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Behemoth - Opvs Contra Natvram review



Reviewer:
7.3

157 users:
7.33
Band: Behemoth
Album: Opvs Contra Natvram
Release date: September 2022


01. Post-God Nirvana
02. Malaria Vvlgata
03. The Deathless Sun
04. Ov My Herculean Exile
05. Neo-Spartacvs
06. Disinheritance
07. Off To War!
08. Once Upon A Pale Horse
09. Thy Becoming Eternal
10. Versvs Christvs


With an album title that means ‘work against nature’, you may have expected Behemoth to create a work more contrary to their own nature.

Moving into the highest echelons of death metal with their thunderous 00s breakthrough albums, Behemoth celebrated Nergal’s recovery from leukemia by releasing The Satanist, an album that found near-universal adulation in the mainstream metal press, taking Behemoth to almost unparalleled levels of recognition for an extreme metal band and placing in numerous end-of-decade top 10 album lists (yet failing to get nominated in the 2014 Metal Storm Awards, if ever there was cast-iron evidence of our collective indifference to mainstream opinion on this site). Since then, the Polish juggernaut’s star has shined less brightly for some, with the further tempered and more grandeur-oriented I Loved You At Your Darkest and the wild mis-step that was their cover of The Cure’s “The Forest”, and as such Opvs Contra Natvram is perhaps the band’s least hyped record in decades. Now that it’s here, I feel it’s safe to say that it’s… fine?

One thing that stands out on first listen is that this album represents a jump up from ILYAYD in terms of intensity; it’s not nearly as full-force as albums such as Demigod and Evangelion, but it’s perhaps their most aggressive record since then. A dark atmospheric introductory track (“Post-God Nirvana”) is quickly followed up by a song that is short and to the point; in just over 2 minutes, “Malaria Vvlgata” (perhaps the most unfortunate casualty of Nergal’s no-‘u’ policy) sees Behemoth fly by in a way of tremolo, blasts and frenetic soloing, with Inferno demonstrating his explosive talents to the fullest. It’s a fairly exciting introduction to Opvs Contra Natvram, and songs such as “Neo-Spartacvs” and “Disinheritance” offer more in this vein.

Yet at the same time, it’s not a full-blooded onslaught of a record. “Off To War!” and “Once Upon A Pale Horse” have their explosive moments, but also spend plenty of time in more mid-tempo territory, while “Ov My Herculean Exile” only flirts with moments of real extremity. This is a blackened death album that puts a decent amount of emphasis on the blackened part of the equation, and that black metal takes form more as an ominous, ritualistic beast than a savage monster. On top of that, some of those more symphonic and choral elements remain, such as with the chanting in “The Deathless Sun”, the grandiose climax of “Thy Becoming Eternal” and the plodding majesty of “Versvs Christvs”, a song that follows in the footsteps of “Lucifer” and “O Father O Sun O Satan!” in ending Opvs Contra Natvram with a slow grandstand finish.

The end result of this is positive, for the most part. “The Deathless Sun”, while perhaps cheesy with its chorus, is dark, exciting and ominous, “Disinheritance” offers Inferno opportunities to shine, particularly in the extended intro while he pounds away on various toms, and “Off To War!” finds a decent balance between punkiness, atmosphere and extremity. At the end of the record, “Thy Becoming Eternal” represents perhaps the best of Behemoth on Opvs Contra Natvram, nicely bleeding a frenetic first half into a richly atmospheric finale, while “Versvs Christus” finishes the album with some style, even if it’s not comparable in impact to the two songs I compared it with above.

At the same time, I can’t say I’m overly enthused by Opvs Contra Natvram. Perhaps it’s because my interest in the band has declined a fair amount in the past decade, or perhaps it’s a reflection of the contents of the album, but I can’t say there’s a song here, except perhaps “Thy Becoming Eternal”, that really lives up to the legacy of their strongest songs from the Demigod-thru-Satanist period. At the other end of the spectrum, “Once Upon A Pale Horse” is a bit of a plodder, while “Ov My Herculean Exile” and “Neo-Spartacvs” represent fairly middle-of-the-road renditions of their respective styles. The end result is an album that flies by in a swirl of blasts and darkness, without quite landing the blows necessary to linger once it’s over.

The components that have made Behemoth such a force are here, between Nergal’s signature howls and Inferno’s overwhelming drums, and I enjoy the blackened tonality that feels increasingly prevalent in their guitars, so all the ingredients are here, and the output is not to be sniffed at. However, it’s also not something to rejuvenate opinions on the band, and the underlying quality isn’t quite there to compel me to return to it.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 7





Written on 18.09.2022 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments

Comments: 4   Visited by: 217 users
18.09.2022 - 19:01
Rating: 6
AndyMetalFreak
A Nice Guy
Very accurate and profound review I thought it was an ok album but it didn't impress me much, so just like you I'm not compelled to return to it.
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19.09.2022 - 09:52
Daniell
_爱情_
Nergal's no "u" policy is probably inspired by the Latin language, where "v" functioned as "u". But he somehow forgot about his own policy, because we're listening to "Ov My Herculean Exile. Be that as it may, I've always thought that this "v" thing is pretentious and artsy-fartsy.

As for what should be the only thing that matters, the music... I gave the album three listens and my opinion is very similar to this review. The album is ok, but nothing to write home about. Even the fast parts lack the bite and intensity that can be found on albums released in the 00's. I very distinctly remember listening to "Sculpting The Throne Ov Seth" for the first time. When the song kicked into high gear I was almost literally floored by sheer, savage intensity that was trying to burst out of the speakers in my car. There is no trace of this kind of energy on the new album. I don't need the songs to be lightning fast - "The Satanist" has a lot of slower tracks that hit hard too - but I can feel when there is no steam in them.
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19.09.2022 - 13:25
Enissa

Honestly, this is the first time I write anything related to Behemoth ever. Immediately ran to listen to this album after this well-written review. I really wanted to like it, but I don't know.. It's like "Eeeh". And is it just me, or could the production (particularly the drum parts) have sounded better?
However, the first two and last songs are quite nice. Can't say that I would go back to listen to the whole thing again.
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19.09.2022 - 14:52
Rating: 10
I agree with the overview! It’s objective and good analysis. However still I really do like the Behemoth style and I have enjoyed greatly this album
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