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Behemoth – ‘Opvs Contra Natvram’

Publisher
Nuclear Blast
FFO
Belphegor, Vader, Hate, Crescent, Maat, Begerith, Xul
Release Date
September 16, 2022
Publisher
Nuclear Blast
Genre
Black/Death Metal

Behemoth will forever be chasing their magnum opus ‘The Satanist’, but is that fair? That album is arguably one of the most important albums in the blackened death metal genre. The follow-up ‘I Loved You at Your Darkest’ was well received enough as a succession but simply could not live up to the masterpiece that is ‘The Satanist’.  However, this release ‘Opvs Contra Natvram’ is the next logical progression.

There are really three eras of Behemoth. There are the early pure black metal days; the ‘Thelema 6’ to ‘Evangelion’ era that began their transition into blackened death metal, and ‘The Satanist’ era.  ‘The Satanist’ was Behemoth making blasphemy a work of high art. Many bands can never surpass their best album but Behemoth has the Herculean task of trying to top a genre-defining album.  Does ‘Opvs Contra Natvram’ do that? The answer is no. But again, is that fair?

If any other band released this same album it would be a monumental achievement. Nevertheless, legendary bands will always have their high-water mark plainly visible and unfortunately, human nature prevents us from constraining comparison. This album is exciting, artistic, heavy, and a small move forward in the band’s repertoire. Extreme metal is not known for prominent bass guitar parts and yet there are several songs here where the bass carries or accents the riffs. Drummer, Inferno, experiments with flange effects. Behemoth continues their progression with vocal layering to break up the monotony of death metal growls. Seth, the lead guitar player, provides two-hand tapping that isn’t merely impressive lead guitar playing but rather extensive contributions to the evil fanaticism atmosphere Behemoth relies upon.

Is this record ‘The Satanist’ level of greatness? It is not, but what album is?

Behemoth may never again reach that mountain top, but again is that fair and what other band can? ‘Opvs Contra Natvram’ is an exemplary blackened death metal record in the shadow of a standard-bearer. Perhaps human nature prevents us from treating such a work of art fairly, but if there is a Satan he’s surely jubilant at the quality of this impiousness.

"an exemplary blackened death metal record"
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