With their previous album, the 2014 opus The Satanist, Behemoth have not only created the highlight of their career, but at the same time showed the strength of broadening the horizons of the genre, whilst remaining true to its roots. Despite the critical and commercial success of the album, the band was clever enough not to try to copy the very same approach to the follow up, entitled I Loved You at Your Darkest.
The Satanist, was a masterpiece and trying to follow the same formula would most certainly result in a disappointment.
But fear not, it’s not like the new album is taking a complete left turn. This is still blackened death metal and despite more experimental approach, this is without a doubt a true Behemoth record.
Much like its predecessor, I Loved You at Your Darkest, is characterized by a perfectly balanced sound that at all times serves the greater sonic purpose of the album, rather than the individual instruments’ presence. As such the overall sound might not appeal to the hardcore fans of the early era of the band.
Sonically, the album does pick up where The Satanist left of, but musically the evolution is far greater. Logical, but greater.
There is more melody to the album, not only because of some (semi) clean vocals, but also because of usage of elements like simplified guitar leads, symphonic passages and even children’s choir. No, this is not Me And That Man, but there is more of a melodic feel to the album comparing with band’s previous releases.
All this might rob the album of some rawness, but its darkness, atmosphere and furious expression are never compromised.
The arrangements are massive and complex in their nature and that is one of the biggest strengths of this album. Behemoth has mastered the creation of massive soundscapes that at times might be chaotic, but they at all times serve a purpose of the overall atmosphere of the album. The enormous amount of different elements, too, serve the very same purpose. The attention to detail is staggering and even the song endings and pauses between songs are cleverly timed and executed.
Lyrically the band is on familiar grounds and while the (involuntary) impact of religion in society is as big as ever, it does get bit tiresome and repetitive to lyrically portrait same themes perpetually.
There are no real space-fillers on the album, but hallway through the album there are few songs that don’t match the creativity and footprint of the rest of the album.
The quality and impact of I Loved You at Your Darkest is apparent from the first spin, but the album unfolds itself if you give it more time. It also craves at least a minor portion of open-mindedness from the listener and not losing interest because of occasional acoustic guitar passage or Alice In Chains-like guitar solo.
I Loved You at Your Darkest, is a clever and worthy follow-up to what still stands as their finest hour. The band is evolving in a mature and artistically interesting way. It’s an example to be followed.