Behemoth's 'A Forest' EP Distills the Band Down to Their Essence

Behemoth's 'A Forest' EP Distills the Band Down to Their Essence
A new Behemoth EP announced only a couple of weeks before its release is a nice surprise for everyone stuck at home these days — not that there's been any shortage of great new metal records coming out — but many probably weren't expecting to hear new Behemoth material so soon after 2018's I Loved You at Your Darkest LP and 2019's limited O Pentagram Ignis EP. 

Like the band's last EP, A Forest is comprised of four songs. But while O Pentagram Ignis included one B-side and three live cuts, A Forest boasts two brand new songs, which frontman and mastermind Adam "Nergal" Darski has described as "a continuation on from ILYAYD." There's also the title track, a chilling cover of the Cure's 1980 hit, plus a live recording of it. Both the studio cut and live version (from "Merry Christless" in Warsaw in December 2018) feature Shining's Niklas Kvarforth as a guest vocalist.

Handling the lead vocal, Kvarforth's unsettling crooning and shrieking blend with Behemoth's crushing and tense music in a way that is as beautiful as it is terrifying. The instrumental work is very much driven by Tomasz "Orion" Wróblewski's rumbling bass lines, and it's nice to hear him show off his chops. One other thing worth mentioning is that this cover is absolutely nothing like the original. Nergal has opined that it's one of his favourite cover songs by his band, and it's hard not to agree with him.

Since A Forest so prominently features its title track, one could be forgiven for expecting the other two songs to be filler or outtakes, but both "Shadows ov Ea Cast upon Golgotha" and "Evoe" are as solid as anything off I Loved You at Your Darkest. While Behemoth's most recent full-length isn't their strongest, it's still Behemoth at its essence, and if the band are continuing in this direction, there is potential for great things to come. Of course, any band that starts as underdogs and rises to the level of success Behemoth now enjoy will attract accusations of selling out. But Behemoth have not sold out; they've paid their dues, and they've earned the place to do whatever they want. (Metal Blade)