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Behemoth - 'Demonica' (metalblade) 4.5/5

It's been a difficult year for classic Polish black metal merchants Behemoth, with main man Adam 'Nargal' Darski fighting off a potentially fatal bout of leukemia all things Behemoth have been put on hold for the past year or so. However the band have taken the opportunity to do a spot of archive raiding. Earlier this year we had the 'Abyssus Abyssum Invocat' compliation which resurrected a few lost gems and unreleased live archive material and now we have this double CD package that looks back to some of their earliest recordings.

Now this is not a new release as such, Demonica first surfaced in 2006 on the Swedish Regain label, but back then it was a very limited pressing of just a few thousand CDs and a few hundred vinyl copies and thus has become a bit of a collectors item. But now it has been re-issued through Metalblade so all of who missed it first time around can enjoy it.

OK I'll confess that I've always had a soft spot for Behemoths intelligent approach to all things doomy and dark and always admired them for the high standard of their music; and listening back to this collection of some of their earliest demo tracks, album out takes and other assorted goodies, I'm more than happy to report that even this primordial stuff from the bands earliest days still shows exactly why Gdansks blackest export are one of the world leaders in their field.

All the bands influences are proudly on show.  We get snippets of early Black Sabbath style riffage, hints of Venom, touches of St Vitus and Paradise Lost, a seasoning of Bathory and Celtic Frost... all the classic ingredients of the trade mark Behemoth sound are on show, and even on the earliest numbers, some dating back to early 1992 they are already being forged into something a wee bit special indeed.

The quality of the musicianship on show is remarkable; its brutal, raw, aggressive and as black as a black cat which has been dropped into a bag of soot; yet at the same time its complex in construction, perfectly controlled and as darkly entertaining as a classic Dario Argento movie.

There are 23 tracks on offer here and I'm not gonna give a track by track breakdown, but a few of my personal highlights are: the Bathory fueled From The Hornedlands to Lindisfarne (you gotta love songs about vikings), the deliciously doom laden Rise Of The Blackstorm of Evil, the Venomesque Cursed Angel Of Doom and the dark and riffy Deathcrush.

Things are thankfully looking up in the Behemoth camp now. Nargal is well on the way to a full recovery, and there is a new studio album and a full European tour in the offering for next year. But in the mean time if you need a black metal fix of the highest quality to keep you going, (or you've not encountered the band before and you fancy giving them ago) then this album (and Abyssus Abyssum Invocat for that matter) are more than up to the task.

Highly Recommended

For fans of ... Venom, Glorior Belli, Bathory, Novel of Sin etc....

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