Set List Bonus: Behemoth At Metal Alliance Tour
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By Jamie Harvey
The fourth annual Metal Alliance Tour, featuring perhaps its most extreme lineup yet, brought bands spanning the globe from the dark corners of the black and death metal worlds, and a sold-out crowd, to the House of Blues Los Angeles for night two of the 22-date tour on April 5.
I have stood in the same spot three times to see Behemoth perform at the House of Blues, and the Polish death metal band always put on an amazing performance no matter where they are (I've seen them play in daylight and on a cruise ship). The band have a vibe about them that can be likened to stoic, dark superheroes as they dramatically began their set standing still and staring into the audience before erupting into an overflowing volcano of heavy riffs and blast beats. Behemoth take what is sometimes described as a one-dimensional genre to the next level for a multitude of reasons: engaging theatrics, songs that are crafted to not always push the accelerator pedal to the floorboard, and a compelling history.
In 2010 the death metal band took on a new life when frontman Adam "Nergal" Darski was diagnosed with Leukemia. After Nergal underwent a bone marrow transplant, Behemoth rose from the ashes and quickly toured again in 2012. I remember seeing them on that tour, and feeling the different vibe of the band from before the illness. And on this night they performed material from an album written in that quake, The Satanist, which was released in February. The set began with a couple tracks from that album, including the opener "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel." Performing cloaked and hooded, Behemoth seemed almost otherworldly, and the songs seemed to preach wisdom learned from their near-death experience.
The drama and flair of Behemoth are unfaltering, and the crowd was drawn under their spell. Bodies flew as they moved into older material, including my personal favorite, "As Above So Below," which, within the context of the rest of their catalog, is a bit slower and more simplistic, but reminded me of the journey I've taken with them since their beginning. The ultimate highlight of the night was "Alas, Lord Is Upon Me," during which Nergal spewed, "Behold, as Rome burns so do I/'Tis not the last empire to crumble" with a single spotlight on him, before the music swelled and boiled over into utter madness. It was clear the crowd was completely captivated.
Later I heard a fan deliriously state: "Nergal spit blood all over me and it was so awesome!" (Nergal did, indeed, spit blood into the crowd at the beginning of "At The Left Hand Ov God.")
As the black cherry on top of the night, the band performed an encore featuring "O Father O Satan O Sun!" while wearing silver Satan masks — an evil jaw-dropper for the end of the set. While it might have been one of the shortest Behemoth sets I've seen, the energy and theatrics left me feeling satisfied and terrified.
But perhaps darker than the black metal musicians who took the stage are the two anniversaries that fell on April 5: the 20th anniversary of the death Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and the 12th anniversary of Alice In Chains frontman Layne Staley's passing. So it was fitting that Seattle-based Inquisition were spewing their creaky-door black metal as I walked in. Norway's 1349 further summoned the dark spirits with their fuller black metal sound, while New Orleans' Goatwhore played a ferocious headliner-worthy set, handling technical difficulties with grace — yes, black metal musicians can be graceful.
To catch Behemoth on the Metal Alliance Tour in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
Behemoth Set List:
"Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel"
"Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer"
"As Above So Below"
"Slaves Shall Serve"
"Christians To The Lions"
"Ov Fire And The Void"
"Alas, Lord Is Upon Me"
"At The Left Hand Ov God"
"Chant For Eschaton 2000"
"O Father O Satan O Sun!"
(Jamie Harvey lives in Los Angeles and is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She has attended and written about more than 500 shows since 2007. You can follow her musical adventures at www.hardrockchick.com.)