The Pitch: Polish blackened death metal sensation Behemoth follow up the critically lauded The Satanist with a new album from Metal Blade Records. Can it live up to its predecessor?
What I Like: Before I get critical, there are certainly some cool things to consider about this album. First and foremost, Behemoth take some serious gambles for a band 25+ years into their career. They could have easily just phoned in the usual bulldozer union of punishing snarls, blazing guitars, and pounding blasts. Instead, I Love You At Your Darkest plays out more like a blasphemous musical of sorts; each song an elaborate scene with its own set pieces and mood. Symphonic elements return, adding further dramatic punctuation to key moments, as does the frequent appearance of acoustic guitar, monk-like chanting, and classic rock soloing. It's multi-textured and at times quite interesting.
Critiques: Let's start from the beginning with the cringy intro. Incorporating little kids into your vocals almost never goes well, and that fact holds just as true here. It's an unfortunate way to open the album, and only the most obvious misstep with the songwriting. Whereas The Satanist felt very ominous and methodical, ILYAYD is clunky and lacks consistent atmosphere. For every cool moment of blazing horns or slowly building drums, we get odd transitions, castrated modern production, and largely forgettable riffs. Even more straightforward headbangers like "Angelvs XIII" and lead single "Wolves ov Siberia" end up sounding jumbled, repetetive, and generic.
On a more thematic note, I can't shake the feeling that the use of once shocking anti-religious imagery has become pretty played. It makes sense in Poland where you can still be arrested for infractions. But in a country where a growing number of the mainstream population openly disparage and outright reject the church, it's hard for the content on display to feel edgy. Hell, the album title is straight out of a moody high schooler's journal.
The Verdict: While I Loved You At Your Darkest takes some admirable chances with its increasingly more dynamic approach, the end product feels like a far fall from the lofty heights of The Satanist. I remember being honestly relieved when Nergal announced that the previous album might be Behemoth's last. "A wise choice," I thought, "Go out at the pinnacle of your career." It's always nice to get more music...but this new release simply lacks the intensity and extremity that I have come to expect from Nergal and co. It's not bad, and many of the tracks grew on me, but it's arguably their most mainstream and ultimately toothless record to date.
Flight's Fav's: Sabbath Mater, Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica, If Crucifixion Was Not Enough...
- Review by FlightOfIcarus
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