Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Polish Death Metallers Behemoth Spread Their Blackened Wings with 'Evangelion'

After an album like 2007's Apostasy, which was as equally abrasive as it was successful in breaking the band through to new audiences on tours like that year's incarnation of the Ozzfest, many bands would have taken it easy on a follow-up. For Poland's Behemoth, who have been touring almost non-stop between albums for over a decade, slowing down was never an option. Evangelion, the band's ninth studio album, builds on the evolution of sound evident over the course of its eight predecessors, allowing Adam "Nergal" Darski & Co. to try things they may not have necessarily tried in the past.

Don't be alarmed, though. You're still not going to find any power ballads here. Darski's vocals still pack all the intensity of a plague of locusts, the guitars still convey the blackest depths of a raging maelstrom, and Tomasz "Orion" Wroblewski's bass lines are still, if not more so, worthy of comparison to the rumblings of the San Andreas Fault. Robert "Inferno" Prominski's drumming, however, is one of the most noticeable, and best, improvements of this outing. While the drums on previous efforts had the sound of a non-stop barrage of artillery, Evangelion sees Prominski utilizing complex tempo shifts to give his chaotic sound a sense of discipline and control.

The album's songs feature common Behemoth themes such as mythology and the occult, such as album opener "Daimonos," which invokes the name of the Greek lust and wine god, Dionysus. Its first single, "Ov Fire and the Void," raids the senses in a manner befitting a Roman Legion while not maintaining the speed of an all-out Blitzkrieg. The thing that stands out most on the majority of Evangelion's tracks is Behemoth's embrace of their newly found sense of experimentation with melody, especially on tracks such as "The Seed Ov I."

By adding this extra melody and experimentation to their sound, Behemoth succeed in keeping their established sound interesting without ever coming close to abandoning it; a feat sure to bring in new listeners without alienating longtime fans.

RATING: 4.5 out of 5

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