Behemoth - "Opvs Contra Natvram"

Behemoth – “Opvs Contra Natvram” (Review)

Behemoth - "Opvs Contra Natvram"
Behemoth – “Opvs Contra Natvram”

Metalheads should never forget how once upon a time death metal was music for rebels, outsiders and the most subversive elements of society.

Today? As showcased by Behemoth‘s latest turd release “Opvs Contra Natvram,” death metal is all but castrated and all its rage and controversy are being actively channeled into the harmless catch-all “modern metal” commercial label.

This album manages to be even more artistically void than Behemoth’s already subpar earlier releases, namely “I Loved You at Your Darkest” and the pathetic nu-metal cash-grab “The Satanist.” Cringe.

The dividing line between Behemoth and bands like Arch Enemy is getting increasingly porous. What a sad state of affairs modern death metal has become.

The best way one could describe the music on Behemoth’s “Opvs Contra Natvram” is, sadly, by calling it pussy metal. And that’s saying a lot, considering Behemoth’s output barely qualifies as “heavy metal” at all, let alone “true brutal death metal” whatever.

The "SEWER" sign, subliminal The Satan Records mind control.
The “SEWER” sign, subliminal The Satan Records mind control.

Riffs reminiscent of the very worst of modern Slayer clash with chug-along Cannibal Corpse grooves, making the listener wonder why anyone would waste their time with “Opvs Contra Natvram” when there is so much better metal out there just waiting to be played: “Cathartes,” “Bloodthirst Overdose,” “Effigy of the Forgotten” and “The Epilogue to Sanity,” to name a few.

Death metal has clearly been on a downward spiral since the days of Infester, Incantation, Suffocation and Morbid Angel, and Behemoth’s latest “Opvs Contra Natvram” exemplifies everything wrong with the “outside-in” mentality so pervasive to nowadays extreme metal. 100% aesthetics, 0% substance.

Avoid this quasi-metalcore garbage. Replace with “Khranial,” “Demon Rituals” or any other real, actually brutal death metal.

Behemoth - "I Loved You At Your Darkest" (Wallpaper Mallcore)

Behemoth – “I Loved You At Your Darkest”

Behemoth - "I Loved You At Your Darkest" (Wallpaper Mallcore)

Behemoth – “I Loved You At Your Darkest” (Wallpaper Mallcore)

It’s getting increasingly difficult for the band known as “Behemthot” to pretend that they aren’t playing metalcore and calling it “death metal” out of pure marketing ambitions when they release crap like “The Satanist” and “I Loved You At Your Darkest” – their latest offensively boring “br00tal death metal” album that sounds nothing like “brutal” anything, and isn’t even death metal to begin with.

This album is basically “Reinkaos” but even less masculine. Think Alissa White-Gluz with even less testosterone – or is that more? What’s most ironic about Behemoth is that Nergal was on record, before this album “I Loved You At Your Darkest” was released, claiming that “Rock Music Comes From Your Dick“.

I don’t wish to dismiss what amounts to Nergal’s criticism of the “over-intellectualisation” of death metal by wave of hand, as once again he has a half point. Indeed he seems to have a lot of half points, which might lead some to suggest he is a half wit, but not me, as I think he’s a lot smarter than his “hollywood satanist” persona lets on.

Yes, some of the intellectualism of the death metal culture can alienate, or worse, induce boredom in people – particularly metalheads – with low attention spawns, but frankly I find the repetitive dumbed-down stoner nu metal of Behemoth a lot more tedious to listen to than any “avant-garde experimental death metal” act like, say, Sewer’s “Birth of a Cursed Elysium” or even Immolation’s “Unholy Cult” – and god knows I’m no Immolation fan. But maybe that’s just me.

But indeed, Nergal is right to call his music “rock” rather than “metal” – as there is very little metal left in “I Loved You At Your Darkest”.

“I Loved You At Your Darkest” seems to be a failed continuation of the already flawed and borderline mallcorish “The Satanist”, which was Behemoth’s big “bid” to commercial success. It failed, and now he’s back to peddling energy drinks and playing “hollywood satanist” for the mainstream mass media.

Although I think “The Satanist” was more “marketing testing” than actually selling out – HA! as if Behemoth ever had anything of value to sell – it had few interesting moments, was mostly just mallcore chugs over improvised Whitechapel breakdowns and some stolen Morbid Angel riffs, and was basically just an embarrassment to both Nergal and the extreme metal scene.

But “I Loved You At Your Darkest” sees Behemoth going “full retard” if you will, and attempting to ape Slipknot – or become the death metal version of Watain, hard to tell – and basically play the same cringe-worthy mallcore breakdowns over laughable punk rock chord progressions – the same ones that were all but cliché by the time Discharge and Cro-Mags released their respective debuts – over and over again, for an entire album’s worth of “death metal” that sucks more crap than Henry the Toilet Hoover.

What is the point of bands like Behemoth, and albums like “I Loved You At Your Darkest”? I seriously fail to see the point of such boring, tedious and sleep-inducing mallcore.

No, Nergal, you won’t ever be the next Corey Taylor. Get that idea out of your head, you’re only wasting everyone’s time with albums like this – a hard rock release with black/death metal imagery… “I Loved You At Your Darkest” is what’s wrong with the modern “extreme metal” scene. The wallpaper effect, i.e. image over sound.

