Few bands are as revered in extreme music today as Behemoth. The black metal titans had been at the forefront of the genre for years anyway, but 2014’s titanic The Satanist pushed them head and shoulders above the rest of the pack and when they toured the record in full recently it was received with the most critical of acclaims. Now, on DVD and album, those shows are being brought to the world, with Messe Noire: Live Satanist seeing the light of day last week. Recorded in both Warsaw, Poland and Brutal Assault in 2016, both include the album along with a smattering of other tracks.
The album, of which this review is based on, only contains the nine tracks that comprise the studio release itself but as you delve into it, this quickly becomes less and less of a problem. The Satanist is such a seminal work that from the moment ‘Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel’ kicks in, the scene around you disappears and you’re there, in a field or hall watching Nergal and co. kick seven shades of everything around them for fifty glorious minutes. There are so many high points it’s difficult to know where to start: the energy is at fever pitch levels throughout, capturing Behemoth’s live experience absolutely perfectly. The band themselves sound incredible, from ‘Inferno’ Prominski’s expert drumming to the rumbling bass of ‘Seth’ Sztyber and the dynamic guitar lines from Nergal and ‘Orion’ Wroblewski; tighter than a pair of Axl Rose’s underpants, it’s a masterful performance that only gets better with each second that passes. The crowd as well, rabid throughout, add an very nice cherry to the top of the Messe Noire cake.
The songs, however, are naturally where Messe Noire makes its statement to be placed in the annals of the greates live albums of the 21st century. The likes of ‘Furor Divinus’ and ‘Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer’ are nothing short of exceptional, with Nergal’s harrowing vocals sounding even more sinister. The standout is probably ‘The Satanist’ by a hair’s breadth, fast becoming a real anthem of Behemoth’s catalogue and a setlist cornerstone. It sounds so evil and colossal it could summon the Dark Lord himself on its own, testament to the spectacle and the work that the band have put into every aspect of their career. As the album dies away with the epic ‘O Father O Satan O Sun!’, a tiny part of you is disappointed that the remaining tracks to make up their live show aren’t present, but in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t enough to derail the record at all.
Behemoth finished their press release for Messe Noire saying ‘Now let the art speak…’ and never a truer word has been spoken. This transcends music into art of the darkest, bleakest nature and if they weren’t already at the top of the black metal tree, this is the stamp of approval to get them there.