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Shadow Music Ryan Harding Review by
Ryan Harding
Avant Garde

Nergal and friends decided that a gradual decline in their previous black metal stylings to add death metal elements wasn’t an agreeable course of action. They just dropped the black metal altogether, and SATANICA is the result, a focused technical assault that has taken many by surprise. With good reason. This isn’t the logical step from the last album, PANDEMONIC INCANTATIONS. Despite no personnel changes, BEHEMOTH sounds like a different band for the most part.

The good news is that they’ve only changed the platform for their aggression, not merely abandoned it for the sake of trendiness. Nergal is still running the show, doing the guitars, bass, and vocals. Inferno provides the skin flaying, and Kaos the additional guitar (both have since left BEHEMOTH, however). They hail from Poland, so a VADER comparison shouldn’t surprise anyone.

The guitar style treads a line between their national counterparts and MORBID ANGEL, though not without their own ideas. "Decade of Oepion" immediately defines their annihilative purpose, melting into "Lam" with comparable speed. Most of the songs end with ambient outros, but like the last Abigor they’re not overwhelming, more effective in their brevity. The lyrics are accompanied by explanations for their inspiration, which is another VADER-like touch. Also like VADER the words mostly deal with occult metaphysics. Less rapid but well-written songs come in the form of "Ceremony of Shiva" and "The Sermon to the Hypocrites," both possessing memorable riffs.

Perhaps the ideal display of their new direction comes from "Of Sephirotic Transformation and Carnality," which builds up its momentum, uses it, and builds back up to more. "Chant for Ezxhaton 2000" provides the exit, probably the most unique moment on the album. Nergal’s vocals fit the death metal mold seamlessly, coherent but suitably low. Though I could usually care less about running time, for once I think the album could have been more effective with at least one other song. Despite the 93 tracks there is still over 30 minutes of actual music, though. It’s been a frequently played cd here, and should hit with discriminating and non-discriminating death metal fans.


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This review copyright 2000 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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