After the success of 2014’s "The Satanist" both critically and commercially, Behemoth had a lot to live up to with "I Loved You At Your Darkest" heavily anticipated, for those hoping for "The Satanist" part 2, they’ll surely be disappointed, however their newest release is an enjoyable and surprising effort.
"I Loved You At Your Darkest" shows a different Behemoth than has been displayed before, the intensity that was so present on their last release has given way to a far more melodious and 'rock' laden journey, in many ways this new album reminds me of Satyricon’s progression from "Volcano" onwards, both bands searched to find the base fundamentals of their music, and both found it in traditional rock and heavy metal.
The tracks on "I Loved You At Your Darkest" are for the most part relaxed, some are upbeat and relatively 'happy' sounding songs, they recall bands like AC/DC, Iron Maiden, and Mercyful Fate, whilst still retaining the 'Behemoth' sound that they’ve developed in their 27-year existence. The songwriting feels mature and is undeniably catchy, however, it feels very safe, there is little that exudes anything extreme or intense; a far cry from the onslaught of "The Satanist"’.
There is variety in the songs but most of the variety comes from inconsistency, with the strange opener "Solve", the more aggressive "Wolves of Siberia" to the dreary "Bartzabel". Behemoth displays a showcase of songs but few stick in the mind enough to evoke any strong emotion from the listener.
The production on the album sounds very organic, more so than it did on their last album, it fits the material well and gives the riff-driven album space to breathe. Particularly, Nergal’s vocals sound great, his vocal control and the way in which they sit in the mix match the tone of brilliantly. Not so great though is the children’s choir at the start of the album, it feels poorly integrated and comes off rather cheesy, even if the sentiment behind having the children’s appearance on the album is commendable.
"I Loved You At Your Darkest" is hardly Behemoth's magnum opus and whilst it’s songs lack impact or memorable songs it’s still enjoyable. It feels like a transition album, an album that is a marker on the road to a different version of the band, it has its faults and things it needs to work on, only time will tell what this album means for Behemoth as part of a larger whole.
Behemoth’s "I Loved You At Your Darkest" is out now via Metal Blade Records (North America) and Nuclear Blast (Europe). Order it here.
Reviewed by Dan Thaumitan