Behemoth Summons Us To The Dark Side With New EP A Forest
The dark lords of Polish extreme metal have recently released one of their most interesting records to date. Building on the success of 2018’s I Loved You At Your Darkest and a spot on Slayer’s final tour as well as a headlining tour of their own, the band is primed and in top form. Behemoth’s latest offering is a four-song EP entitled A Forest available via Metal Blade Records. The new release consists of a cover of The Cure song “A Forest” as well as a live version of the same song and two brand new original tunes.
Now I have to say that I always look forward to hearing a new version of a song and when a band like Behemoth tackles a song outside the realm of metal, it is a must-listen for me. I know some of you have a lot of mixed feelings about cover songs in general and those feelings are valid. Personally, a band in my opinion has to do a song better than the original or a version so different that there really is no comparison. This is a task that many have tried but few have succeeded at. After just one listen, it’s clear that Behemoth has done an incredible job with this song. Frontman Nergal had this to say about it, “Covering music outside of metal is a challenge – covering legendary music is an even greater challenge…that is what drove us throughout this process. A lot of bands try it and a lot of bands fail; subjectively, I love the outcome and it ranks amongst my favourite Behemoth covers alongside Killing Joke‘s ‘Total Invasion’ and Siekiera‘s ‘Ludzie Wschodu’.
For the second time in 2020, I’ve recruited Niklas Kvarforth from Shining. Niklas’ psychotic appearance, attitude and vibe was a key element to our representation of the music and the only man who could give the performance the same depth as the original.”
Before we dive headfirst into Behemonth’s version, let’s revisit the original track for a moment. It starts off with a bit of a surreal feel before the signature drums and light, bouncing rhythms kick in. Enter the jangly guitars, synths, and classic vocals of Robert Smith and you have a quintessential song from The Cure. It’s their gift to the alternative rock world, understated and working towards a huge denouement but never quite getting there. It takes you to the edge, but never allows you to fall off, a resplendent journey for the listener. Let’s juxtapose that with Behemoth’s take on “A Forest” which spins a much darker tale. The song’s eerie opening begins and my mind goes immediately to a horror film, not any movie in particular, just that all too familiar scene where you know something bad is going to happen and you’re yelling from the edge of your seat for the group of teens to turn around and not go in. But, of course, they do and that is the beginning of the end for most of them. The song builds and the drums of Inferno come in, punishing and brutal with Orion’s bass lines driving the madness. The guitars of Nergal and Seth kick in, searing yet majestic in sound as you are taken in, enticed with every hypnotic beat. The song also features a guest vocal from Niklas Kvaforth, vocalist of the Swedish black metal band Shining, and the combination of his guttural explosions and Nergal’s gritty tone is something straight out of Hell. The pain and anguish of their voices are palpable. It’s evil in metal form and a devilish delight for the senses. When the end is almost near and you hear the raspiness of the words “again and again and again,” it’s almost as if a lifeforce is ending with the song. Wow!
Next up is a live version of the song recorded live in Warsaw, Poland in December of 2018 and also features Kvaforth on vocals. I’m not normally a fan of a live track being thrown in, but in today’s climate of no live music, I was grateful for it. Behemoth always puts on a gargantuan performance when they hit the stage and that December night in Warsaw was no exception. You can feel the energy from the band and the audience as they feed off each other. As a bonus, you get to hear Nergal, introduce Niklas and his greeting of “Fuck you all!” to the crowd. If that wasn’t enough, there are also two brand new, original Behemoth tracks on the EP. The first of which is “Shadows ov Ea Cast Upon Golgotha.” It’s no surprise that the band stays within the realm of the metaphysical and Thelemic mysticism here.
Black Earth below
Black Earth below
Ea turns inwards
Lyrically, it’s what they’re known for and they are a black metal band after all. Even though frontman Nergal hates being put into any category as the band truly encompasses many sub-genres of metal whether it be black metal, death metal, thrash metal, or mystical metal. The bottom line is it’s metal and nobody does it quite like Behemoth. After the opening riff, the song really takes off speed wise and the combination of the frenetic guitars really makes this a standout. Vocally, I love what they did here with a choir echoing Nergal’s vocals in spots and the guitar work is phenomenal, especially about midway through when the sound is regal, an offering of sorts. The final track “Evoe” is a cacophony of sounds from the very start with the guttural vocals of Nergal front and center. But after about 20 seconds or so, the song takes on a melodic charge before heading back into the chaotic. It’s a wonderful back and forth where you are banging your head and singing one minute and in a full raging mosh the next before climaxing with a final memorable bang.
A Forest is one hell of a ride. As Nergal has stated, “We hope this brings some respite for anyone struggling during these strange times on our planet! Stay safe, stay positive, Hail Satan!” If you’re a fan of any kind of metal, come take a walk in the woods with Behemoth and explore for a little while.
Nergal- Rhythm, Lead and Acoustic Guitars, Throat, New Aeon Propaganda and War Strategy
Inferno- Drums of Annihilation and Artillery
Orion-Low End Frequencies and Fornication
Seth- Rhythm and Lead Guitars