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Behemoth & Myrkur Live at Boston, MA’s Royale

Behemoth at Royale - Boston, MA
Words and Photos by Ben Stas

It’s 2016, and the narrative arc of Behemoth frontman Adam “Nergal” Darski’s successful battle with leukemia, and the band’s triumphant return with 2014’s The Satanist, is common knowledge. The band shouldn’t be beholden to it forever. Still, there was something stirring about David Bowie’s “Lazarus” playing over the PA at the conclusion of their April 24th date at Boston’s Royale. In the wake of Bowie, Lemmy and Prince, this year has the mortality of musicians, and the potential sting of another loss, on all of our minds. Behemoth now functions as a proud rebuke of death – a celebration of life with dramatic, Satanic flourish. And that’s something we need right now.

While last year’s co-headlining jaunt with Cannibal Corpse brought Poland’s preeminent blackened death metal marauders to some larger stages, this spring’s Blasfemia Amerika tour found Behemoth properly in the spotlight. The band tookg advantage of the longer sets to offer up The Satanist front to back in addition to some old favorites, plus some added touches of theatricality.

Led by Nergal’s indefatigable energy and egged on by a wild crowd, the band’s ferocious onslaught was all horns. A spastic light show battered the audience while drummer Zbigniew “Inferno” Promiński thrashed away at the top of his iron platform, obscured by a wall of percussion hardware. Bassist Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski and guitarist Patryk “Seth” Sztyber prowled the stage, corpse-painted and scowling. The mononyms and makeup are just the start of the band’s flair for presentation, which embodied something of a black mass. A censer and distribution of communion wafers joined the traditional metal masks and (hopefully) fake blood spitting. It’s all more than a bit over the top, but what good is evil if you’re not having fun with it?

Behemoth has faced repercussions in both their native Poland and elsewhere in Europe over such artistic liberties in the past, but as Nergal took a moment to remind us prior to “Conquer All,” the band is not one for compromising. The quartet remains gleefully defiant, and defiantly alive.

A strong opening set from Myrkur, the ethereal one-woman black metal project of singer, guitarist and songwriter Amalie Bruun, rounded out the evening. Accompanied by a three-piece live band, Bruun executed a deft blend of gothic atmosphere and hammering bass/drum/guitar interplay. With a background in the pop-leaning fare of Brooklyn band Ex Cops, she had the vocal chops to sell the set’s stirring quiet moments (including a solo rendition of Bathory’s “Song to Hall Up High” on piano), but can also pierce with a scream when the material calls for it. Songs largely drawn from last year’s debut record M sounded haunted and thrilling from the stage. Myrkur’s first tour of North America, was a promising beginning.



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