First album review in a while.
It has been four years since our Polish metal-masters released The Satanist, which appeared (at least for a time) to be the band’s last outing. I am glad to see them release another one (I am one of the few who do not think The Satanist is their opus magnum).
I Loved You is perhaps the most advertised Behemoth album I have seen. I do remember singles for other albums, but this one has generated a lot of buzz. The poorly named (and highly observant) God=Dog released a while ago, and the track gives both an accurate and inaccurate view of the album.
We open with “Solve” an oddly transitioning track with a lot of children’s choir soaring over the music. Our kiddos will reappear throughout the album (or should I say albvm to be trve kvlt?) and I think they are out of place. I am glad they aren’t on every track (something that I had worried about), but the initial “yeah, fucking evil” feeling wears off too quick and what is left feels like little more than a gimmick by Nergal to piss of religious conservatives in Poland—and probably America, too. On the one hand, cool. On the other, the lyrical content and image of the band does that all on its own.
The album begins proper with “Wolves ov Siberia” and “God=Dog” representing fairly well the sound of the entire album. We go from pummeling to progressive, savage to moody, and brutal to more melodic. “Wolves” is the closest to old Behemoth (like pre-Thelema 6.66) on the album, but still has a new edge to it. “G=D” might be the best track on the album (minus the damn choir), and the bluesy beginning leads into some excellent brutality from all members. However, Inferno has proven to be more than just a powerful drummer, the technical aspects are welcome here. Coupled with Nergal’s riffs there is almost a hint of sadness in the crushing darkness.
From our openers, we get the next coupling of tracks “Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica” and “Bartzabel” where we see Behemoth transitions to a more epic/melodic feel. The closing of “Ecclesia” is perhaps the most accessible the band has been. I don’t mind the accessibility of the new Behemoth, but it doesn’t grab me as much as their older Zos Kia Cultus or Demigod did. The clean vocals on “Bartzabel” are fine, but that might be your strongest reaction. For me, there is a certain lack of dynamism here that I expect from Nergal. Don’t get me wrong, the album is good, but I am not sure it is great.
We do get some excellent tracks, and one thing Behemoth has done well over the years is maintain a general quality over an entire album. We don’t see a major drop-off after the singles come and go. The middle track “Angelvs XIII” is perhaps the most face-rippery on the album, and is one of my preferred on the album.
I’m not going to go over every track. “Rom 5:8” makes for a good late album meditation on what Behemoth has become, but I don’t think the change is as stark as others. Of course, any change to the norm will divide fans, but this still sounds like Behemoth. Whatever new directions they take are mired in their unique sound. I like the album. I might return to it here and there. I don’t see this as album of the year, but it is certainly worth looking at. Fans will probably like it.