Fans of any one artist, or any one particular genre of music, always look forward to the newest releases by bands they listen to. Occasionally there are new releases on the horizon that cross boundaries, releases that everyone anticipates, releases that people expect to be special. After their killer 2005 CD Demigod, and a relentless touring schedule that saw them play 325 dates in support of that album, it seems as though the entire metal world is waiting with bated breath to see what Behemoth are going to do for an encore. Well the wait is over as the blackened death metal destroyers from Poland return better than ever, ready to annihilate with The Apostasy.
The album opens with the intro "Rome 64 C.E.", fading in to a Middle Eastern, chanting female vocal. (There is an underlying Middle Eastern flair throughout the album) This vocal leads the band into giving the listener a one minute warm up to the blitzkrieg that is about to follow. After this brief intro, Inferno fittingly starts things off with a blazing drum roll right into a measure of blast beats, as the band joins in for "Slaying The Prophets Ov Isa". It's just pure Behemoth ferocity, starting right where Demigod left off, only better. It's amazing how Behemoth can take a three minute, twenty three second song, and make it feel so epic. Most bands feel the need to write eight minute snooze fests to try and pull this off. Not Nergal, he packs everything in and makes it all work perfectly together in a very dramatic fashion. Moving on to "Prometherion" things don't get any more tranquil as it's another barrage and Nergal is at his daunting best with his vocals. One immediately noticeable difference on The Apostasy, as opposed to its predecessor, is the vocals. Rather than laying down several vocal tracks on every tune, the vocals are minimized and sound amazing. At times when pertinent there are layers of vocals, which add an awe factor and kick the listener in the face.
Things slow down slightly as an acoustic guitar welcomes us to "At The Left Hand Ov God", which is one of the albums finer moments. The song ends with tribal drumming and more Middle Eastern style chanting. This and "Libertheme" are two of the more subdued tracks on the album; subdued as far as Behemoth goes at least. They bring the speed down but still deliver the intensity. "Libertheme" is a mid paced brute with a pummeling groove. One more subdued and unconventional Behemoth track is "Inner Sanctum". Polish Jazz piano great Leszek Mozdzer plays the intro to the song and later adds small touches that create an eerie horror movie feel to the slow but powerful tune. Another surprise on "Inner Sanctum" are the guest vocals of Nevermore's Warrel Dane, which are fantastic and add to the atmosphere of dread that permeates throughout.
The opus ends with another of its finer tracks, "Christgrinding Avenue", which sounds like another Behemoth classic. They bring everything together nicely on this monster of a closer, which ends with a pummeling double bass passage backed by symphonic horns, fading into the same female chanting that started the album. You've come full circle.
The musicianship from the band on the album is first rate. Inferno has taken his drumming to another level. Everyone knows his proficiency at playing hyper speed blast beats, but he really shows on The Apostasy that he's no one trick pony, using more tom and cymbal work then ever. "Tasty" is a term usually used to describe Jazz drummers who know when to throw in that certain small something that you weren't expecting, but that adds big flavor to the music. Well, Inferno's drumming is "tasty" to say the least. The guy has become an extreme metal monster. The guitar work shouldn't be forgotten either, it really stands out and grabs you by the throat. Nergal keeps it fresh and continually dishes out one original riff after another, as well as a slew of ripping guitar solos that are written perfectly for the music. Also thrown in are vocal choirs, horns, and the piano. It seems so cliché to say it, but Behemoth have really evolved as a band. One listen to The Apostasy will prove that. Everything seems much more mature and professional, from the songwriting to the musicianship. There are layers of sound and the music is thick, more complex, and more technical, while still remaining wicked. They create quite an engrossing atmosphere.
Nergal and company have always been one of the hardest working bands in music, touring relentlessly, and bringing themselves to the people. It's obvious they brought that work ethic back into the studio with them. This metal juggernaut just continues to get bigger and bigger. Behemoth are on the brink of great things, and The Apostasy is just the next step toward absolute world domination.
1) Rome 64 C.E.
2) Slaying The Prophets Ov Isa
4) At The Left Hand Ov God
6) Be Without Fear
7) Arcana Hereticae
9) Inner Sanctum
11) Christgrinding Avenue