t’s a mark in their favor that Behemoth waste a bit of time in the opening minute of Demigod, allowing a Leo Kottke-esque guitar line to ring forth before the inevitable assault begins. They’re showing off, of course, allowing stragglers to take their seats before the pummeling. Allowing a beat of breathing to take place before it’s forced out of you by savage bass and lightning-fast drum fills leave you little room to do anything but marvel. Because anyone who has listened to any of this band’s previous work know that the acoustic guitar is merely sleight-of-hand. There will be metal. It will be complicated. And it will be awesome. So let it be written, so let it be done.
The follow-up to 2002’s Zos Kia Cultus, Demigod is just as unholy of a beast and, at times, just as inscrutable. When Behemoth get into a groove, you see, there tend to be at least ten lines of inquiry being attended to. Which isn’t to say that the group is too math-metal or too complex for the casual metal fan to get into. In fact, the group tends to split the middle between abstract breakdown riffs and punishing riffage, making it an album that fans of the avant garde and the old-school can enjoy equally.
What both can also hopefully agree on is the stunning production of the album as well. Whereas most death metal albums mask or, in some cases, proudly revel in shoddy production techniques, Behemoth benefit greatly from the separation of each element. Drums travel in circles around the stereo field, engaging in breathtaking fills that hurtle back and forth between the left and right speaker. Similarly, the guitars become all the more powerful in their solitary state when the group comes to a chorus and barrels into a frightening unison that threatens the paint on the walls.
All of this makes you want to forgive the band for indulging in another turgid hour-long death metal epic, right? You don’t have to thankfully, as the band keeps it a tight forty-minutes, with the last song taking up eight of them. That song, “The Reign ov Sheum-Hor” is an unusual one for a band that seems passionate about brevity. The band works in the new format beautifully, though, slowing things down a bit and adding monk-like chants to the nearly two-minute intro. From there, the group forgoes much of the math-inflected riffage of the rest of the disc in favor of pure power. It’s a frightening and altogether fitting finale for one of the strongest European death metal bands working today. For those looking to put a tepid foot in the stream of the genre outside of indie favorites, you couldn’t do much better.
Reviewed by: Michael Bennett
Reviewed on: 2005-03-03