Review by Stephen Pedicino
The Polish giants have returned! I saw these guys mere days ago at Mayhem Fest and they did not disappoint. See for yourself with a clip I recorded (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQe0iATKpVs). Clearly, their live performance is as stellar as ever, but what can we say for Evangelion? 2007’s The Apostasy was a masterpiece of death metal and I’ve wondered how Behemoth could surpass in years to come. Ultimately, after this most recent effort, I am still left wondering (but impressed nonetheless).
“Daimonos” starts in foreboding fashion for its first minute, almost teasing you before slaying into overdrive. One thing is for certain; this band is as deadly as ever. You’ll hear dangerous rhythmic command along with Nergal’s emphatic, multilayered vocal attack all amidst machine-like percussion. The addictive chorus chant will embed itself in your memory without a problem. “All!…Hail!…Dionysus!!!” Great stuff. The middle break smoothly decelerates things with some vast solos. “Shemhamforash” (yeah, you heard me correctly) is next and features a super cool beginning. A distorted, echoing guitar compliments the acute viciousness of Inferno’s drumming while a tremolo layers the depth of the song even further. Nergal’s vox are both brutal and catchy as hell. VERY heavy stuff. A soft Arabian guitar at the end provides mitigation after you’ve been blown away by this untamed piece of music.
“Ov Fire and the Void” has been shot for a video, and from the teaser clips that have been released, I’m expecting big things. The song is probably as marketable as Behemoth can get. It’s nothing bombastic or terrifyingly brutal, but still fundamentally embodies the nature of this Polish beast. The moderated, groovy tempo may feel slow but the song moves rather briskly. Tremolos play an especially large role here. Rising choir chimes dramatically strengthen the refrain within the small segments they occupy. The track ends up as a solid, marketable balance between catchiness and musicianship. “Transmigrating Beyond Realms Ov Amenti” could be the heaviest track off Evangelion. Two words – SICK PRECISION. The instrumental logistics are beyond impressive. A shame the song has only a 3 ½ minute runtime. By the way, you’ll notice that Nergal uses increased distortion at times which mildly detracts the organic feel he usually conveys. Nothing In Flames-ish though. His vocals are also more multilayered than on The Apostasy, somewhat like on Demigod. But it’s not hard to notice that Nergal’s voice has improved since then.
The next couple of tunes both break the 5 minute mark. “He Who Breeds Pestilence” is a sophisticated track, alternating between eerie and downright violent moments. The ashen cries of a crow combined with a dry guitar immersed me the same way that parts of Demonoid’s Riders of the Apocalypse managed to. It’s an excellent mesh of Behemoth’s billowing brutality and a cold atmosphere. The creative variety of tempos dilute whatever repetitiousness one could accuse this album of having. A bold track that gets better with each second it progresses. It’ll grow on you, trust me!
The production on Evangelion is well-polished, clearer than ever, but not over-processed. You’ll get a few programmed, orchestral noises here and there; all of which are well placed. But I think it might be a while before Behemoth goes ‘symphonic.’ A criticism I have though, is that there are few guitar rhythms on the album that really stand out. This could be because the guitars are a little less amplified than on prior releases. They all support the strength of the songs very well, but there aren’t many hooks like you’d find in “Conquer All,” “Demigod,” or “Slaying the Prophets of Isa.” The framework is largely held together by raw intensity.
‘The Seed Ov I” is an adequate track that’ll take some time to grow. I can’t say much more since it offers nothing the previous tracks haven’t. A few cool solos weave their way through the middle break, but aside from that, nothing that distinguishing. “Alas, Lord is Upon Me” continues the dark energy with a hollow, desiccated tone. It kind of sounds like the leftovers from “He Who Breeds Pestilence.” Somewhat tedious and lacking in flavor. “Defiling Morality Ov Black God” is powerful but short (less than three minutes). Albeit brief, it spikes the savageness to heights not reached since ‘Transmigrating Beyond Realms Ov Amenti.” Standard Behemoth blastbeats and whipping metallic assault.
We conclude with an extended finale. The eight minute “Lucifer” is appropriately slower and more ominous, reminding me of Demonoid’s “14th Century Plague.” If you were hoping for an 1812 Overture crescendo, you won’t find it here. This track is based more around dismal ambience and that haunting, black metal feel. You’ll notice little tempo change or progression after it’s eight minutes have completed. Definitely more of an experimental and intellectual piece. Not bad at all but it may take patience, especially for someone that loves those blastbeats.
Okay, Evangelion has a CRUSHING first half. That much is indisputable. The first five songs are terrific and worth the purchase of the album alone. The latter half is slower, less dazzling, and may take some time to develop (that’s not to imply that there is a single bad song on this album though). I don’t think Evangelion surpasses The Apostasy, but it is still a very satisfying release that shows an evolution in Behemoth’s music and an exploration of different textures. To be frank, if you haven’t downloaded it already, Evangelion is worth a purchase!