There's no doubt who the crowd have come to see on this cold and wet Monday night in North London. Even when the backdrop for Behemoth goes up whilst the stage is being set up they all start chanting for Behemoth.
After an atmospheric intro the pounding drums and the first chords of the first single off the new album, 'The Satanist', ring out. 'Blow Your Trumpets, Gabriel' made its mark as an impressive album opener and live it is just as heavy and hypnotic, shrouded in an ominous mood.
The band continues with the album and there is a rush of ecstatic energy bursting forth from the crowd during 'Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer'. Nergal greets London and moves on to 'Conquer All' off 'Demigod'.
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'Decade Of Therion' off 'Satanica' is frenetic and the band look like they are indeed purging all the shit from the last five years. 'As Above So Below' off Zos Kia Cultus follows. 'Slaves Shall Serve' takes us back to Demigod and the sold-out crowd love this track - it doesn't look like there are many not shouting out the last line: "Slaves will fucking serve!!!"
'Thelema 6' is revisited with 'Christians To The Lions' and Seth is churning out one brutal riff after another on stage right whereas Orion is a fired up beast ready to beat down a whole army of samurais with his little finger.
Sixteen (!) years after its release, 'Driven By The Five-Winged Star' off 1998s 'Pandemonic Incantations' sounds massive. Nergal brings out a thurible and the scent of incense wafts over the crowd, preparing them for what is to come: 'The Satanist'.
A stunning piece of music on record alone, it sounds amazing live. The lighting throughout the show is magical, used perfectly to enhance the overall atmosphere. During the now classic 'Ov Fire And The Void' off Behemoth's previous album from five years ago, 'Evangelion', Nergal and Orion literally beat the shit out of their instruments and as powerful a track as it was upon its release, it still is now.
The sheer confidence and, moreover, conviction of this band on and off stage is all-permeating and all-consuming. 'Alas, Lord Is Upon Me' follows and the viciousness of the heavy track is like vomiting black blood.
The set list is an amazing mix of tracks from throughout the band's 20-odd year career, the older songs blending with the newer material without difficulty. Behemoth of today is more dynamic and yes, they have evolved and matured but never becoming boring, quite the opposite. The ferociousness never abates and what we see tonight in London is a show second to none. Behemoth are on fire.
'Furor Divinus' off the new album is next and there is only one word for Inferno behind the skins: incredible. Worthy of his name, the man really is a fireball that no-one can extinguish. Nergal is putting his whole being into the set, to the point of appearing breathless at times. He is a man who literally has been to hell and back but has returned with renewed vigour, a certain air of invincibility.
'At The Left Hand Ov God' off 'The Apostasy' follows and the energy emanating from the stage is palpable, the three men making full use of the whole of the stage.
The familiar set closer 'Chant For Eschaton 2000' ends the proceedings for a moment, but after the very brief pause, just seven minutes before the 11pm curfew, the band get back onstage and quite possibly the darkest spark in the jewel that is the new album, 'O Father O Satan O Sun!' ends the night.
This track is Behemoth's pitch black, brooding 'Kashmir' but with the sound of the ultimate redemption. It's big, bold and during the breakdown the band get off stage and return wearing the unsettling masks familiar from the 'Blow Your Trumpets, Gabriel' video. If it sounds gimmicky it's not, far from it. The track alone is spine-tinglingly majestic, and the masks give the feeling of the night becoming a full circle.
Behemoth have certainly given birth to something remarkable. They are one of the few bands who have managed to achieve nothing short of perfection with their combination of music, art, performance and ideology. The intensity of this band makes no apologies for getting under your skin.
'The Satanist' is Behemoth's masterpiece and it is the sound of a band who know who they are and who are not afraid to bare their blackened souls for the world to see. These shows are bound to be remembered for a long time to come by those who witness them - be sure not to miss out.
'The Satanist' is out now on Nuclear Blast Europe, Metal Blade US.