Welcome to The Saw’s Butcher Shop! I am your host, your tour guide to torture, The Saw; and today we have a New Album Review of Opvs Contra Natvram, from Behemoth, released on September 16, 2022 (Nuclear Blast). To celebrate their 30 years of devastation, Behemoth have dropped their 12th studio album and, if you are familiar with the band (or if you’re not), you’re in for a surprise!
So, in the 90s/early 2000s, Behemoth were synonymous with all the notions of Black Metal. A solid wall of sound, and Nergal’s vicious vocals, were the means to the beatings in that day. The release of Demigod in 2004 noted a subtle change in that sound with a mature Blackened Death Metal stream of consciousness. In 2010, Nergal was diagnosed with Leukemia. Not given much of a chance, a donor was found, and Nergal made a full recovery. Following that news, Behemoth released their greatest album to date, The Satanist, in 2014. With that benchmark set, and excellent follow-up, I Loved You at Your Darkest (2018) marked another transition; an evolution in the song writing and sound of Behemoth.
Opvs Contra Natvram marks a new era for Behemoth. This record is a whole new level of song writing for Nergal and the band. It’s still extremely dark and menacing, with a striking balance between the historic and crushing beatings of Black Metal, the pure riff driven pounding of Death Metal, and something other than those two book-ends. This album is brilliant! It moves, often in a single song, from blast beats and fast tremolo picking, to beautiful, soring guitar solos from Nergal; atmospheric, to bouncing, grooving riffs. And the wicked undertones which Behemoth is known for, for the first time, are delivered quite a few times, in a slower paced tempo; all with Nergal’s vicious and angry vocal delivery.
The album begins with “Post-God Nirvana,” a prayerful interlude to madness. Ya girl got to see Behemoth a few years ago at The Ritz in Raleigh, NC and I think we summoned the devil, I’m not sure, on an opening prayer like this!
The first track following the intro is “Malaria Vvlgata,” a beat-down, Black Metal style, with (of course) awesome drum-work from Inferno and stringed-work from Nergal and Orion. In fact, several songs of Orion’s excellent bass-work are in focus on this record. We’ve talked, previously, about the next two – “The Deathless Sun” and “Ov My Herculean Exile” – the latter of which is a beautiful and powerful expression of the new delivery Behemoth is forwarding on this album.
The next three songs – “Neo-Spartacvs,” “Disinheritance,” and the single “Off to War!” – are the savages of this new album. Fast-paced, combination of atmospheric and blinding riffs; walls of sound for brief periods, then swings to brutal riffs and incredibly placed guitar solos, all of which have Nergal’s angry vocals riding on them! These three are an impassable creature that really sets Opvs Contra Natvram off!
“Once Upon a Pale Horse” is a different kind of song. It is a straight-forward bop! And “bop” isn’t a word one would normally use to describe Behemoth! You’ve got to listen to this one yourself. You’ll know it when you hear it.
The last single, “Thy Becoming Eternal,” escorts us to the final track of the record, “Versvs Christvs.” It is a perfect outro to what we’ve just experienced. More than a prayer, Nergal spits in audible fury as the band expounds a musical sense of the rage expressed. It’s not a fast-paced song, but it gets it’s point across perfectly. And it’s a perfect example of new era Behemoth – Atmospheric with chunky riffs, big choruses AND vicious vocal delivery; quiet calculation, then attack!
Rating: 9/10!! Excellent musicianship, incredible song writing, and RAGE!
Favorite Songs: Ov My Herculean Exile, Disinheritance, Once Upon a Pale Horse