Extreme metal giants Behemoth have yet again delivered. Their first post-pandemic album “Opvs Contra Natvram”, out on September 16, via Nuclear Blast, brings darkness back into the spotlight. Adam “Nergal” Darski (lead-vocals, guitar), Patrick “Seth” Sztyber (guitar, vocals), Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski (bass, vocals) and Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński (drums & percussions) manage to fulfil our expectations, unleashing another well-written, well-performed and overall brilliantly devised opus.
The album opens with “Post-God Nirvana”, a dark slow-tempo march that announces that the mouths of Hell are once again open, and more darkness is to come. Fast-paced “Malaria Vvlgata” attacks with excellent drumming (as per usual) and feels like a metaphorical punch in the face. The next track is more elaborately produced, “The Deathless Sun”, one of the previously released singles (it came with a very shocking and desecrating music video); the choir featured here, as well as the guitar solos, make this one of the best songs on the album, bringing a grandeur that we have come to expect from Behemoth since the release of “The Satanist” in 2014.
“Ov My Hercvlean Exile” brings a repetitive, almost hypnotic ostinato; a heavy sounding doom metal-like track that makes it impossible not to headbang. “Neo-Spartacvs”, a rebellious heavy-hitting song, is followed by “Disinheritance”, another brick to the head, and “Off To War!”, my favourite track on the album. This song features some of the best lyrics that Behemoth has written in their 30-plus years around: existentialist questions permeate the track (“Are we defenceless prey in a predator’s eye?”), together with a call to war against fake morality which, in my view, represents Behemoth’s art perfectly (“Are we to remain subjugated by fictitious morality?”).
“Once Upon A Pale Horse” has a catchy martial rhythm and great drum fills, and is sure to become a fan-favourite; “Thy Becoming Eternal” has a cult-like sound, and very traditional black/death metal chord progressions; it brings echoes of 2014’s “O Father O Satan O Sun!” to mind. It is followed by closing track “Versvs Christvs” (the Anti-Christ), another slower-tempo song, with a piano melody that builds up to a perfect ending for “Opvs Contra Natvram”.
With great guitar and bass work, amazing drumming and on point vocals, this album has an overall more classical black metal vibe, both in the mixing/production and in the atmosphere of some of the tracks. The greatness of this one is in the balance between faster and slower tempo songs, perfectly distributed throughout the album, but still unified in tonality: “Opvs Contra Natvram” really sounds like an opus in the more traditional meaning of the word. With no weak songs, and a very clear aesthetic project (Behemoth are masters at turning the grotesque into beauty), this album brings us a chiaroscuro of extreme metal: light and darkness in equilibrium and great quality music. Be sure to listen to this one, it is totally worth it!
“Opvs Contra Natvram” tracklisting:
1. Post-God Nirvana
2. Malaria Vvlgata
3. The Deathless Sun
4. Ov My Herculean Exile
7. Off To War!
8. Once Upon A Pale Horse
9. Thy Becoming Eternal
10. Versvs Christvs