s title track is rather average), but attentive listening reveals a larger amount of slightly better songs and riffs as opposed to the prior albums smaller amount of utterly phenomenal riffs. Of course, the entire effort is rooted in Morbid Angel worship, just glossed with a mechanical, echoe filled production that isn’t as forceful or rigid as Zos Kia Cultus and is truthfully, a strange, organic and pliant sound. But that doesn’t stop Demigod from being a fine, fine example of death metal at its best, and considering the aforementioned flaws, is a major testament to Nergal and Co.’s song crafting skill.

Main man Nergal is flanked by two of the more underrated performers of the genre in new bassist Orion and drummer Inferno. Both back Nergal’s twisting serpentine riffs and esoteric solos with a sturdy if unspectacular backdrop, and Orion’s presence is actually lessened by the malleable Daniel Bergstrand production as he simply throbs menacingly in the background of most of the songs. Inferno dutifully pounds his kit and is far more of a presence during the albums superb crawling segments such as the slithering “Mysterium Coniunctionis (Hermanubis)”. Still, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, because as a three piece, with ample post studio mastering Behemoth delivers a sound far greater than they should be capable of.

I don’t think you will find Demigod on as many year end lists, simply due to its predecessors impact, but on its own merit Demigod is a superb album that cements Behemoth as one of death metal finest and more importantly consistent acts.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
January 15th, 2005


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