Album Review:  Behemoth — “Opvs Contra Natvram”

Sensational satanists and extreme metal trailblazers, Behemoth, are back with their twelfth studio release Opvs Contra Natvram.  Each of the ten tracks brings hellfire with face melting riffs, abrasive vocals, killer drumming, and all the energy and attitude of a live performance.  The album title meaning “going against the current” perfectly summarizes the intent of this release which is to give a big “fuck you” to the destructive propensities in popular culture and social media.  It would not be a Behemoth album if it didn’t raise a few eyebrows from passersby and act as an righteous piece of rebellion.  This release is something only Behemoth could have created and it is not to be missed.

Opvs Contra Natvram is a flurry of aggression and though the runtime is a bit over 43 minutes, it speeds by with high intensity.  While the movement is quick, it is far from sloppy and it is clear that each note and every lyric was forged with intent.  Mastermind and frontman Adam “Nergal” Darski explains that Opvs Contra Natvram “…is the most thoughtful, the most thought-through, the most mature thing we’ve done – it’s quintessentially Behemoth.  It’s just bangers – all meat, no fat.”  It is quite difficult to pick a favorite track because of this.  The first single released, “Ov My Herculean Exile,” absolutely crushes with wailing harsh vocals, seemingly unhinged drumming, an insane guitar solo, and memorable melancholy melodies. This track is sure to be a crowd pleaser as it brings some old school Behemoth vibes with evolved Behemoth composition.

I am also drawn to the album’s opening track “Post-God Nirvana.”  It opens ambiently with some echoing marching drums and builds anticipation as it carries on.  There is a moment in this track of chanting vocals that are deep and almost verge on throat singing.  As the chanting continues, an electric guitar melody pops in to give goosebumps.  This piece is cinematic with its layers and dramatics, and it conjures images of ghostly entities marching through rivers of fire.  Another notable track is the closer, “Versus Christus” which features piano and a clean vocal side of Nergal that offers something a little different and very spooky.  This alluring track is the longest of the album at six and a half minutes.  It holds a lot of rise and fall which helps capture the essence of Opvs Contra Natvram and will leave listeners in awe and ready to hit “play again.” 

I have been a fan of Behemoth for some time now.  Their previous release, I Loved You At Your Darkest (2018), was a bit of a disappointment for me though.  I enjoyed some of the tracks but it felt as though something was missing or lost entirely.  I can only imagine how much of a challenge it is to create another work of art after The Satanist (2014), which is almost certainly the band’s best work, but Opvs Contra Natvram is a solid contender and an excellent addition to Behemoth’s discography.  It refreshed my love for the band and has me hooked on them once again.  I see this release making many end of year lists and I will continue to follow Behemoth’s journey.

If you cannot wait until tomorrow’s release date and are craving a sneak peak of this crushing album, Behemoth announced that they are performing four new tracks from Opvs Contra Natvram from the rooftop of Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science and the stream will be available at noon EST.  I would expect nothing less from these rebellious hellraisers and look forward to tuning in, I’ll see you there.  Hail Satan and enjoy.

– Angela

Opvs Contra Natvram will be available September 16 on Nuclear Blast.  For more information on Behemoth, visit their official website.

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