Behemoth: Messe Noire – album review
Released: 13 April 2018
CD / 2LP / DVD / Blu-Ray / DD
Polish black metal titans deliver live version of classic, career defining 2014 album.
When Behemoth released The Satanist in 2014, they set their own bar extremely high. The production was immense, the aesthetic was vicious, but the main thing was that the music was fiendishly good. Behemoth toured the hell out of the album, including festival stops at Bloodstock, Graspop and Brutal Assault (to name a few). The UK leg of The Satanist tour in 2014 saw Winterfylleth, Grand Magus and Decapitated playing as support to the band in a bill. Messe Noire (Black Mass) takes its name from one of the tracks from The Satanist and was filmed/recorded in the bands own country of Poland in the city of Warsaw in 2016.
The CD portion of the release contains The Satanist live in all its unholy glory. When the album came out, it was widely lauded in many parts of the music media with even The Guardian offering up a 5* review. As an album, it is a modern day heavy metal classic. It was made in the aftermath of lead singer Nergal, beating Leukaemia. It is an album rooted deep in black metal, but has serious crossover appeal in its acknowledgment of other musical styles and motifs.
Opener, Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel opens up with a sparse lonely riff that is accompanied by a chiming drum and bass combo before one of the most odious opening lines to a song. It begins a journey through the doldrums of hell that flits between orthodox black metal cuts such as Furor Divinus to the completely demonic O Father O Satan O Sun that closes the album in epic fashion with shrill choirs shrieking and the relentless nature of the guitars and drums assaulting the senses. The choir, coupled with the jarring sound effects and visuals and a rabid, blood soaked Nergal are bludgeoning.
As the album has absolutely nothing to prove in its mastery, the concert film shows just how impressive the album is as the band delivers a blistering performance of the album that both wows and impresses on many levels.
First of all, the energy and frenetic nature of the performance is not for the feint hearted. Breakneck editing and a relentless, seizure inducing lightshow make for a formidable watch.
Cut scenes in-between tracks and spine tingling sound and visual effects make the trip and uneasy trip down to the pits of hell. Devilish incantations prior to the title track, scraping and sharpening of blades before the opening of the show, burning iconography and howling screams make this an almighty and visceral assault on the senses.
Whist the show is visually stunning; again, it is the music that shines through. The band, all in suitably hellish attire, shows that they are at their absolute peak and have complete belief in what they are delivering. The drumming is exhilarating, the guitar work is gruesomely spectacular, and the sneering and snarling vocals only heighten the dastardly images being conjured by the music.
In addition to the spectacular live version of The Satanist in audio and visual format, there is the The Satanist: Cinematic Archives included amongst the visual portion of the release. Films for six out of the nine cuts from The Satanist are contained on the DVD, including the NSFW uncensored video for Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel. All are primeval, gut wrenching films that complement the music contained within perfectly.
On top of the CD / DVD release, the LP comes with 6 extra tracks that are included as part of the live film as an encore. There is also an extra live ‘bootleg’ performance from Brutal Assault Festival in 2016 contained on the DVD.
This is a comprehensive package documenting a band that is in the finest blood curdling form of their career. If you enjoyed The Satanist or even have a passing interest in black metal, Behemoth, or live concerts, be sure to check this out; you will not be disappointed. Messe Noire is powerful, remorseless and overwhelmingly good. If ever there was a show you would hail a band with devil horns, this is it.