January 7, 2020 Behemoth – Live from Maida Vale (Album Review)
This January and February, Extreme Metal titans Behemoth are slated to embark on a European tour with the almighty Slipknot. To celebrate this monumental trek, the band are re-releasing 2018’s critically acclaimed I Loved You At Your Darkest in a new tour edition that features a documentary, plus bonus live tracks from the “Maida Vale” BBC Radio 1 session. The physical package will be available on the road, but if you can’t make it to a show, don’t worry—Nuclear Blast has you covered! They are set to release Live from Maida Vale to digital on Friday, January 10th, 2020.
Behemoth should require little introduction for fans of the blackest and deadliest forms of Metal. With nearly three decades under their belts, along with 11 studio albums, 9 EPs, and a dedicated international fanbase, the Polish band’s talents have earned them endless nominations, awards, and media acclaim. Known for their theatrical performances and macabre visuals, Behemoth’s artful approach to their craft is often overshadowed by the fact that some consider them, gasp, Satanic.
But that’s old news. For 2020, as Behemoth prepare to hit the road with Slipknot, for a six-week jaunt that kicks off January 14th in Dublin, Ireland, it is time to offer fans a little something extra to add to their collections. This post-holiday gift comes in several forms: a re-release of the aforementioned I Loved You At Your Darkest, as well as the EP Live from Maida Vale, which contains recordings from the band’s BBC Radio 1 sessions.
At just 4 songs, Live from Maida Vale is a succinct reminder that Behemoth—Vocalist/Guitarist Adam “Nergal” Darski, Bassist/Backing Vocalist Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski, and Drummer Zbigniew “Inferno” Promiński—are exceptional masters of their black craft. Recorded at the famed radio station in London during the ILYAYD release week madness, Live from Maida Vale is a celebration of the stellar album’s one year anniversary.
The EP opens with “Wolves ov Siberia,” a pulverizing barrage of blast beats and guitars that overpower Nergal more so than in the original—but Behemoth certainly hold nothing back in their performance. If you’re hoping for the band to capture a seance of satanic fury on record, well, this is it! (That is, if you consider a treatise on how humanity has made ourselves into gods and condemned Mother Earth to be “satanic.”) Darkly haunting, wonderfully slaughtering yet sadly muffled in sound quality, “Wolves ov Siberia” sets a precedent that the collection never manages to overcome: the band sound phenomenal, but the recording simply does not do their talents justice.
Thus, Nergal’s howls continue to be low in the mix as they explode into wildfire on “God = Dog.” And this is a true shame as his raspy tones are particularly on point in the performance of this truly epic track. Similarly, much as in its original incarnation, arena-worthy guitars race throughout the core of “Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica,” which is guaranteed to make any recovering Catholic giggle. A dark denunciation, it paves the way for the melancholic guitars that open the unearthly allure of “Bartzabel.” A bleak sway that allows the band to explore a multitude of sonic territories, this stand-out from ILYAYD maintains its dark beauty and is a highlight here, as well.
Unfortunately, the original I Loved You At Your Darkest recordings of each of the tracks far exceed the quality of the Live from Maida Vale sessions. While it’s understandable that the exemplary artfulness of Behemoth’s live presence cannot truly be represented in audio format only, fans should expect nothing more than a recording of the band’s time on BBC’s Radio 1 from this EP. Four great songs, less than 20 minutes of Metal, but a promise that Behemoth are still going strong!
Simply put: the band is phenomenal, the songs are epic, but the recording of the material leaves something to be desired. Because of this, Cryptic Rock give Behemoth’s Live from Maida Vale 3.5 of 5 stars.