When Behemoth announced the details for I Loved You At Your Darkest it was met by a level of fevered anticipation of the like many of their closest peers could only dream of achieving. The fundamental reason for this being the fact that Behemoth's break away whilst Nergal pursued various side projects and the rest of the band enjoyed time off actually amplified the level of impact The Satanist had on the heavy music scene. During it's album cycle this record was rightfully hailed as undoubtedly the band's finest hour but it was in the years following where almost every single record with even the smallest hint of extremity became scrutinised against this masterpiece. Behemoth had hit the switch on something with The Satanist which even they had never come close to in the past - fine their back catalogue is strong in parts but even they would be the first to tell you that none of it ever hit that level. So why are we dwelling on all of this? Because The Satanist should be viewed as the start of what became a new phase in this band's career as the natural progression and continuation of that power comes on in swathes on this latest record.
We're going to avoid doing a straight comparison, mainly due to the fact that as we've explained already, the beauty in The Satanist lay not with the initial impact but it's continual evolution. I Loved You At Your Darkest continues the flow of momentum that oozes from it's predecessor opening with the eerie and chilling Solve before launching itself out of the speakers towards you at full force with Wolves Ov Siberia. Furious sounding yet fantastically laden with groove, Behemoth show throughout this record they are the absolute masters of their craft in 2018 and it's difficult to even include anyone on their level with this particular sub-genre. Rather than just driving at you with continual ear shredding material Nergal and co. cleverly devise swerves left and right which altogether makes everything sound that bit heavier and more evil. Tracks like Sabbath Mater and We Are The Next 1000 Years absolutely NEED to be executed live.
Evil is the word for it. Whilst it may be very difficult in heavy music to provide that 'shock factor' anymore, it's certainly not for the want of trying with Behemoth. I Loved You At Your Darkest isn't a middle finger in the face of faith, it is a middle finger in the face of the religious institutions who profess to police faith. The Satanist felt less obvious in it's lyrical content (yes, that does feel ridiculous to say for an album called The Satanist) whereas the lyrics on this particular record requires less digging to garner what exactly they're getting at. Every single track on the album on their own are just phenomenally theatrical. For a band to be able to balance an insane level of ferocity with theatrics on this scale is in itself masterful and just shows how much Behemoth appreciate delivering on the full package.
Overall then, the momentum on this album cycle will continue to grow as Behemoth start showcasing some of this material in a live environment. In tandem with The Satanist the band have managed to produce the two finest Extreme Metal records of the decade and for that they should be eternally applauded (in hell obv).