Behemoth Bring ‘The Satanist’ to Webster Hall in New York City
The story of Behemoth’s Nergal is one of redemption as the frontman famously battled and claimed victory over leukemia, leading to the recording of the life-affirming The Satanist. The 2014 disc is unquestionably the band’s crowning achievement, replete with Nergal’s convictions and ideologies which are deeply entrenched in his personal brand of Satanism. The Polish blasphemers are delivering the album in its entirety on the ‘Blasfemia Amerika’ tour and stopped at the Webster Hall in New York City on April 23 for the second night of the North American leg.
The 1,500 capacity venue was a claustrophobic sea of fans, mostly decked out in Behemoth shirts either newly purchased or worn and weathered as they awaited the set with fevered anticipation. Even Lamb of God's Randy Blythe was rubbing elbows in the photo pit. Behemoth bring a comprehensive show, embracing the full artistic spectrum. The stage was set with the Inferno’s drum riser that saw two short sets of stairs on each end with a platform on top and a projector screen behind them. Nergal’s signature mic stand stood front and center as the stage was bookended by decorated stands for backing vocals provided by guitarist Seth and the literal behemoth Orion on bass.
As the introductory tape blasted through the PA and the crowd stood in the dark, each screen was illuminated with visuals as Inferno took his seat behind the drums and Seth and Orion walked to their respective places atop the stairs. The studded hoods of each member remained up, partially obscuring their already smeared and running black and white facepaint. The tape ended, signaling the opening chords of The Satanist opener, “Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel.” As lights panned over the crowd, fists emphatically accented the plodding pace and chants of “Hey!” resonated loudly throughout Webster Hall.
Within the first few moments, the room was filled with an intense atmosphere as Behemoth began to barrel through The Satanist from start to finish with reckless abandon. Nergal’s stage presence was on point, traversing the wooden floor and engaging the crowd either vocally or just merely by standing in front of them with a fixed gaze as he sprawled across the gridded platform placed between the stage monitors. Moving forward, they tore into “Furor Divinus” and “Messe Noir,” the latter of which saw the crowd loudly proclaim “I believe in Satan!,” the opening line of the song. It is clear Behemoth were there not just to play their music, but to spread a message.
That message was not only pro-Satanism, but a disdain for conventional religions through sacrilege. Nergal disappeared for a moment, returning to the stage with a thurible (look it up!), maneuvering the levied chains as they open and closed the two halves with incense smoke bellowing out from within. The second act saw the frontman walk out past the stage on an extended platform that rested on the barrier, allowing Nergal to serve the crowd communion from a chalice. A circle of outstretched hands enveloped their new priest as fans opened their mouths, welcoming the sacrificial offering.
“O Father O Satan O Sun!” closed out The Satanist as the band took the shape of the Devil himself, standing statuesque onstage, bathed in the red hue of overhead lights and brandishing horned masks as Nergal’s spoken word blared through the speakers. Leaving a chilling impact, Behemoth briefly walked offstage to wild applause, returning shortly and tearing into the thrashy 1994 track “Pure Evil and Hate.” The Poles quickly dished out Thelema.6 opener “Antichristian Phenomenon” followed by a speech from Nergal. Addressing the crowd, he proclaimed that Behemoth will never compromise their art on their way to the top and that they will “Conquer All,” which was met with explosive cheers and a maddening pit once again opened up in the middle of the floor, sending bodies into each other and over the barricade in front of the stage.
Again walking offstage, the lights went out and the crowd erupted into a “Be-he-moth!” chant, which saw the return of the Satanic quartet for the final three songs of the night. The intro to “At the Left Hand ov God” played from 2007’s The Apostasy, sending the crowd into even louder bursts of primal screams. The punishing “Slaves Shall Serve” came next and set closer “Chant for Eschaton 2000” sent bodies careening over the barrier one more time as security, covered in blood spat from Nergal and his bandmates, hauled the headbangers in.
Opening the show was New York-based outfit Myrkur, who play an ethereal albeit primitive style of black metal. Jagged, sometimes trance-inducing riffing collide with the whimsical voice of frontwoman Amalie Bruun, who goes under the stage moniker of her band. The band played to an already densely packed crowd, who welcomed the unconventional style and sent them off with a round of cheers.
Click through the photo gallery above to see pictures of Behemoth from the show.
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