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Behemoth - "Zos Kia Cultus"
Avantgarde Music 2003

Do I really have to introduce Behemoth to anyone at all? This Polish metal juggernaut of an act has been around for enough time and has made enough of an impact on the scene worldwide to prove how serious they are, over and over again. Zos Kia Cultus is no filler either. Far from that - even the casual listener can hear (and see) how much work has gone into this one.

By seing I mean, that the very cover and booklet radiate the dedication that is so typical for Behemoth. You don't see acompanying text to each lyric on many bands' cds either. But let us now move from the visual part...

...and proceed to the sonic firestorm that is Zos Kia Cultus. Musically speaking, this album takes no prisoners on any ground, be it production, technical perfection or - most obvious of all - just sheer, straight out, no nonsense agression. The agression is present througout the album, which is probably why the overall impression is so non - compromising. It's in the drum blasts, the faster tracks, but also in the more midtempo sections. It radiates from the vocals and preys menacingly in the industrialised, sampled sections. Sometimes, the music on Zos Kia Cultus approaches death metal far more than on any other Behemoth release, the everpresent agression upheld by a cold and hard approach to music. This is just the thing that may put a bit of a distance between Behemoth's more black metal oriented listeners and this recording, yet may bring Zos Kia Cultus closer to the death metallers. But it's the passion coupled to the technical perfection which should endear it to the majority of extreme music fans.

The production is perfect and the record has a sharp, clear sound that brings all of its elements out into the light - individually and as a whole. Thundering low riffs that are the driving force of many of the tracks are backed by rapid - firing drums that deliver either in clearly separated blasts or as an autocannon - like whole, making an impressive, majesticaly sounding basis for the album. The guitars are the ones that make the most frequent excursions into the death metal zone with the high - pitched screams and violent, fragmented riffing, yet often still lay out a good old fashioned black metal wall of sound. The soloes are high and fast, the blend of rhytm and lead guitars sometimes even produces a sound, comparable to progressive heavy metal or even free jazz in technical terms, yet the agression on top of it all keeps it within the Zos Kia Cultus context - the firestorm, remember?

The industrialised...um, ambiental sections are more than just fill - ins too. They are integral to the tracks and carry the spirit and the passion of the album, helping develop an ambient indeed. An agressive ambient, that is. In fact, they complement the album perfectly and finalise its character. And as for the vocals... Nergal sounds like a god of fiery annihilation. The vocals are wrathfull, sometimes death metal like, sometimes almost inhuman, like the roar of wildfires. If we can talk about technical perfection when it comes to the production and the instrumental part, the vocals are the key to the passion of this recording. Expressive and impressive as well.

Zos Kia Cultus is for all those, seeking a truly hard and agressive album, although it will satisfy many who crave technical perfection as well. Another milestone for Behemoth, then. As for their fans... many death metallers might join the ranks. Not that I'm trying to define the genere, though. It isn't death metal or black metal... it's Behemoth. And all things aside, that very fact is obvious throughout Zos Kia Cultus.

The CD was lent to the Firegoat webzine by Leather Throne.

Author:   Jaša

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