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'Satanica' from 1999 is the album that marked the Polish Metal band Behemoth's transition from Black Metal to Death Metal. Some like to call it Blackened Death Metal, as there are still traces of the band's Black Metal roots left. But before this album, Behemoth was primarily a Black Metal band, and from this moment onwards they were primarily a Death Metal band. At the same time the band made the move from the small underground label Solistium to considerably bigger Avantgarde Records, which also allowed for a bigger studio budget and a great production for the album!
Although 'Satanica' is comprised of fairly fast and intense Death Metal, there are still bits of Black Metal left in the sound. The guitar riffs are crushingly heavy, there are intense guitar leads, the drums are blasting at top speed. But this is no Cannibal Corpse or Morbid angel. Behemoth have an own sound that incorporates technical riffs in bombastic sound arrangements.
'Satanica' is not as mature in terms of song writing and production as the later Behemoth albums, but Satanica was the start of Behemoth as we know the band today, and it is still a very strong album! Recommended for hardcore Behemoth fans, and anyone who feel they can't get enough of 'blackened death metal'.
'Satanica' is the real beginning of Behemoth's modern sound, a completely uninhibited death/black metal hybrid that's saved from becoming relentless, mind-hammering tedium by the few lighter touches of Nergal's lead guitar and those few moments where Inferno's destructive percussion allows the music to be enjoyed rather than physically endured. As I've never been a fan of the more brutal and violent side of extreme metal bands coming to the fore, this is the point at which Behemoth ceases to be an interesting and creative black metal band and more a competitor in the heaviness stakes to be judged by black metal snobs insecure in their masculinity whose list of favourite bands runs according to their heaviness and obvious amount of balls. That said, it's still clear that Behemoth continues to be an interesting band even after the shift of focus, and wincing through the pain I was able to take some enjoyment from this album when it offered something other than a firing squad for my brain.
The heaviness overload is present right from the very start, and as relentless as it may seem at times, there are greater periods of respite than it may first appear. Nergal still lets off some melodic solos that haven't fallen victim to the death metal need for everything to be squealed and discordant to be valid, and the entirety of tracks three and five are slower and less aggressive on the whole, the latter even featuring some clean vocals that border dangerously on singing and hark back to the previous album, obviously making these my preferred songs here. Even the tediously violent tracks have a lot to offer, from admiring Inferno's very impressive kit work (I'm referring to his drumming, rather than his D.I.Y. skills) to the passion in Nergal's roar, now modulated to a growl rather than a harsh rasp to fit more in line with the new direction.
The technical skill is certainly impressive all round, even if it's not my cup of paraffin, and it all seems a hell of a lot better when provided a contrast in less proficient bands seeking the heaviest accolades, Lamb of God for example, whose composition process for a song seems to be hammering a guitar chord in time with a drum blast and then intentionally causing the CD to skip repeatedly for four minutes.
1. Decade of Therion
3. Ceremony of Shiva
4. Of Sephrotic Transformation and Carnality
5. The Sermon to the Hypocrites
7. Alchemists Dream
8. Chant for Eschanton 2000
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Decade of Therion
3 Ceremony of Shiva
4 Of Sephirolic Transformalion and Carnality
5 Sermon to the Hypocrites
7 Alchemist's Dream
8 Chant for Eschaton 2000