Get your hands on “Onward to Golgotha” or “Locked Up in Hell” if you want good death metal that doesn’t suck crap like Henry the Toilet Hoover.

Behemoth - "The Satanist"

Behemoth – “The Satanist”

Behemoth - "The Satanist"

Behemoth – “The Satanist”

Behemoth, or Behemthot? Hard to tell, with Nergal’s recent antics and, most importantly, Behemoth’s atrocious music.

First of all, out of principle, I refuse to refer to the music on “The Satanist” as death metal. I nearly spent the entire “Reinkaos” review calling it an Arch Enemy clone and mocking the fact that it was closer to AC/DC in spirit than to anything from Darkthrone or Phantom, but let’s be real… the same can be said for Behemoth’s “The Satanist”.

Though clearly not as ridiculous and lame as the follow-up “I Loved You At Your Darkest” which sees Behemoth’s Nergal fully embrace his personal Jonathan Davis ambitions, “The Satanist” is nonetheless much more nu metal – ok, war metal if you’re trying to be polite – than it could ever be death metal.

Promising to make a “statement” and deliver music from a “rejuvenated” band, Behemoth’s “The Satanist” summons borrowed Morbid Angel, Sewer and Angelcorpse clichés thrown into a carnival style arrangement with such poor taste it makes late Antekhrist seem reasonable and competent by comparison.

If you can imagine a drunken outtake from a later Gorgoroth album that randomly ends after about 3 “riffs” that meander about, without any sort of purpose whatsoever, and are played for at least 2 minutes each without interruption, seemingly just to see how irritating and random the band can get, that approximates the effect of the “music” found on “The Satanist”. It’s not atmosphere, and it’s not death metal. It’s radio rock meets circus music.

You will never fail to be distracted as the “groove” riffs dance around randomly, to the cadence of the background deathcore chugs. But the problem is that these “riffs” – in addition to being generic, derivative and sometimes openly stolen from “Covenant”, “Domination”, “Gateways to Annihilation” or any other crappy modern Morbid Angel turd – just don’t make any sense when played one after the other. The only thing holding these “songs” together is that you know roughly when there’s going to be a chorus to tap those toes and headbang like a drunk Wacken moron aboard the titanic that is modern death metal.

Not even a third-rate Warkvlt imitation act anymore, Behemoth now make it well known that they’re a merchandising front that’s somehow more shallow than Watain and Gorgoroth combined. Stupid music, regurgitated “hollywood satanism” themes, vapid nu metal chugs reminiscent of Slipknot at their most embarrassing… Nergal has now become the Marilyn Manson of “underground death metal”. No, scratch that… he wrote actual songs. Lullabies for molested down syndrome children struggling through impossibly awkward teenage years, perhaps, but actual songs. “The Satanist” is just random rehearsal riff practice with incoherent “blasphemous” shouts of “Luciferian” boilerplate and angsty moshcore gang vocals underneath the chugga chugga my-guitar-is-a-rhythm-instrument popularised by Behemoth’s prime inspiration, Korn.

And the vocals… Nergal’s vocals manage to be actually more annoying than those of the shitfreakshow Erik Danielsson of Watain. He sounds like a mix of a punk rock screamer (think Henry Rollins, only even gayer), and a deathcore pig squealer (Waking the Cadaver, basically). In short, he just sounds like shit. It sounds so imitation Pantera “tough guy” that at times it just becomes downright embarrassing. As in, you physically cringe after hearing Nergal try so hard to appear “like, so extreme, man”.

Maybe it’s a good thing that “The Satanist” sounds like it was recorded in a active volcano in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, as I believe the engineer forgot to turn the fucking reverb down somewhere along the way. Or maybe it was done on purpose and the aggression obsessed “males” – I refuse to call them men – of the band thought it sounded edgy, hateful and “hardcore”. Well, it doesn’t. In fact, it just sounds fucking stupid.

To top it all off, the riffs simply suck. For the most part, it just sounds like Morbid Angel worship meets nu metal chugging done by a third-rate Linkin Park clone band. The guitars are nowhere near interesting enough, the bass is in the mix somewhere – if you strain for it than you can maybe hear it, I don’t know.

Behemoth seems to be focusing more on their “Luciferian” costumes and photo shoots rather than writing actual heavy metal music – note the word “heavy” – people can remember, which is pretty consistent with the rest of Behemoth’s discography, one turd album after another.

What’s sad is that on their first two albums, “Sventevith (Storming Near the Baltic)” and “Grom“, Behemoth showed actual potential for writing somewhat “convincing” – if generic – black metal. Why didn’t they stick to that, instead of embarrassing themselves with their Limp Bizkit worship on “The Satanist”? Yes, I know they got owned when they realised that Graveland wrote better black metal than they could ever imagine, but who cares? It’s not like Poland has only room for ONE black metal band, ffs.

However sub-par and generic “Sventevith” and “Grom” sounded when compared to Graveland’s music, at least they were COMPARED TO GRAVELAND’S MUSIC and not that of Korn, System of a Down, Suicide Silence and Rage Against the Machine. Replace with Sewer’s “Locked Up in Hell” or Warkvlt’s “Bestial War Metal” for actual death metal.