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Concert Review & Photos - Behemoth

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Driving down to the Santa Ana on Saturday evening, I could not help but wonder what I had gotten myself into.  Over the past 30 years, I could not count on one hand the number of black metal concerts I had been to.  The closest I have been to the darker side of rock might have been Metal Church at the Santa Monica Civic in 1989 (and still think the spinning upside cross haunts me to this day).  Sure, I have listened to bands like Slayer and Mercyful Fate and have many of their classics in my collection.   However, none of that would have prepared me for what I was about to experience at my first Behemoth show.  Driving away from my quite suburban neighborhood in Long Beach,  I  cranked up their 10th album, "The Satanist", for the 45 minute trek down the 405 to Orange County.  As Behemoth's haunting sound began to take over my sound system,  I knew that this would be a rock n'roll show unlike any I have ever seen.  

On Saturday May 7th., Behemoth convened their legions of followers at the Observatory in Santa Ana for what was to be their last U.S show (Number 13 to be exact) supporting the Blasfemia Amerika Tour.  After a chilling set from opener Myrkur, Behemoth took the stage at 9:45pm in front of a near-capacity crowd.  The masses in the pit began to swirl feverishly as Bass-guitarist Orion (Tomasz Wroblewski), Guitarist Seth (Patryk Sztyber) and Drummer Inferno (Zbigniew Prominski) exploded onto the stage.  Then out from the shadows,  front-man and guitarist Nergal (Adam Darski) took center stage and kicked off the show with crowd favorite, Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel.   To say that this place went ballistic would be an understatement. Within moments of their opening salvo, everyone was on their feet and a massive mosh pit had erupted in the center of the floor.  A crowd surfer floated effortless across the crowd towards the front of the stage with a shirt that ominously read, "Your God Cannot Save Me".  What a strange foreshadowing of the evening to come.

For those that are not die-hard Behemoth fans, you should know that this band has an immense catalog of music that span an amazing 25 year career.  They are known for having a dark signature sound coupled with multi-layered vocals.  One also can hear a distinct middle eastern influence in their melodies that sets their sound apart from others in the blackened metal genre. Throughout the show, those in attendance were continually floored by many of their classics including Furor Divinus, Ben Sahar, and Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer.  Each song rocked the Observatory in a way that made you feel like the walls may be coming down any moment.  On top of that, Behemoth performed two kick-ass encores featuring standards such as Conquer All and Slaves Shall Serve.  Nergal ended the evening just as he started it with a near flawless version of Chant for Eschaton 2000 (off the 1999 album "Satanica").   Simply amazing!

When the show was over and all the dust had settled, I took a moment to reflect on my first evening with Behemoth.  Although I went into the show with eyes wide open, I had very little to compare it to going in.  Prep for the evening came down to listening to Behemoth's latest album and watching a few of their videos on YouTube.   Based on what I saw prior to the show, my expectations for the evening were honestly pretty low.  It just seemed to be such a departure from bands like Van Halen, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden which I grew up with as a child of the 80's.   Fast forward two hours later, and I can honestly say I have been converted to one of their faithful.  Nergal, Orion, Seth, and Inferno laid it all on the line in for their Southern California congregation on Saturday night.  The show was one for the ages, combining their dark haunting sound along with amazing imagery that left plenty to one's imagination.  And if that were not enough, they kept up their high-energy theatrics the entire show - no drop off in intensity whatsoever (which is pretty rare for most live bands today).   To me, this is what metal is all about!  

Stay Frosty and Rock on!


Matthew Belter

Executive Editor - Long Beach

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