Behemoth, "Zos Kia Cultos"
When I heard Behemoth's, "Satanica", it blew me away. The rawness of the music, the incredible vocals, and the seething energy and boil of the performance combined to make one of the best black/death metal albums of 1999. It was with some dissapointment that I listend to the follow up, "Thelema 6", which was just a tamer, more restrained retread of the ideas so joyously thrown about on "Satanica". Now, Behemoth deliver "Zos Kia Cultos [Here and Beyond]." Have they refound their energy, or descended even further into the duldrums?
Thankfully, "Zos Kia Cultos" is a kicker of an album. Still not as insane as "Satanica," but damn close, as the black metal of their earlier works is completely gone, and in it's place is a crushing, bruising, pounding, kicking, biting, fighting, death metal machine that has enough confidence to pull off slower grooves ('Horns of Baphomet,' 'As Above, So Below'), but still young enough to sound desperate when it slugs it out on the furious moments ('Blackest ov the Black.' 'Harlot ov the Saints'), of which there are many. There are some desperately needed new sounds this time out as well, as heard in the downright funky syncopated rhythms at 1:24 of 'Here and Beyond,' the acoustic solo in the beginning of 'Typhoniah Soul Zodiak,' the industrial soundscapes the break up the album, and the sly nod to Morbid Angel in the opening vocal line of the infectiously catchy title track.
Morbid Angel is an important influence to mention, as you can increasingly hear the influence of Azagthoth's playing in both the solos and certain grooves, although Nergal and company do well to make the ideas they borrow their own before actually calling them their own. And since Morbid Angel doesn't seem to care much about their own music anymore, I think it's high time someone picked up the torch and kept things moving. And there's really no more capable or deserving band out there to do it, either.
Behemoth was on the fence before the release of this album. They set a high standard with "Satanica", but fell a bit flat on "Thelema". Thankfully, they've righted their ship and appear poised to not only take over a significant share of the death metal market place, but kick all kinds of sorry ass while doing it.
As Above So Below