Behemoth
Zos Kia Cultus (Here and Beyond)

Behemoth’s gradual transition from cult black metal to world-class death metal outfit is not characterized by one album, but through the maturation of four. Unlike many Polish bashers (Decapitated, Hate, etc.) where Vader is the primary inspirational source, Behemoth, mining the strengths of Morbid Angel, Slayer and recently Nile, forge a high-energy, strikingly confident style that’s distinctly their own. Hinted on Pandemonic Incantations, tested on Satanica and realized on Thelema.6, Behemoth prove that older is wiser, and in death metal where creative sparks fizzle quickly there’s no stopping a band with equal amounts of ambition and talent.

Zos Kia Cultus (Here and Beyond) distills years of experience into an effort that bears the hallmarks of the genres they’ve blended (death and black metal) while not relying wholeheartedly on them; songwriting skill and superb musicianship pushes sight and sound beyond that of most bands this far into the game. “Horns ov Baphomet” and “Here and Beyond’s” quick tempo shifts and songwriting smarts are Morbid Angel (riffing; drumming) and Nile (drumming; riffing) refined. Not entirely deferential as one might think, Behemoth treat such familiar traits as Entombed did Autopsy – with respect. Certainly, people don’t confuse Entombed for Autopsy, nor should Behemoth be with their stateside influences.

Guitarists Nergal and Havoc are unsung string-burners; speed, technicality and, yes, actual riffs are at their immediate disposal. In fact, there’s not a moment on Zos Kia Cultus (Here and Beyond) when the duo aren’t rifling off sick riffs. As “The Harlot of the Saints,” “No Sympathy for Fools,” “Zos Kia Cultus” and “Modern Iconoclasts” indicate, riffs are serpentine, menacing, atmospheric or march-like, each one exuding remarkable strength and purpose from one transition to the next. Where Nergal and Havoc differ from their peers, however, is in their soloing, which bears the mark of Skolnick or Hanneman. On a similar note, Behemoth’s rhythmic foundation, drummer Inferno and bassist Novy (Devilyn), is just as solid. Inferno is deft and occasionally locks into a groove (“As Above So Below”) that shows it’s not just speed that defines a formidable death metal drummer. Novy isn’t as noticeable as Thelema.6 (think “Inauguration of the Scorpio Dome”), but keeping in step with guitars and drums in this capacity is no mean feat.

Zos Kia Cultus (Here and Beyond) in read and look is reminiscent of early ’90s death metal. Its blend of Near East (Sumerian, Egyptian) occult theory and imagery is authentic; perhaps not as historical as Nile, Nergal’s mystical prose is, however, more than lines stolen from the Necronomicon. Empowered by a great voice (Nergal), the lyrical cadence takes on meaning and could very well be ancient spells.

If there’s a downside to Zos Kia Cultus (Here and Beyond), it’s in the drum production. Overall, the Hendrix Studios production is flawless, but Inferno’s drums aren’t powerful and jarring; they’re over-produced and lacking in human touch. This type of enthusiasm and flawlessness (to a fault) diminished the impact of Gateways to Annihilation and many other top-level death metal albums. Otherwise, Behemoth, like before, have crafted a fine album that should lift the “former Eastern Bloc” yoke once and for all. Whether it’s Poland or Mongolia, death metal like this transcends geographic boundaries. Zos Kia Cultus (Here and Beyond) is just amazing.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Chris Dick
October 28th, 2002

Comments

  1. Commented by: fightingmike

    This is my favorite Behemoth record by far! The “Raining Blood on Crack” opening riff of Horns of Baphomet is epic and the rest of the record follows suit. I like that there is alot of tempo variety here to keep things less boring than the blastfest of Nile and i like that Nergal’s vocals are clear and decipherable, which is a rare thing in growly death metal. Also, I love the guitar tones on here, ultra heavy, but natural sounding and warm. I do tend to get a bit bored of this record, as with most death metal, towards the last few songs, but i think this is a very strong record.


  2. Commented by: Reviews › Behemoth – Evangelion › Teeth of the Divine

    […] Behemoth peaked with Zos Kia Cultus and while I enjoyed Demigod and The Apostasy, the band’s gradually increased nods towards […]


  3. Commented by: Old Pick Axe

    Easily one of the best death metal albums ever released. It’s up there with Morbid Angel’s “Covenant”, Deicide’s “Once Upon The Cross” and Entombed’s “Wolverine Blues” as far as greatness factor goes. Songs like “Horns Ov Baphomet,” “As Above, So Below,” and “Heru Ra Ha: Let There Be Might” are absolute destroyers. All hail Behemoth.


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