Pyro, smoke and theatrics can’t overshadow the talent of Behemoth 9/10
Poland’s Behemoth brought smoke, pyrotechnics, high energy and good old Satanic black metal to Birmingham’s O2 Institute, their second show of their UK leg of their European tour.
Opening the show and getting the crowds blood running were Wolves in the Throne Room, an American black metal band who kicked off the show with their song Angrboda, their intense blast beats had the crowd’s head banging, setting the tone with incredible melodies and drums, although they did slightly overpower the vocals of the lead singers. They indulged the audience with a slightly theatrical side of their show, burning incense and filling the stage with smoke, a teaser of the ritualistic performance to follow.
They were swiftly followed by At The Gates, a Swedish death metal band from Gothenburg. They had great energy and kept up the momentum that Wolves in the Throne Room started, with one of the most enjoyable aspects being the front man, Tomas Lindberg, who was clearly enjoying being there and had fun on stage with great crowd interactivity. Even if you have never listened to At The Gates, they’re a great act who will be enjoyed regardless.
A large curtain concealed the stage set up from the audience, leaving them expecting and building the suspense. The venue’s music goes quiet and is soon replaced by the haunting children’s chant of “I shall not forgive, Jesus Christ”, taken from Solve, I Loved You At Your Darkest‘s, opener.
The curtain drops and the crowd goes wild at the appearance of Behemoth’s members as they erupt into Wolves Ov Siberia, instantly letting the crowd know what sort of show they’re in for with pyrotechnics and explosive smoke machines. Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer is a big crowd favourite, leading us into another high point in Bartzabel. Naturally we get a lot of the first half of I Loved You At Your Darkest including Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica and God = Dog but there are plenty of older songs like Decade of Therion and Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel.
After rituals and a night of theatrics we’re treated to an encore of Lucifer and We Are The Next 1,000 Years before the show closed with Coagvla being played over the PA with a brilliant heart pounding drum solo performed by the entire band, leaving on a high.
As someone seeing Behemoth for the first time, I was reminded of a twisted hybrid of Rammstein & Ghost, bringing the pyrotechnics & heavy melodies of Rammstein, whilst offering the theatrics and crowd interactivity of Ghost. Whilst they brought a lot over to England with them, in terms of props, it was never a distraction from just how talented the members are. Frontman Nergal, who’s carried the band through to nearly three decades despite a battle with leukaemia, keeps the energy throughout and brings a rare charisma that is hard to find in most bands when playing live. It’s impossible not to enjoy the show whether you’re a longtime fan or you’ve only just discovered them.
Anyone with plans to see them on this tour are in for a great show and I expect a great crowd turn out when they return to the UK in June to rock out Donington at Download Festival 2019.
Words and all photos (c) Jade Greenbrooke. You can see more of her photography on her Instagram.
Wolves In The Throne Room Gallery