Behemoth are one of the driving forces of the extreme metal scene. Never one to shy away from the epic and the magnificent, the band have consistently released one blinder of a record after another. Even in the face of legalities with the Polish Church, Nergal and co continue to push the boundaries and throw in some surprises in the process. Having just performed at the Bloodstock Festival in August with a firey headlining set and abandoning the traditional forested black metal backdrop for a rooftop skyscraper performance, the band’s 12th studio album Ops Contra Natvram is another worthy addition to an already strong discography.

The record opens with ‘Post-God Nirvana,’ a sinister and ominous introduction incorporating a heavy brass orchestral element with brooding war-like drumming and chanting. It suddenly blasts full speed ahead with ‘Malaria Vvlgata,’ a swift punch to the jugular with thunderous blastbeats and blistering shredding. Although this track is only 2 minutes long altogether, it incorporates everything that Behemoth do best; it’s straight to the point, dense and desecrates in the process. ‘The Deathless Sun‘ is epically atmospheric and aggressive with grand chant-worthy choruses and epic riffage carried by ominous choirs. ‘Ov My Herculean Exile‘ slows the tempo down opening with more atmospheric choirs with an almost anthem-esque feel to it with its steadier rhythm.

Neo-Spartacvs‘ is a blackened masterpiece which twists and turns at every angle. With catchy hooks and rhythmic drumming giving way to more blistering blastbeats and soaring solos and back again, this track keeps you hooked. ‘Disinheritance‘ is formidable and continues to drive forward with a barrage of catchy hooks and sheer ferocious aggression. ‘Off To War!‘ was written before the Ukrainian War however the subject matter fits the current state of things in that regard. The track itself is another gloriously blackened work of art with more thunderous drums, epic riffage and Nergal’s ominous growls on the backdrop of unworldly atmospheric choirs.

Once Upon A Pale Horse‘ has a slight groove-infused tone to the blackened mid-tempo beat which serves to give the record a bit of a breather before it descends into its conclusion. The penultimate track ‘Thy Becoming Eternal‘ descends into sinister chants and a roaring force of fast paced energy and fevered aggression off-set by the occasional groovy drumbeat and ethereal choirs. The closing track ‘Versvs Christvs‘ is piano-led with Nergal’s evil whispers creating a foreboding tension. This track is one final push which showcases the band’s flawless creativity and experimentation as it incorporates every aspect of the record as a whole and ends in an epically cinematic fashion.

Settling in nicely beside the brilliance that is 2014’s The Satanist and 2018’s I Loved You At Your Darkest, Opvs Contra Natvram has solidified Behemoth‘s already imposing presence within the extreme metal scene. Behemoth have amplified a winning formula from previous years to create a record that is refreshing, dark and one of extreme metal’s strongest releases of the year.

Rating: 9/10

Released By: Nuclear Blast

Release Date: 16th September 2022

For Fans Of: Morbid Angel, Dimmu Borgir, Watain

Favourite Track(s): The Deathless Sun, Off To War!, Once Upon A Pale Horse, Thy Becoming Eternal