Review || Behemoth - "I Loved You At Your Darkest"

Behemoth's eleventh studio album, "I Loved You At Your Darkest", came a good 4 years after the acclaimed "The Satanist", on October 4th 2018 via Nuclear Blast (EU)/Metal Blade (ROW). It's not unusual for the Polish band to create controversy around their artistry -and they surely hit a soft spot with the visuals of the first singles. Ironically, most people trash talking the band for that content and the "softness" of the title, cannot perceive in the slightest the true, quite blasphemous, meaning behind it. 

The album consists of 12 tracks (to my dismay; I was really hoping for one more). I have a theory that, as Behemoth became more and more established, the shock value was gradually set aside from the music aspect -which instead became more polished- and remained only in the stage and promotional imagery. ILYAYD is unapologetic as fuck because the band has nothing to prove and, at this point, you either love them or hate them. There's no in-between, really. Having consolidated their fanbase, the band is free to further expand their music endeavors by exploiting a greater creative freedom -and that's what this album is about. The listener shouldn't be surprised that certain songs have a slower pace ("Bartzabel") while others showcase militant outbursts ("Coagvla"); if anything, I find this adds more intrigue to the overall ambiance of the album. I really love how certain guitar-driven parts, conveying a fascinating blackened death sound, are further enhanced by the orchestration that enrobes them. Composition-wise, the album appears more simple than it really is. Each layer consists of concrete,clear and robust instrumentation -although what really stands out for me is the dynamic drumwork, underpinning the effort skillfully and without excess. 
Lastly, I think it's interesting to address how mainman Adam "Nergal" Darski keeps shaping the idiosyncratic and controversial identity of the band. All the years down this creative path culminate in proficient performance, both vocally and aesthetically. I really admire how his articulation becomes clearer with time, to the point where, despite the nature of his vocals, the listener can understand his challenging lyrics upon first spin and relate -or profoundly disagree. And you have to admit, this guy is damn good at playing head games. Darkness is inherent to the band's music; what makes it more prominent in this case is the occasional use of cleaner vocals. Nothing too much to alienate the curious mass (the album title alone worked miracles already with naysayers) but in complete moderation and only when needed. The artistry continues with how Nergal portrays himself. On one hand, during interviews, he is very composed, witty and well-spoken, no matter how caustic or adamant his opinions may sound to an untrained ear. On the other, the stage transforms him into an erratic beasta heretic spewing his contempt over organised religion. The confrontational character of his persona is at the core of Behemoth's essence and the element that separates ingenious artists from brats.

"I Loved You At Your Darkest" is a brutally honest and straight-forward record. I don't necessarily agree with the "polarizing" aspect that many people complain about; it's impossible to expect from a band to keep playing the same thing over and over, even within a specific genre -unless we're talking about heavy metal behemoths. To conclude this review, the album is the natural next step for he band. Sure, I still think that certain choral parts or the children chanting on "Solve" could've been toned down or overall avoided, but this doesn't diminish the quality of the album in any way. To me, it's a masterpiece. An instant classic, in fact. 
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