I enjoyed Behemoth’s last studio album, 2018’s ‘I Loved You At Your Darkest’, but did not exactly warrant it as essential, while I was also not exactly gushing about their more recent live ‘In Absentia Dei’, so what would I think of the latest effort? With a Latin title (Work Against Nature), an inverted crucifix on a starkly white cover, it certainly appeared that we were off to a good start, and it is great to be able to report that it continued through to the music with the result being one of the most complete Behemoth albums one is likely to find. Bassist Orion is still the newbie of the trio as he has only been there 20 years, while drummer Inferno has been there for 25 and of course the mighty Nergal has now been there for more than 30, and in many ways they have managed to combine that history and legacy into something which is both commercial and Black Metal at the same time.
The production has smoothed over the rough edges while never truly removing the menace, and there is much more of a wall of sound than one would normally associate a with a trio as there has been multi layering of guitars. There is also a good use of dark and light (or at least dark and less dark), and while some people may view this style of BM as buzzsaw guitars without end there is a great deal going on, with the three musicians fully locked together in a way which only comes from playing together for so very long. We get some nice atmospheric touches here and there, all of which provides more emphasis when they really kick off. Nergal’s vocals still contain the grit and menace one has come to expect, and even when the arrangement is more symphonic that never wavers in its approach. I can understand some people saying the production has somewhat sanitised the overall impact, and that they are not the band who hit the ground running with the mighty ‘Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic)’ all those years back, but are any of us the same as we were back in 1995?
This release is one which will appear to long-time fans of the band such as myself, but will also entice many others who have yet to investigate Behemoth and their back catalogue. Inferno is playing out of his skin on this one, with incredible fills and rolls, while Orion and Nergal play as one and the result is something quite special indeed.
9/10 Kev Rowland