Beholding Behemoth: A Discography Breakdown


Discog diving with Boss the Ross.

Last time on discog diving, I explored Enslaved and asked for recommendations for future installments. Everyone’s favorite Terminator answered the call with Behemoth, and many rallied around him, resulting in today’s breakdown. To be up front with you, I had heard one album prior to this experiment. While I thought it was cool, it didn’t have that great of an impact on me, so my interest in the band waned. But for the sake of the Toileteers, I buckled down and made my way through the following 10 albums. Behemoth is a pretty well-known band in the metalsphere, and Nergal is a pretty popular dude in Poland so I will forego an extensive history lesson and get down to business. Let the dive begin!

 Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic) [1995] & Grom [1996]

Behemoth’s debut sounds like nothing that I had heard from the band. Gone are the Death Metal tendencies that I am used to; Sventevith is 100% pure Black Metal. The lo-fi production on this album suits this style well, and the shrieked vocals show Nergal in his primal form. Sonically and visually, this album is drenched in Darkthrone worship, even going so far as to include a song titled “Transylvanian Forest.” Behemoth have done a fine job of evolving their style and becoming their own entity throughout their years as a band, but it’s interesting to see where they started.

Grom on the other hand is a very diverse album that features many sounds that were not included on Sventevith. The moment I heard clean female vocals on “The Dark Forest” I knew I was in for an altogether different trip, and the music progressed interestingly enough throughout. With this album Behemoth reminds me more of Bathory (just look at that cover!) than Darkthrone. The band utilizes many folk elements that would bring a smile to Quorthon’s grim face, yet altogether this album seems to lack cohesion. There are many good ideas present, but in my opinion they are executed poorly.

 Pandemonic Incantations [1998] & Satanica [1999]

Behemoth’s third album shows the band progressing even further and starting to develop their own identity. The most obvious change is the production. Pandemonic Incantations boasts a more refined sonic palette. The guitars are clear, and the drums are earthy, while Nergal’s vocals have also developed greatly, shifting into more of a growl than a bark. All of the changes wouldn’t matter if the songwriting wasn’t there; fortunately, the songwriting is solid. The riffs are constructed methodically, and it is clear that Behemoth have started their lean towards Death Metal.

Satanica eschews the atmosphere of Behemoth’s past albums for sheer brutality. The band is faster, heavier and more aggressive than on Pandemonic Incantations. If I had to choose one word to describe the sound of this album it would be “bombastic.” Musically, the band continues on their Death Metal path, but this time there seems to be the slightest hint of Thrash in some of the phrasing. The band is still trying to find themselves here, but they seem to be getting closer to what they want. To nit-pick some of the small details, I’m not a big fan of the electronic sounds utilized in “Chant for Eschaton 2000” or the odd noise outros for most of the songs. Also, that album cover…

Thelema 6 [2000] & Zos Kia Cultus [2002]

Behemoth leave their organic past behind on Thelema 6. The songwriting seems a little scatter-brained, and the production doesn’t do much for me. The technical prowess is relevant but the over-use of pinch harmonics, the thin sounding guitars and flat drum tones are distracting. Upon first listen, I hope Behemoth decides to forego this sound with their future releases.

Zos Kia Cultus fixes some of the issues I had with Thelema 6; the guitars have a meatier tone that exemplifies the riffs, and the drums are deeper and not-so-plastic sounding. The songs are also more concise in nature, lending to a better experience than Thelema 6. While listening to this album I couldn’t help but compare it to Nile‘s early works and notice the similar sonic qualities.

 Demigod [2004] & The Apostasy [2007]

Demigod is the one Behemoth album that I had heard prior to this breakdown, and it is very interesting to see the path they traveled to get here. Aside from the multi tracked suffocating vocals, I think this is Behemoth’s best sounding record since Pandemonic Incantations. It is a well-oiled machine that allows for smooth transitions between riffs and musical passages. One of my favorite aspects is the use of slower octave riffs that allow for a more open sound within each song. Instead of the chaotic sounds on Thelema 6, we hear a band that took the time to manipulate riffs to their fullest potential.

With The Apostasy, Behemoth takes the bludgeoning straightforwardness of Demigod and makes it more artistic. The inclusion of choral lines and orchestral pieces highlighting passages throughout the album gives it a worldly and ancient feel. The production is still very clear, though not crystal, this time resulting in a slightly more organic aura than Demigod. Nergal’s vocals are also a little less on the suffocating side; it sounds like there are just two of him instead of four.

 Evangelion [2009] & The Satanist [2014]

Behemoth crank out their next album on 11. Evangelion is for the most part, forty minutes of sheer, no-frills brutality that will leave you exhausted. There are a few “relaxed” moments, but the unrelenting force of the rest of the album assaults the listener, only letting up on the final track which is a slow churning beast of extra punishment. Behemoth doesn’t really seem to explore any new areas with Evangelion, a trait that I wasn’t expecting to attribute to an album so late in their career.

The Satanist boasts all of the exploration that Evangelion lacked. I must hand it to Behemoth; they truly renewed themselves with this album. The instrumentation and atmosphere are well thought out and constructed, feeling more open than their last few albums which had a certain constriction to them. The drums in particular have an organic essence that helps keep the album grounded while the bass is actually audible and stands out for once. Nergal and co. develop many new song structures and riff stylizations that haven’t been heard on their past 9 albums, all together creating a huge step forward for Behemoth. I now understand why it garnered so much attention when it was released and is still highly regarded by many.

After all was said and done, Behemoth still remain kind of “meh” to me. Sorry to break your hearts out there, but they just aren’t anything that I feel can’t get somewhere else. They have developed into a huge band, and while they are good at what they do, I felt like I had to work to get through most of their albums. I do not mean to sway anyone with my opinion by any means, however. If you haven’t listened to Behemoth before now, pay no heed to me and make your own decisions.

Now, go ahead and barrage me in the comments about how I’m wrong about everything. I’m just gonna sit here and listen to Nile. Who’s next? Let me know below!

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